Kanata North COVID-19 Update February 4

Good evening Kanata North,

I’d like to remind you all that the province-wide stay-at-home order is still in effect. Please limit trips outside your home to just the essentials to help keep COVID-19 at bay, and to help keep our kids in school. When in public, practice safe physical distancing, wash your hands regularly, and always wear a face covering—even when outdoors, if you find yourself in a crowded area.

As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to be mindful of your mental health. Make time to get outdoors and enjoy this beautiful winter weather, but please do so with caution and consideration. Avoid busy places like rinks, crowded pathways, and tobogganing hills.

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 306 new confirmed positive cases:
      • Friday + 75
      • Saturday + 42
      • Sunday + 25
      • Monday + 27
      • Tuesday + 60
      • Wednesday + 38
      • Thursday + 39
    • Sadly, there were 2 deaths this week. The cumulative total is 13,485 individuals with COVID-19 infections and tragically 422 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 29 individuals in hospital and 6 people in the intensive care unit (ICU). There has been a cumulative total of 667 individuals hospitalized and 142 people admitted into the ICU since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Outbreaks
    • Currently, in Ottawa, there are 31 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, 101% of the acute beds are in use. 79% of the ICU beds are in use and 26% 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 9%. 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 73%. Additionally, it’s also important that contacts of those cases are reached within 24 hours and this is currently being done 73% 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 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

  • Vera Etches shared a special statement about the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa:
    • We continue to see encouraging indicators that the current public health measures are working to decrease COVID-19 in our community.
    • Opening schools does not mean we are in the clear or that we are ready to ease up on the other public health measures and provincial restrictions in place. We need to continue to reduce transmission in the community as lower levels make outbreaks less likely and many workplaces are currently affected. In other words, this is still “stay at home” except for students to attend school – an essential service for them.
    • Resources are available to help parents through transitioning to back to school. Visit the Supporting Schools during COVID-19 pageand the Parenting in Ottawa website for more information.
  • Parents must form the habit to screen children daily for symptoms of COVID-19 before they go to school. If your child meets the criteria, seek testing right away and ensure every member of the household stays home and self-isolates while waiting for the test results.
  • Ottawa Public Health works with its partners to offer onsite testing at schools, particularly to improve access to testing where there are a large number of high-risk contacts, as well as when they are seeking more information about potential transmission in a school.
  • Recently, Ottawa Public Health published a special report on COVID-19 in schools. This report found that while limited transmission of COVID-19 occurred within schools and peaked in early October, it declined soon thereafter. The report also showed that the vast majority – 85 per cent – of those who tested positive got their infection outside of school. And of the 55 outbreaks identified in schools, more than half involved only two individuals. The data in this report, in addition to the negative mental health impacts of school closures on our entire community, supports the decision to reopen schools in Ottawa.
  • Ottawa hospitals have highlighted that older adults who test positive for COVID-19 are sometimes waiting too long before going to the emergency department, which can lead to more severe illness and death. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, please get tested.
  • Reminder: if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19:
    • Monitor your symptoms carefully (try keeping a journal)
    • Don’t delay getting medical care if your symptoms worsen
    • Remember that your condition can change rapidly
    • If your symptoms progress, help is available by booking an appointment at the COVID-19 care clinics, which are out-of-hospital clinics specifically for this virus
    • If you need urgent care, go to the nearest emergency department, or call 911 immediately.
  • Tomorrow at 12 PM, Dr. Vera Etches will be participating in a virtual panel hosted by Canada 2020 to discuss the secondary effects of public health interventions against COVID-19, how they continue to impact the health and wellbeing of Canadians, and why they must not be ignored. Dr. Etches will be joined on the panel with Dr. Vivek Goel, Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto School, and Dr. Gail Beck, Clinical Director, Youth Psychiatry Program, The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.  You can register online here.
  • On Thursday, February 11 at 7 PM, CHEO and the Kids Come First Health Team are hosting a virtual event for parents of youth to discuss youth mental health and addictions. Parents can sign up online and submit questions in advance to the panel of experts.

Provincial Updates

  • As announced on Monday, Ontario is providing an additional $381 million in funding to school boards through the Safe Return to Class Fund. The money will be used to further protect students and staff and support online as well as in-person learning.
  • Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly advises that individuals and families:
    • only travel out of the province if it is essential
    • self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in or returning to Ontario.

Federal Updates

  • In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada. Under this order, if you have recently returned to Canada you must self-isolate (quarantine) and stay home whether you have symptoms or not. Even if you do not have symptoms right away, you are at risk of developing them and infecting others.
  • On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reported that a deal has been struck with Novavax to produce its COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, but the pharmaceutical company isn’t expected to be ready to roll out doses domestically until the fall at the earliest.
  • The government also shared that it has invested more than $1 billion in vaccine procurement agreements to secure a domestic supply, of up to 429 million doses, of seven promising vaccines—representing more than 10 doses for every Canadian. The government continues to take action based on the best available science, both in pursuing vaccine candidates and investing in biomanufacturing opportunities.

Thank you for your continued efforts to flatten the curve. Stay healthy, safe, and be COVIDwise.

Take care,

Jenna Sudds