Kanata North COVID-19 Update January 7

Good evening Kanata North, 

Happy New Year! I wish we would start 2021 on a happier note, but sadly, as of January 4th, Ottawa has – once again – entered the red “control” status as a result of the rising COVID-19 cases. 

COVID-19 will spread if given opportunities to do so. Indoor gatherings and crowded public spaces invite transmission, and they must be avoided at all times. We must protect each other by being vigilant and by continuing to follow public health recommendations. 

Today’s provincial announcement might not come as a surprise to many, but it certainly puts an additional strain on families: elementary school students in Ottawa will not resume in-person learning until January 25. The positivity rate among school-aged children has increased sharply, which is a worrying situation. We need to keep our kids safe. Having three school age children doing virtual learning, I know how difficult it is to support our children with online schooling while managing work and other responsibilities 

 You can find available community resources on my website. Please reach out if you need help and please know, it is okay to not be okay. 

 

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 650 new confirmed positive cases: 
      • Friday 88 
      • Saturday + 133 
      • Sunday + 104 
      • Monday + 114 
      • Tuesday + 101 
      • Wednesday + 42 
      • Thursday + 68 
    • Sadly, there were 2 deaths this week. This brings the cumulative total to 10,750 individuals with COVID-19 infections and tragically 394 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 21 individuals in hospital and 9 people in the intensive care unit (ICU). There has been a cumulative total of 558 individuals hospitalized and 118 people admitted into the ICU since the beginning of the pandemic. 
  • Outbreaks 
    • Currently, in Ottawa, there are 40 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. Currently, 95% of the acute beds are in use82% of the ICU beds are in use and 33% of ICU ventilator beds are in use. This is a measure of the entire health care system.  
  • % 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 4.4%. 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 quite meeting this at 88%. Additionally, it’s also important that contacts of those cases are reached within 24 hours and this is currently being done 74% of the time. If the number of individuals infected with COVID-19 were 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 4.5. 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.   

 

City Updates 

  • As a reminder, we are still under the provincewide lockdown until Saturday, January 23, 2021. Details can be found in my update from December 21. I shared a detailed overview of what is open and closed in our community during this shutdown. This can also be found on my website. 
  • Large crowds have been observed at outdoor skating rinks, tobogganing hills and skiing trailheads, raising concern about public health and safety. As a result, Dr. Vera Etches has issued a Class Order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to all owners and operators of outdoor recreational amenities and to all persons accessing these amenities. The Order includes requirements relating to: 
    • A capacity limit of 25 persons on skating rinks and, for all other outdoor recreational amenities, at any areas where the public congregate, such as at the top of tobogganing hills, trail heads and access points; 
    • The requirement to maintain physical distancing of at least two (2) metres from persons outside one’s own household when using these amenities; 
    • Mandatory mask signage in locations where the public access the outdoor recreational amenities prior to actively participating in a recreational activity or when observing others participate in recreational activities; 
    • The prohibition of sports and activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within two (2) metres of each other; and 
    • The posting of signage, in conspicuous places, explaining the requirements of the Class Order. 
  • Under Provincial Regulations, no team sports are permitted, and the city is directing that only skating take place on all rinks with no sticks, pucks, balls or other sports equipment permitted on the ice. I have shared an update regarding use of the Beaver Pond, which can be found on my website, and would like to remind you that masks must be worn within 15 metres (50 feet) distance of the edge of the ice surface. While masks are not mandatory when skating, OPH recommends wearing one when skating for added protection. 
  • The city will implement an online reservation system for the city’s four outdoor refrigerated ice surfaces (City Hall Rink of Dreams, Lansdowne Park Skating Court, Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams and Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink), allowing residents to book free 45-minute skating times at ottawa.ca/skating.  
    • Starting this Saturday, January 9, reservations will be required to skate at the  following peak times: 
      • City Hall Rink of Dreams, 9 am – 11 pm daily 
      • Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams, 10 am – 10 pm weekends, 8 am – 10 pm weekdays 
      • Lansdowne Park Skating Court, 9 am – 10 pm weekends, 5 pm – 10 pm weekdays *hours subject to change 
      • Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink, 9 am – 10 pm weekends, 5 pm – 10 pm weekdays *hours subject to change 
    • Those who have made a reservation must show a copy of their confirmation email upon entry, either on a mobile device or on a printed-out paper. Refrigerated rink openings are weather-dependent, so be sure to check ottawa.ca before arriving for your reserved skating time. The 25-person limit remains in effect at all times. 
    • The reservation system will open on Friday, January 8 at 6 pm for residents to book skating times for Saturday and Sunday. Moving forward, reservations can be made up to two days in advance with new spots opening at 6 pm daily. A maximum of 4 skaters can be booked on each reservation. 
  • On Monday, Anthony Di Monte, General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services at the City of Ottawa and Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health, shared a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Update, which you can find on my website. 
    • Since Tuesday, the Pfizer vaccines are being administered in locations outside the Ottawa Hospital, bringing the vaccine to long term care residents across the city to protect some of our most vulnerable residents. This is an encouraging milestone!  
    • More details on COVID-19 vaccinations in Ottawa can be found on the OPH website. 
  • The city will be offering a wide range of virtual classes including arts, cooking, fitness, meditation, languages and more. These courses are offered in a real-time, live stream, interactive format. The eGuide will be live on Monday, January 11 and registration starts on January 14 with programs starting on January 25.  

 

Provincial Updates 

  • As announced today by the Minister of Education, schools in Southern Ontario will remain online until January 25. 
    • As COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate throughout the province, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is extending certain measures to keep students, education staff, and residents of Northern Ontario safe. This includes extending online teacher-led learning until January 25, 2021 for elementary school students in the 27 Southern Ontario public health unit regions and extending the shutdown in Northern Ontario for another 14 days, aligning with the shutdown period in Southern Ontario. 
    • Targeted testing done among students and staff in December 2020 confirmed that schools are not a significant source of transmission. However, with students having been at home for several weeks and with reports of concerning behaviour over the holidays, the positivity rate among school-aged children has increased sharply. Most troubling, the positivity rate for kids aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November, early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January. 
    • In response to increasing community transmission, in-person learning will be deferred to January 25, 2021 in Southern Ontario, which aligns with the planned return of in-person learning for secondary school students in these regions. Elementary students and secondary students in the seven Northern Ontario public health unit regions will proceed with returning to in-person learning on January 11, 2021.  
    • In order to continue to support remote learning, the ministry has recommended that a portion of the second half of federal funding, an additional $80 million investment, will be provided for additional technological devices, such as laptops and tablets, to support school boards in procuring about 160,000 additional devices province-wide. 
    • Financial support is also available for families during this temporary remote learning period through the Support for Learners program. Starting on January 11, 2021, an expanded Support for Learners program is providing $200 for each child or youth up to Grade 12 and $250 for each child or youth up to age 21 with special needs. Applications will be open until February 8, 2021. 
    • For those requiring additional support during this challenging period, Ontario is providing an additional $10 million in support of student mental health, including funding for Kids Help Phone to support children and youth across the province. School Mental Health Ontario will be providing mental health resources and strategies to support students during this period. 
  • The Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario advises Ontarians to limit trips outside of the home to trips for essential purposes only. Recreation is not a valid reason to cross the Quebec-Ontario border. Essential purposes include:  
    • Going to work  
    • Accessing health care and medication  
    • Grocery shopping 
    • Child care 
    • Exercise (remaining in the community where you live) 
    • Walking pets when required 
    • Supporting vulnerable community members to meet the needs above  
  • Travel outside of Ottawa (whether within Ontario or to another province) should be limited to essential purposes. (Note: the Public Health Agency of Canada advises avoiding all non-essential travel outside of Canada).   
  • If you have to travel outside of Ottawa for work or other essential reasons, here is some information to consider:  
    • Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and do not travel if you are sick.  
    • If anyone in your household develops symptoms of COVID-19, that person needs to stay home, self-isolate and get tested. All other household members will also need to isolate until that individual has tested negative for COVID-19.  
    • Do not carpool with people from outside of your household.  
    • Wear a mask, practice hand hygiene and maintain at least 2 metres of physical distance from those outside of your household.  
    • Do not eat, drink, or take breaks with people from outside your household.   
    • You may have to self-isolate upon your arrival and return depending on where you have traveled. The Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario advises people who arrive or return to Ontario from within Canada during the shutdown period, should self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival. This advice for self-isolation would not apply to those whose home is in Quebec and work in Ottawa and vice versa. (Note: arrival and return to Canada from another country continues to require two weeks of isolation as per the Quarantine Act). 

 

Federal Updates 

  • Yesterday, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, issued an Interim Order formalizing new COVID-19 testing requirements for all air travellers coming to Canada, and providing additional guidance to airline operators and the travelling public regarding the new pre-departure testing requirement that was announced on December 31.  
    • Effective midnight on January 7, 2021 (00:00 EST), regardless of citizenship, all travellers five years of age or older must provide proof of a negative laboratory test result for COVID-19 to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada.  
    • The test must be performed using one of two types of COVID-19 tests–either a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP)–and must be conducted within 72 hours of the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.  
    • All travellers coming to Canada must present this information at the time of boarding. 
    • Failure to do so will mean an automatic denial of boarding by the airline operating the flight to Canada. 

 

I implore you to please respect and follow the provincial lockdown measures and public health recommendations. Stay home, except for essential trips. 

Stay safe. Be COVIDWise. 

Take care, 

Jenna Sudds