Ottawa COVID-19 numbers trend down, not enough to remove restrictions

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting four new deaths linked to COVID-19 in the city, and 58 new cases today (Oct. 29).

There have been 321 deaths related to COVID-19 in the capital since the beginning of the pandemic.

As of Thursday, October 29, there are 60 Ottawa institutions reporting COVID-19 outbreaks. OPH is also tracking three community outbreaks – all from workplaces. The number of community outbreaks was at 10 last weekend.

There are now seven Ottawa schools dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.

OPH is reporting another 58 new cases of COVID-19 in the city and says there are 670 active cases of the virus in the community.

According to public health officials there are 40 people hospitalized with COVID-19 – five of whom are in intensive care. Since March, there have been 6,830 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, 5,839 of which have been resolved.

As COVID-19 case counts trend downwards in Ottawa, the city’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says the National Capital Region is not yet ready to lift modified restrictions on businesses, as implemented by the province on Oct. 10.

The restrictions include no indoor dining at restaurants and bars and closed gyms for a minimum of 28 days.

A week after restrictions went into place, and for 11 straight days between Oct. 17 and 28, OPH’s daily COVID-19 case count has stayed under 100.

“It’s possible that had some effect, certainly I see the rates dropping significantly in people in their 20s,” Etches said yesterday (Oct. 28). “It’s encouraging because that age group has seen higher rates and if we bring that down it helps decrease the spillover into other age categories with more risk.”

The doctor says trends are good, but the overall level of infection needs to improve before any discussion can take place regarding a move back to Stage 3.

“Is it low enough yet to avoid numerous outbreaks, and outbreaks that lead to death?” Etches said. “It’s not low enough yet.”

The chief medical officer also elaborates on the wastewater research being done at CHEO, saying recent results are not as encouraging as she would have hoped.

“I don’t see yet a nice beautiful precipitous drop in COVID-19 in the community based on the wastewater data like we would have hoped for,” she said.

Health officials are reminding everyone the best way to stop community transmission of the virus is to wash hands frequently, physically distance from others and wear a mask.

Test result wait times improving

It’ll now take patients an average of 22 hours to get their COVID-19 test results back in Ottawa, according to the city’s daily testing update by the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce — if you are a high priority test result, that is. 

According to the report released Wednesday afternoon, 3,376 lab tests have been performed in the city and, in the last 24 hours, 1,547 swabs have been taken at assessment centres.  The most swabs were taken at Brewer Park Arena with a total of 408. This is followed by the Moodie clinic with 316 and the Coventry Drive-Thru Assessment Centre with 273 swabs.

As of yesterday, there is currently a backlog of 2,839 tests in the queue.  The taskforce says during the week of Oct. 17 to the 23, the positivity rate among Ottawa residents was at 2.7 per cent. 

As of Tuesday, the CHEO Assessment Centre at Brewer Park Arena has changed when appointment slots were released. They will now be available for booking every evening at 7 p.m. for the next day. 

No news on gym re-openings

Ontario’s premier will not specify when gyms and fitness centres will re-open across COVID-19 hotspots including Ottawa but did say he’s pushing to have them back in operation soon.

“There is no one that wants to open up the economy more than I do,” Premier Doug Ford said. “There is no one pushing the health table more than I do. I have confidence we’re going to work with the four regions that are shut down. I have been in constant conversation with Mayor Watson and Tory, the mayors in Peel and York. No one wants to get these restaurants and fitness centres opened up more than I do.”

This comes after GoodLife Fitness sent out an email to more than 150,000 of its members urging them to reach out to their MPPs and “stand up for fitness.”

Yesterday, Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, said she has been advised by heath officials that infection is happening across gyms and fitness centres across the province.

Gyms and its operators maintain, however, that high-rate transmission does not happen in its health clubs.

Ford said that he’s pleased with the progress Ontario has made since the start of the second wave, aiming to reassure the province that if the rate of infection slows, institutions and businesses will reopen in due time.

Gyms will remain closed across COVID-19 hotspots as part of modified Stage 2 restrictions until at least Nov. 7.