OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 22 new cases of COVID-19 in the city today (Nov. 18) and two deaths related to the coronavirus, adding numbers in a few key categories are continuing to fall.

The two deceased bring Ottawa’s pandemic death toll to 363. There are still 35 ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in local institutions. There are seven schools still in outbreak status. Eight long-term care or retirement homes have reported deaths during Ottawa’s second wave of COVID-19.

The number of active cases in the city continues to fall – now at 411. At the height of the so-called second wave, numbers were well past 1,000. OPH says there are 43 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Wednesday, Nov. 18, with four of those patients in intensive care. Since March, there have been 7,990 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, of which 7,216 have been resolved.

Education minister says extended school break not in the cards

Just under a month ago, the province released data showing since Aug. 1, the biggest source of infection and transmission in Toronto has been through its schools.

At the time, modelling suggested 22 per cent of new COVID-19 cases since Aug. 1 were out of the city’s many schools and daycares.

Ontario’s Education Minister announced today (Nov. 18) there will be no extended holiday break across the province’s school boards citing the Ford government’s “strong safety protocols.”

“We are fully committed to building upon our national leading plan to keep kids learning and safe,” Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said. “We will continue to consider any option and take decisive action to ensure we deliver on this shared priority of keeping schools open in January and beyond. As we safeguard the progress we’ve made in our schools, we will continue to closely monitor all indicators, trends and numbers to protect the safety of our children, their families and all frontline staff in Ontario’s schools.”

Ontario once again reported more than 100 new COVID-19 cases across provincial school boards on Wednesday, with just more than 1,100 new infections confirmed in the past two weeks.

Currently, there are more than 650 schools in Ontario with at least one COVID-19 case.

“Ontario’s safe schools plan has worked to keep students safe from COVID-19, while allowing them to continue their learning journey and resume safe social interactions with their friends and classmates,” Lecce released in a statement. “We have consulted with the Chief Medical Officer of Health as well as the Public Health Measures Table and have determined that an extended winter holiday is not necessary at this time, given Ontario’s strong safety protocols, low levels of transmission and safety within our schools.”

On Tuesday, Lecce had hinted at the possibility of an extended school break for kids during the holidays, saying an announcement was imminent in an effort to inform parents ahead of time.

Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford has remained adamant closing schools is not a priority.

“Our goal, all of us, what I am hearing out there is parents want their kids in school,” Ford said yesterday (Nov. 17).