Kanata North COVID-19 Update September 17

We need to talk. 

This past week, COVID-19 case numbers gresubstantially to 324 new cases in Ottawa. It worries me to see this trend, and today I am asking you to seriously think about how you are doing your part to stop the spread of this virus in our community. If you fell ill and had to trace the number of close contacts you have had, would this number be small? 

Over the last few months, we have proven that we can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by following the guidelines from Ottawa Public Health, including wearing a mask, maintaining a physical distance from others, and washing hands frequently. This is not the time to be complacent. Let’s go back to basics. We need to limit our number of close contacts. Let’s keep our bubble small. The smaller that bubble, the smaller the risk factor of spread. 

[videopress mJC4OCnc]

COVID-19 Dashboard 
Every day, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) publishes a dashboard that is updated with the latest information. You can view it on this website. It includes many metrics. In addition to case counts, here is just a sample of the metrics I closely monitor: 

  • Case Numbers 
    • This metric is the number of confirmed positive cases in our city that have been identified through testing. This metric is important to the overall picture of COVID-19 in our community. However, it’s important to know that testing can only capture a sample of the true infection rates in our community. Over the last week, we saw 324 new confirmed positive cases: 
      • Friday + 37  
      • Saturday + 27 
      • Sunday + 47 
      • Monday 61 
      • Tuesday + 52 
      • Wednesday + 61 
      • Thursday + 39 
    • Tragically, there were six deaths this week. This brings the cumulative total to 3,486 individuals with COVID-19 infections and tragically 273 residents of our city who have died. 
  • Hospitalizations   
    • This is an important metric to understand the capacity and demand that hospitals are facing. Currently, there are 12 individuals in hospital and 1 person in the intensive care unit (ICU). There has been a cumulative total of 298 individuals hospitalized and 70 people admitted into the ICU.    
  • Outbreaks   
    • Currently in Ottawa, there are 21 ongoing outbreaks. This is crucially important information as these are very high-risk locations. These include areas like long-term care homes, retirement homes, and hospitals. COVID-19 can spread quickly in these high-risk locations and it is important we do everything we can to minimize the spread in these areas. This includes one Kanata North ongoing outbreak at the Forest Hill Long Term Care Home.  
  • Health Care System Capacity  
    • The more COVID-19 cases we have in our city, the more hospitalizations we might have, which can lead to a reduction in capacity in our health care system. This is especially important as we approach flu season. The Health Care System Capacity section shows the amount of health care systems that are being occupied. Currently, 11% of the ICU ventilator beds are in use.   
  • Public Health   
    • It’s very important that OPH’s case workers can reach individuals confirmed with COVID-19 within 24 hours of being reported to them. The goal is to do this 90% of the time and currently they are not meeting this at 80%due to the high demand. Additionally, it’s also important that contacts of those cases are reached within 24 hours and this is being done 88% of the time. This is lower than last week, however OPH has said they are working on implementing new strategies and could implement surge capacity. 
  • Number of Contacts Per Infected Cases  
    • Currently, the average is 4.7, an increase from last week. This is the average number of people that have been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for the virus. This number is of importance because the higher the number, the more opportunities the virus has to spread in our community. The lower the number, the easier it is to identify close contacts and mitigate further spread of the virus. In recent weeks, the number has increased as some individuals have private gatherings and unfortunately expand their social circles, contrary to Ottawa Public Health Guidance. The most effective way you can have a positive impact on this metric is by following the guidance of OPH and maintaining physical distancing whenever possible, washing your hands, and wearing a mask.   

Supplemental Reports 

This is another group of reports that OPH provides regularly throughout the week. I specifically monitor the epidemiological report. You can find the reports here. These reports provide information on the nature and source of infections in our city. The latest report, provided on September 16, 2020, provides the following information: 

  • Last week the number of reported cases (253 from September 7 to September 13) was 86% higher than the previous week (136 from August 31 to September 6). 
  • In the past week, there was a notable increase in the rates of cases reported for all age groups under 80 years compared to the previous 5 weeks; rates were highest among younger age groups (0-19 years and 20-39 years). Rates in adults 80 years and older also remained high. 
  • Among school-age children, rates of cases reported were highest among 13-19 years olds (high-school). 
  • No source was identified for 19% of the 308 non-institutionalized cases with episode dates during August 30 – September 12, 2020. This has remained steady over the past few weeks; these cases are considered community acquired. 
  • Hospitalizations have remained steady. Six individuals were hospitalized in the past week. A total of 297 (9%) Ottawa residents with confirmed COVID-19 have been hospitalized. 
  • The number of individuals who died increased this past week. Tragically, six individuals died in the past week, all from one Long-Term Care outbreak. 

COVID-19 Testing 

This last week has seen lengthy and frustrating delays for those that have gone to one of the COVID-19 testing centres in our city. Many residents have reached out and shared their experiences. 

Yesterday, Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of Ottawa’s Board of Health, hosted a technical briefing to discuss the COVID-19 testing strategy and OPH’s community partnerships. This briefing provided important insights on how COVID-19 testing works, testing operations, and working with the community. The panel of health officials included: 

  • Dr. Brent Moloughney, Associate Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health (OPH). 
  • Dr. Alan J. Forster, Testing Strategy Lead for the Champlain Covid-19 Response Committee (CCRC). 
  • Naini Cloutier, Executive Director, Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC). 

Here are some of the key highlights: 

  • Testing is only one small tool in the fight against COVID-19, however preventing the infection is the best way to combat the virus. We can prevent infections by being COVIDWise. 
  • The main goal of testing is to determine if someone has COVID-19. Unfortunately, there are times when the test doesn’t do this. Similar to a pregnancy test, the test can provide false negatives or positives when taken at the wrong time. If an asymptomatic infected person takes the test too early (during the incubation period), the virus levels could be too low to detect. This provides the individual with a false reassurance that they do not have COVID-19 and can continue to engage in high-risk activities that could spread the virus. Hence, broad testing could provide individuals with false reassurance and the virus could continue to spread. Therefore, it is important to follow the testing criteria recommendations. 
  • Recommendations for testing include: 
    • Anyone showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. 
    • Asymptomatic (not showing symptoms) persons with close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 positive case: 
      • No earlier than 5 days after initial close contact with a confirmed case. 
      • Even if after waiting 5 days to be tested, the result is negative, it remains important to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days from exposure to the confirmed case. You will be helping to protect others because COVID-19 can develop up to 14 days after exposure even if you receive a negative test result. 
  • The diagram below shows the limitations of asymptomatic testing: 
    • Scenario 1: Shows that if tested prior to getting infected, the test is useless, and person may have a false sense of safety and attend social gatherings 
    • Scenario 2Shows that if tested before the virus reaches detectable level, results will show a false negative and the individual may have a false sense of safety and attend social gatherings. 
    • Scenario 3: Shows that even after the person has recovered, they may still test positive due to remnants of the virus still present in the body. This can have large consequences including unnecessary quarantining and treatment. 

  • The panel also noted that as testing capacity grows, the demand for testing also grows. To meet the needs of individuals, there are four main ways that testing is getting implemented: 
    • Assessment Centre: An out-of-hospital clinic where individuals are assessed by a health care provider at a facility and tested for COVID-19 if required.  
    • Drive Through: An out-of-hospital drive through option located at a satellite site where people can be tested for COVID-19 without having to get out of their vehicle. 
    • Mobile Testing: A portable and walk through testing unit that can be deployed at any location that requires additional testing. 
    • Deployed Assessment: When care partners (e.g. paramedics) are deployed to conduct testing to clusters of specific patient populations (e.g. long-term care homes).  
  • Combined, currently we are testing approximately 2,000-2,500 residents a day.  This capacity needs to roughly triple in the coming weeks to meet demand. Further, lab capacity for turning around these swabs also needs to grow.  
  • It was announced yesterday that the Brewer Assessment Centre has extended its daily operating hours to 8:30 a.m.  8 p.m. every day. Work is also underway to implement an online booking system in the near futureIt was also announced today that Ottawa will have 3 new pop-up testing centres operating very soon. Locations are currently being finalized. 
  • It is important to note that testing is only recommended for individuals showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 unrelated to pre-existing conditions and individuals who have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. In addition to the Brewer Assessment Centre, residents can also get tested at either the drive-through Assessment Centre on Coventry Rd. (by appointment for ages 14 and older), or either of the Care Clinics (Moodie or Heron) in Ottawa. 
  • Should a student or staff member contract COVID-19, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is responsible for contacting parents of children who have been in close contact with the individual. After being notified that a child or staff member at a school has tested positive, and within 24 hours of being notified of the positive test results, OPH will send an automated email with a unique link to the student’s school to all parents whose child has been identified as a “high-risk contact”. The email will provide parents with detailed instructions for next steps and answers to frequently asked questions. 

City Updates 

  • Starting September 21, the city will resume the enforcement of parking in excess of time limits in all areas of the city, including those that are not marked with signsParking limits in unsigned areas are three hours, Monday to Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and six hours on weekends and statutory holidays, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. To start, officers will issue warning notices to vehicles that are parked longer than the allowable time limits. On October 1, officers will begin to issue tickets. 
  • This week, the city is gradually reopening cultural facilities, including rentals, COVID-modified instructional programming and performing arts. All locations will implement COVID-19 safety measures and protocols will be in place. Rentals of performance spaces for classes or presentations will require the host to conduct self-assessments and obtain information for contact tracing. 
  • Earlier this week, Kanata Seniors reopened and are beginning to offer drop-in classes. Health and safety measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Reserve online or call 613-580-2980 for details. 

 

Provincial Update 

  • Today, Premier Ford announced that starting September 18 at 12:01 a.m., three regions, including Ottawa, that are experiencing high levels of COVID-19 transmission will have new limits to reduce the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events. This includes functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas. The amended order will set new limits to: 
    • 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50). 
    • 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100). 
  • Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. These are not accumulative and gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted. 
  • The new limits will only apply to persons within the boundaries of the following public health units: 
    • Ottawa Public Health. 
    • Peel Public Health. 
    • Toronto Public Health. 
  • To keep residents well informed regarding COVID-19 cases in schools, the Ontario government has created a new webpage to report COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres. This page will be updated every day from Monday to Friday, with the most up to date COVID-19 information available. You can expect to see a summary of cases in schools and licensed child care centres and agencies 

 

Take care Kanata North.  

Please reach out should you need anything.   

Stay safe,  

Jenna Sudds