Good evening Kanata North,
As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together it’s important to continue following the province-wide stay-at-home order. I’m sure many parents are happy that it was announced today that elementary and secondary schools are to reopen in Ottawa on Monday, February 1. This is great news, but we have to remain vigilant. The decision to return to the classroom was made with careful consideration after reviewing the results of our ongoing stay at home order.
With that said, please continue to stay home, only leave your home for essential trips, and limit your social interaction to those in your household. When in public, practice physical distancing, wash your hands regularly, and always wear a face covering—even when outdoors, if you find yourself in a crowded area.
While the vaccine supply is delayed, it is gradually becoming more accessible. On Tuesday, the City of Ottawa held a Vaccine Rollout Technical Briefing. You can find the slides on my website. We are presently in phase one of vaccine distribution, meaning high-risk members of our community are prioritized for doses at this time, such as those in long term care and their caregivers. I will continue to share updates as they become available.
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:
- 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 482 new confirmed positive cases:
- Friday + 96
- Saturday + 84
- Sunday + 44
- Monday + 30
- Tuesday + 73
- Wednesday + 74
- Thursday + 81
- Sadly there were 5 deaths this week. This brings the cumulative total to 13,153 individuals with COVID-19 infections and tragically 420 residents of our city who have died.
- This is an important metric to understand the capacity and demand that hospitals are facing. Currently, there are 39 individuals in hospital and 6 people in the intensive care unit (ICU). There has been a cumulative total of 646 individuals hospitalized and 140 people admitted into the ICU since the beginning of the pandemic.
- 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.
Healthcare 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, 94% of the acute beds are in use. 82% 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 2.6% 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.
- 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 78%. Additionally, it’s also important that contacts of those cases are reached within 48 hours and this is currently being done 97% 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 1.2. 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.
- As part of the pandemic response, the provincial government has asked all transit agencies to reinforce that transit should be used for essential purposes only. Reducing ridership on OC Transpo to only necessary trips is encouraged throughout the remainder of the stay-at-home order, currently to expire on February 9, 2021.
- Skating outdoors in your neighbourhood and being active is important to you and your family’s overall health. Here are some measures in place to help keep you and your family safe from COVID-19.
- First, it’s important to keep at least two metres from anyone outside your household.
- In addition to provincial regulations, the City’s Medical Officer of Health issued an order to limit boarded outdoor skating rink capacity to 25 people at once. Rinks are large enough to ensure the 25 skaters can maintain a two-metre distance and are not considered an organized social gathering. People who are within 15-metres of the edge of the rink must wear masks. Ottawa Public Health recommends wearing a mask on the ice too, as it gives you extra protection against COVID-19. Puddle rinks in parks are community skating pads without boards. Since they are smaller, the capacity for those rinks are 12 people.
- No hockey, shinny, sticks or pucks on the ice. Provincial regulations do not allow any team or scrimmage sports activities on public rinks. To prevent a situation where a pick-up game of shinny could develop, the City has prohibited sticks, pucks or any other sports equipment on its ice surfaces.
- The City has an online reservation system at ottawa.ca/skating that gives residents access to 45-minute skating slots at its four outdoor refrigerated rinks. You can reserve a time two days in advance, with new timeslots opening at 6 pm each day.
- City Hall Rink of Dreams
- Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams
- Lansdowne Skating Rink
- Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink
- Residents can have their own skating rinks and ice pads on their properties. Sticks, pucks and nets are permitted on home rinks. However, you should treat access to your home rink the same as you do your home – it should only be used by the people within your household, and not your neighbours. Remember, the five-person outdoor gathering limit still applies for people outside your household and physical distancing should always be maintained.
- As announced today, 280,000 more students are to return to the classrooms this coming Monday, February 1, 2021. The school boards across the province to resume in-school education next week are as follows:
- Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
- Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario
- Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien
- Conseil scolaire de district catholique du Centre-Est de l’Ontario
- London District Catholic School Board
- Ottawa Catholic District School Board
- Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
- Thames Valley District School Board
- Upper Canada District School Board
- The Ontario government is opening schools with caution and they want to ensure they stay open. They’ve put forward enhanced testing and screening measures to assess the situation and ensure schools are safe for students and staff.
- On December 22, 2020, the provincial government announced that to support Ontarians during the province-wide lockdown resulting from the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, a temporary fixed hydro rate of 8.5¢/kWh for all time-of-use and tiered customers would be in effect from January 1 to January 28, 2021. On January 27, 2020, to align with the government’s Stay-at-Home Order, the temporary rate was extended until February 9, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.
- The Prime Minister issued a reminder that people should not be planning non-essential travel or vacation travel outside the country. He added “we could be bringing in new measures that significantly impede your ability to return to Canada at any given moment without warning.”
Please continue your efforts to shop local whenever you can to support our local businesses.
Lastly, I’d like to remind everyone that it is okay to not be okay. It’s now more important than ever to stop and check up on your mental health. If you’re struggling, don’t do so in silence. Please seek help if needed. Visit the Ottawa Public Health website for resources on how to look after your mental health.
Stay home. Stay safe. Be COVIDWise.