OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) continues to watch the number of active COVID-19 cases in the city drop and reports 37 new cases of the virus today (Nov. 19).

OPH is aware of 396 active cases in the community, which is the lowest number of active local cases since early September.  The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ottawa is also down slightly to 43, with four patients in intensive care.

OPH says there were no new COVID-19 deaths to report Thursday, leaving the city’s overall pandemic death toll at 363.

There are 32 local institutions dealing with outbreaks of COVID-19 along with five community outbreaks being tracked by OPH. The public health unit says one new community outbreak is being declared Thursday at a community organization – three people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the organization.

The number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ottawa since March is now up to 8,027, with 7,268 of them resolved.

The Ontario Hospital Association says the province has hit the critical mark of 150 COVID-19 patients in its intensive care units.

Earlier in November, medical experts advising the government noted the figure would mark a point where Ontario hospitals have to begin cancelling surgeries. The CEO of the hospital association says all regions are reporting increased admissions.

Premier Doug Ford said yesterday (Nov. 18) further restrictions are coming in virus hot spots because hospitals are reaching capacity. Ford says he expects to announce the new restrictions for Toronto, Peel and York Region Friday.

Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health says there are three key reasons why Ottawa’s COVID-19 situation is improving faster than in other areas of the province.

When comparing the national capital and Greater Toronto Area, Dr. Vera Etches says there are simply fewer people spread over more ground.

“What it comes down to is, can the virus spread effectively in the community,” Etches said. “It means that collectively, the million people in Ottawa, have more distance between them.”

In Ottawa, the virus might also have a harder time spreading in workplaces, says Dr. Etches.

“The large majority of [government and technology sector] employees are able to work from home, which really helps with physically distancing,” she said.

The third factor in Ottawa’s success in reducing COVID-19 transmission lately has been residents listening to a message that has been on repeat from OPH since the start of the pandemic: respect local health guidelines.

“These [measures] do work,” Etches said. “All we have to do now, is continue respecting them until a vaccine arrives.”

COVID-19 figures reported by Ottawa Public Health on Wednesday show active case numbers trending down (at 411, down from well over 1,000 weeks ago) and hospitalizations down below 50, with just a few people in intensive care.