Kanata North COVID-19 Update October 1

We continue to see a rising number of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 in our city. This includes a growing number of outbreaks within schools and childcare centres. I know this is concerning for many in our community, including myself. Several of you have reached out to ask how you can help with the city’s COVID-19 response. The best way is to be COVIDWise. This is our best tool to keep COVID-19 out of schools and businesses.   

I’m asking you to make informed decisions, keep your close contacts to those in your household and up to a maximum of two essential contactsWe all have an important part to play to lower the risk of exposure. If we do not all respectively do our part, we risk moving backwards with further restrictions and potentially business and school closures. Let’s work together, Kanata North, to avoid this.  

Lastly, I ask that everyone please consider downloading the COVID-19 Alert App. This app can alert people of possible exposure before any symptoms appear. It can help us break the cycle of infection. The app is simple to use, free, and proven effective. 

 

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 monitor closely: 

  • 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 469 new confirmed positive cases: 
      • Friday + 41 
      • Saturday + 45 
      • Sunday + 58 
      • Monday + 90 
      • Tuesday + 105 
      • Wednesday + 64 
      • Thursday + 66 
    • Sadly, there were 9 deaths this week. This brings the cumulative total to 4,388 individuals with COVID-19 infections and tragically 289 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 17 individuals in hospital and 3 people in the intensive care unit (ICU). There has been a cumulative total of 317 individuals hospitalized and 74 people admitted into the ICU.    
  • Outbreaks   
    • Currently in Ottawa, there are 48 ongoing outbreaks. This is crucially important information as these are very high-risk locations. These include areas like long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospitals, schools, and childcare centers. 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.  
  • 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, 15% 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 57%, due to the high number of cases. Additionally, it’s also important that contacts of those cases are reached within 24 hours and this is being done 80% of the time. This is lower than last week, however OPH is working with Provincial partners to increase capacity of the team responsible for this work.  
  • Number of Contacts Per Infected Cases  
    • Currently, the average is 5.9, 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 continues to increase as some individuals have had private gatherings and unfortunately expanded 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.   
  • Reproduction Number R(t):  
    • The reproductive number, R, is the average number of cases caused by an initial infected individual throughout their infectious period. Currently, the 7-day average since the last update is 1.05. This means that each new case is responsible on average for creating more than one case and infections are growing. A number less than one means infections are slowing. 

 

Supplemental Reports 

This is another group of reports that OPH provides regularly. 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 30, 2020, provides the following information: 

  • There was a 30% increase in cases compared to the previous week (September 14 to September 20).  
  • In the past week, the rates of cases reported continued to rise for all age groups. Rates were highest among those in the 20 to 39-year-old age group, followed by the 0-19 and 80+ years old age groups.  
  • Among school-age children, rates of cases reported continued to be highest among 13 to 19-year-olds (high-school). The rate of reported cases has increased for all age groups over the past 3 weeks.  
  • No source was identified for 10% of the 704 non-institutionalized cases with episode dates during September 13 – September 26, 2020; these cases are considered community acquired.  
  • Hospitalizations have increased by more than double since the previous week. The number of cases admitted to the ICU has remained stable. A total of 317 (7%) Ottawa residents with confirmed COVID-19 have been hospitalized, including 74 (2%) who were admitted to the ICU.  
  • Seven deaths were reported in the past week, six of which were associated with a healthcare outbreak. There have been 287 deaths in total.  
  • Eleven new outbreaks in healthcare settings were reported over the past week – a sharp increase compared to one reported the week before. There are 25 ongoing outbreaks in healthcare institutions. 
  • There were six new outbreaks in childcare establishments in the past week. There are 16 ongoing outbreaks in childcare establishments.  
  • There were five new outbreaks reported in Ottawa schools; a total of nine school outbreaks are ongoing. 

 

City Updates 

  • It is important to note that Ottawa Public Health (OPH) does not require a negative test result to go back to school or work. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 can return to work or school after 14 days of isolation, if symptoms have resolved. Local schools or employers may have instituted a policy asking for a medical certificate or proof of test policy before individuals can resume their normal activities, please note that this is not recommended by OPH. In response to this request, OPH has developed an Attestation for Return to School for Students Following Illness letter for families with children returning to school. You can find more back to school tips on my website. 
  • Yesterday, Dr. Vera Etches shared her concern over the rising COVID-19 cases and number of close contacts people are keeping. It is important that we limit our close contacts, or we risk closures of businesses and schools. Dr. Vera Etches recommends keeping our close contacts to only the people in our households and up to a maximum of two people who support us. 
  • The data OPH has collected from those who have tested positive for the virus in the first two weeks of September shows that: 
    • 1 in 2 people who test positive have been exposed to the virus through their household. It is important to note that the first person with COVID-19 in the household obtained it while in the community. 
    • 1 in 4 people who test positive are exposed to the virus from members outside of their household through social interactions in indoor or outdoor settings—this is a major driver of transmission in Ottawa and is happening at social gatherings. 
  • Exposure occurs in a variety of settings. OPH has created an infographic that provides a visual of the different exposure sites in Ottawa to help paint the picture.   

  • OPH has partnered with Ottawa Neighbourhood Study to present COVID-19 data rates and counts on a monthly basis. The data up to August 31 can be found on the mapping section of OPH’s website. It’s important to understand that this tool does not identify “COVID-19 hot spots” in Ottawa, but rather showcumulative rates of COVID-19 diagnoses and their distribution by neighbourhoodsCOVID-19 remains a present risk in every single community within Ottawa. Generally, urban areas tend to have higher population density, which can lead to transmission. Further, social determinants of health, such as income and ethnicity, can contribute to differences in disease prevalence and health behaviours. 
  • Reminder that the warning period for the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-Law is now over. Officers will continue to focus on education; however, tickets will be issued in cases where a warning is not deemed sufficient. 
  • Starting today, indoor public skating is available by reservation at five city arenas. Skating schedules will be available online. Skating capacity will be limited to 25 skaters on each rink, and you can reserve your 50-minute skate time up to two days in advance. The following rinks will be available: 
    • Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex – Orléans 
    • Sandy Hill Arena 
    • CARDELREC Recreation Complex – Goulbourn  
    • Minto Recreation Complex – Barrhaven 
    • Bell Centennial Arena 
  • Registration for the city’s recreation and arts programming starts Monday, October 5. You can find the eGuides on the city’s website. All programs have been adjusted to adhere to the new COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

 

Province Update 

  • Last week, in response to the growing number of individuals testing positive for COVID-19, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, implemented new restrictions to reduce the risk of transmission. The changes began on September 26 and include: 
    • Prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m. and prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on the premises after 12:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. (including employees). Further, requiring establishments to close by 12:00 a.m. and remain closed until 5:00 a.m. except for takeout or delivery. 
    • Close all strip clubs across the province. 
    • Require businesses or organizations to comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening for COVID-19. 
  • The Ontario Government has released a plan that will enable the province to quickly identify, prevent, and respond to surges and waves of the virus to protect residents. The $2.8 billion COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 aims to ensure the province’s health care, long-term care and education systems are prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall, including a second wave of COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season. The six key areas are: 
    • Maintaining strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management. 
    • Implementing the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history. 
    • Quickly identifying, managing, and preventing COVID-19 outbreaks. 
    • Accelerating efforts to reduce health service backlogs. 
    • Preparing for surges in COVID-19 cases. 
    • Recruiting, retaining, training, and supporting health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers. 
  • The Ontario government released updated COVID-19 modelling, showing an increase in positive COVID-19 case infections. This surge in cases can be considered the province entering the second wave of the pandemic. Key highlights from the modelling update include: 
    • Ontario is currently on an upward trajectory similar to what its peer jurisdictions, including Victoria, Australia and Michigan in the United States, have experienced. 
    • Cases are currently doubling approximately every 10 to 12 days. 
    • The growth in cases are in all age groups. 
    • Forecasting suggests that Ontario could be around 1,000 cases per day in the first half of October. 
    • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy is currently steady, but it is predicted that admissions will likely rise with an increase in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized. 
    • Ontario may see between 200 and 300 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds per day if cases continue to grow. 
    • In order to reduce the spread and the number of new cases, it remains critical that Ontarians continue to adhere to public health measures, including avoiding large gatherings, physical distancing, and wearing a face covering. 

 

Federal Government 

  • In an effort to reduce wait times and increase capacity at COVID-19 assessment centres, Health Canada announced the approval of a new rapid nasal test for COVID-19. This new test would allow individuals getting tested to get their results back within minutes.  

Stay safe, be COVIDWise. 

Take care, 

Jenna Sudds