Kanata North COVID-19 Update November 5

This week has been busy! On Wednesday, I attended a Special City Council Meeting to table the 2021 Budget. The 2021 Budget will be a difficult one considering the financial unknowns from the COVID-19 pandemic. I will be spending the next couple of days going through it in detail to ensure that we are making decisions that provide the greatest value for your tax dollars while taking the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic into consideration. I encourage you to review my November 2nd blog post for details. Please contact me with any questions or feedback you may have. 

This week, we also heard from the Ontario government regarding reopening plans. I know this comes as welcomed news for our small business community. I am pleased to see that our small businesses will be able to open once again; however, we must remember that COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. We are not out of the woods yet. This is not the time to be careless. We must be COVIDWise to keep our community and local businesses safe. We have flattened the curve once through this pandemic, and we can do it again. Following the basic recommendations including physical distancing, frequent hand washing, staying home when you are sick, and wearing a mask are tools that we can use to fight this and learn to live with COVID-19.  

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 494 new confirmed positive cases: 
      • Friday + 97 
      • Saturday + 73 
      • Sunday + 132 
      • Monday + 65 
      • Tuesday + 28 
      • Wednesday + 48 
      • Thursday + 51 
    • Sadly, there were 13 deaths this week. This brings the cumulative total to 7,324 individuals with COVID-19 infections and tragically 334 residents of our city who have died. 
  • Hospitalizations 
    • This is an important metric to understand the capacity and demand that hospitals are facing. We continue to see a growing number of individuals being hospitalized. Currently, there are 54 individuals in hospital and 4 people in the intensive care unit (ICU). There has been a cumulative total of 438 individuals hospitalized and 95 people admitted into the ICU since the beginning of the pandemic. 
  • Outbreaks 
    • Currently, in Ottawa, there are 45 ongoing outbreaks. This is crucially important information as these are locations where transmission can occur quickly. These include areas like long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospitals, schools, and childcare centres. 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, 92% of the ICU beds are in use and 37% of ICU ventilator beds are in use. 
  • % Positivity Rate 
    • This is the percent of all COVID-19 tests processed which result in a positive result for the infection. This is currently at 3.2%, a number too high to be sustainable and we must work to bring it down. Positivity rate is another metric to show the amount of virus in our community and the lower the number the more likely COVID-19 is spreading slower in our community.  
  • 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 83%, due to the high number of cases and number of individuals getting tested. Additionally, it’s also important that contacts of those cases are reached within 24 hours and this is being done 87% of the time. If the number of individuals infected with COVID-19 continues to increase, the amount of resources available to OPH will not be sufficient to continue contact tracing.  
  • Number of Contacts Per Infected Cases  
    • Currently, the average is 3. 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. 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.   

In addition to the data provided in the COVID-19 dashboard there is also new data on the amount of COVID-19 found in wastewater. This is particularly helpful information as the wastewater that is tested for COVID-19 is not influenced by the testing parameters or the amount of testing. Currently, the data shows a decrease in the amount of COVID-19 found in wastewater. You can find more information here 

City Updates 

  • Earlier this week, Dr. Vera Etches announced the need for a new approach to the pandemic response that focuses on learning to live with COVID-19, with caution. The goal of the response to the pandemic continues to be keeping hospitalizations and death numbers low, while minimizing community disruption. It is vital that, as a community, we understand the importance of lowering the rates of COVID-19. Lowering the rates of community spread will help us keep our school communities more safe and avoid over capacity at hospitals. This is part of the important work we need to do to learn to live with COVID-19 and coexist with the virus. You can read the latest update from Dr. Etches here 
  • On WednesdayCouncil tabled the 2021 Draft Budget, which balances between supporting evolving community needs and delivering essential municipal services, while also responding to COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic there have been significant revenue losses and unplanned costsThe city reduced costs to help maintain a stable financial position and mitigate expenses despite declining revenues. The first phase of the Ontario Safe Restart Agreement delivered $124.3 million in federal and provincial funding to Ottawa’s COVID-19 response efforts, helping to mitigate the impact on this year’s budget. Next year’s investments are key to our COVID-19 recovery. 
  • I encourage you all to get your flu shot. Influenza mirrors COVID-19 in many ways, including symptoms and transmission. You can help protect yourself from influenza by getting the influenza vaccineOPH is holding community flu clinicsand the closest location for our community is the Eva James Memorial Centre in Kanata South. Appointments can be made online or by calling 613-580-6744.   


Provincial Updates 

  • Earlier this week, the government of Ontario released a new framework that takes a gradual approach to reopening the province. This new system introduces preventative measures to help avoid closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be implemented or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings. 

  • Starting on November 7, Ottawa will be transitioning to this new plan, which will allow more businesses to reopen. Ottawa is categorized as an Orange level, which is similar to Stage 2 Reopening that we entered in the summer. This will allow for gyms and restaurants to open; however, with added restrictions including lower capacity and strict closing times. 
  • Beginning November 16, eligible businesses that have been financially impacted due to COVID-19 public health measures will have the opportunity to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates. Many businesses should expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of finalizing and submitting their completed application. Eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, gyms, and cinemas. 
  • Last Friday, the Ontario government announced that they will be launching Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care program in five communities across the province, including one in Ottawa. This program will help seniors on long-term care waitlists stay safe in the comfort of their own homes and communities for longer.  

Lastly, a new campaign called One Million Reasons has been launched by OPH and local hospitals. We all have our reasons to stop the spread. We are one million people strong and the actions of individuals do make a difference. I encourage you to think of your reasons to stop the spread and make educated decisions before heading out this weekend. 

Stay safe. Be COVIDWise. 

Take care, 

Jenna Sudds