May 7 COVID-19 update: Ottawa stabilizing, window visits back, Greyhound halts service, OFA says fed help not enough

OTTAWA – Ottawa’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vera Etches sats the situation is stabilized but the danger isn’t over.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 21 new local cases of coronavirus yesterday (May 7), along with one additional death. That brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Ottawa to 1,558, with 139 deaths. OPH adds 23 institutions are dealing with outbreaks, while about 59 per cent of residents that tested positive have recovered.

Dr. Etches is describing the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa as “stabilized,” however, she is stressing there is still work to be done.

“When we talk about peak and the post-peak period, we get the idea that there’s a mountain we’ve gone up, we’ve stopped [the virus] and we’re coming back down, but it’s a bit more like, actually, we’ve held the infection there and we’re trying to keep it at a manageable level,” Etches said in yesterday’s media briefing.

She says there are still a lot of infections in the community.

“It’s not leading to a wide-spread increase [in new COVID-19 cases], but we still have to contend with it,” Etches said.

The chief medical officer of health says residents still have to do their part to continue to physical distance from others and follow the instructions of health officials during the pandemic.

“I’m not a wrestler,” Dr. Etches said. “But somebody was telling me, ‘It’s like we need to keep [COVID-19] pinned down to the mat.'”

Greyhound halts all bus service

CANADA – Greyhound Canada is temporarily slamming the brakes on all of its busing routes and services as ridership plummets amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The transportation company says starting May 13 it will halt all routes until passenger demand recovers. Greyhound Canada says it made the decision after its ridership dropped by 95 per cent.

The operator says it already cut costs across its business and “made significant outreach efforts” to provincial and federal governments seeking financial support. It says 400 employees will be affected by the decision.

Greyhound Canada has pulled back on its Canadian services in recent years. In 2018, the company announced it was cancelling buses in most of western Canada, blaming plunging demand.

CHEO offering emergency respite

OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is providing emergency respite local families of children or teenagers with autism or other special needs, during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The hospital says it heard from a number of families that need help, so it decided to launch an emergency respite service which will be in place until early summer and then be re-evaluated.

Respite, in this case, is defined as care delivered by CHEO clinicians in the place of family caregivers so they can have a temporary break from the responsibilities of providing care to a family member at home. The clinicians at CHEO are highly trained healthcare professionals with experience working with children and youth who have special needs.

The sessions are being held at CHEO for free and are allotted in four-to-six hour blocks, Monday to Friday. The hospital says the program can currently accommodate up to 35 children or youth per week . 

“Emergency respite does not replace therapy for special needs children,” vice president, Child Development and Community Services at CHEO Monique Lugli released in a statement. “This programming focuses on delivering fun, recreational activities with children and youth so that family caregivers can have a temporary break from the responsibilities of providing fulltime care at home during this pandemic.”

CHEO will consider growing the program and reaching more children with broader special needs across the region if there is demand.

The children’s hospital is using a clinically informed decision aide to fill its new program. Eligibility is not diagnosis specific, it is needs-based, and the goal is to help as many children and youth with special needs as possible. Considerations include the following factors:

Behaviour and level of distress of the child or youth

Family stress such as single parent, housing issues

Psychosocial factors such as increased isolation, cultural barriers

Access to support including family, friends, community organizations, spiritual support

When onsite, CHEO says every hospital safety precaution is in place, including screening, physical distancing, hand hygiene and universal masking. CHEO clinicians also have full access to Emergency Department support services if required.

Anyone interested in CHEO’s respite care for children and youth with special needs is asked to email

City looking for tech tips to fire up economy

OTTAWA – Ottawa is hoping Ottawa businesses can bring their expertise to the table and help the city get back on its feet.

The city is accepting proposals for technology innovations that will accelerate Ottawa’s ability to get the workforce back to work and safely resume business operations, the city announced on its website today (May 7).

As pandemic restrictions ease in the months ahead, the city says this will bring new challenges to the community and for the businesses within it.

Titled The Innovation pilot program – Recovery Stream, the city is seeking Innovative project ideas to support public health efforts or stimulate economic recovery. They are accepting proposals in many sectors including health, tourism, festivals and events, restaurants, retail, construction, transportation and food supply.

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to test and quickly deploy their technology Innovations in real life testing environments with the city or one of its economic development partners. The program will provide companies with feedback on their innovations prior to scaling and production. The city is accepting proposals until Wednesday May 20. for more information visit their website here.

OFA says fed ag help not enough

ONTARIO – The Ontario Federation of Agricultures (OFA) President Keith Currie says he’s disappointed the federal government’s $262 million assistance program for the agriculture industry fell short of the $2.6 billion requested.

 Currie says without more financial assistance from the federal government, food prices could increase.

“We’re going to see even stronger increases, not just for the meat sector, but even horticulture, where labour restrictions have meant production is down,” Currie released in a statement. “There’s a whole myriad of problems across all agriculture centres here that really, truly need to be addressed to address the food security issue.”

Currie adds many industries including tourism and aviation will have a slow recovery after the pandemic, but agriculture ensures food security and a certain amount of economic stability right away.

LTC window visits back with a reservation

OTTAWA – Residents at the City of Ottawa’s long-term care homes will again be able to meet with their loved ones at the window, now that a new scheduling process and protocols have been put into place.

Starting today (May 7), visitors can call a long-term care home in advance to book a window visit with a resident. Only during these scheduled meetings will visitors be allowed within two metres of the building and city staff says all outdoor amenities remain off limits to visitors.

If a resident has a safely accessible window from a ground floor unit, the city says that can be used for a visit with the window closed for health and safety reasons. Otherwise residents will be brought to and from a common area window by staff members.

The city has deployed 20 more staff members to its long-term care facilities to allow for an expansion in services.

New signs and ground markings have also been added at city homes to ensure that visitors are complying with physical distancing requirements.

Visiting hours at the homes are the same each day: 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The Peter D. Clark and Gerry J. Armstrong will not be permitting visits Thursday, as the homes continue to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks. Those residents can still be reached via Skype, phone, email and/or letter.