OTTAWA – Local COVID-19 cases have broken the 60 mark three of the last four days as active cases again begin to outpace resolved cases.
For the first time in months, the resolved case percentage in Ottawa has dipped below 80 per cent.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting another 63 new cases of COVID-19 in the community, bringing the number of active cases the health organization is aware of to 458.
The good news is that, despite recent increases in case numbers, Ottawa hospitalizations remain steady with just 11. No one is currently in intensive care with the illness.
No new deaths reported Friday means the overall local COVID-19 death toll remains at 273.
There are 23 institutions dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, the worst of which is at West End Villa, where there has now been 63 cases confirmed (46 residents. 17 staff) and six deaths. The majority of the other outbreaks show just one or two cases each.
Since the beginning of the pandemic there have now been 3,486 lab-confirmed cases of the virus in Ottawa with 2,818 (79.4 per cent) of those resolved.
Ottawa chief medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches confirmed she believes the city has entered the so-called second wave of COVID-19 transmission.
“In July we saw a small wave, now we’re seeing another wave,” Etches told a media scrum earlier today (Sept. 18). “We don’t know how big it will get. When people talk about the ‘second wave’ they’re talking about, ‘Is it going to be a crisis again?’ That’s what we want to change. We want to flatten it – keep it a small bump.”
Earlier in the day Dr. Etches was an active participant in a meeting with Mayor Jim Watson and Premier Doug Ford.
Etches admits the fast increase in new cases does concern her.
“We can’t sustain a rapid rise in cases,” she said. “We need to keep it to a manageable level.”
The top priority is keeping community transmission low so that the virus doesn’t make its way back into long-term care homes, where hundreds have already died due to COVID-19 in Ottawa.
The city, lobbying for help from the province, is attempting to again increase testing capacity amidst long wait times at assessment centres and councillors of both rural and downtown core wards, desiring testing locations in their constituencies. El-Chantiry recently spoke to West Carleton Online about his doubts of the COVID-19 case numbers in West Carleton.
Etches says paramedics have started working at existing testing sites while new nurses are being hired and trained. Ontario Health East has sent in third-party contractors to operate a mobile pod outside of a school in Bells Corners, and the province has enlisted more help at the Heron Road care clinic.
Franco Ouest, a French Catholic high school in Bells Corners, appears to be one of the first stops for three pop-up testing units, pledged to the capital by provincial cabinet minister Lisa MacLeod, although locations are still being finalized.
MacLeod announced the pop-up testing sites are scheduled to open Friday.
The pop-up testing site at Franco Ouest is intended for staff and students of the school and is hoped to take pressure off other sites. Three students at Franco Ouest recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson expects a new east Ottawa COVID-19 assessment centre to be up and running in another week-and-a-half or two weeks, which he says should help with capacity issues at other sites.
He’s also in favour of a plan to have pharmacies be able to test for the virus – something Premier Ford says could be coming soon.
says residents need to be more aware of physical distancing, limit their close contacts, and hopefully the city can turn this uptick in to a blip on the radar.
“The thing that has kept the virus manageable in our communities is that people are staying away from each other,” Etches said. “In August, we got a little too relaxed, we had too many gatherings. We have to do it again.”