April 29 COVID-19 update: Ottawa ICUs full, Councillors want golf, Nepean testing centre to close

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is confirming a new record high number of COVID-19 patients in local intensive care units (ICU), and that’s not counting overflow patients hospitals are taking in from out of town.

As of today (April 29), there are 121 Ottawa residents in hospital with COVID-19 and OPH says 35 of them are in intensive care. The previous high for ICU cases in Ottawa was 34, reported on April 21.

OPH reports 118 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the community, but no new deaths are being reported. Ottawa’s pandemic death toll is at 503.

Montfort Hospital is dealing with a couple of new outbreaks of COVID-19, as OPH says 19 healthcare institutions are on outbreak status. Seven other outbreaks are ongoing at local childcare centres and one is linked to a school. The health unit is also tracking 14 community outbreaks.

Ottawa’s weekly COVID-19 incidence rate, identified by OPH as a key indicator of community spread, has fallen from 222 per 100,000 residents on April 17, to 130.5 per 100,000 by yesterday (April 28), but has now risen again today to 131 per 100,000. Residents being tested for COVID-19 are seeing positive results 9.9 per cent of the time.

The City of Ottawa has administered 94 per cent of the 321,510 COVID-19 vaccines its received to date. Another vaccination update is expected tomorrow (April 30).

OPH reports there are 2,149 active cases of the novel coronavirus in the city.

There have been 23,982 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa (21,330 resolved) since the spring of 2020.

Ontario is reporting 3,871 new cases of COVID-19, Thursday, including 16 in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s area, 10 in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark district and 12 in Renfrew County and district.

Ottawa councillors want outdoor recreation re-opened

OTTAWA – Sixteen city councillors have penned a letter to Premier Doug Ford urging the province to consider re-opening outdoor recreational activities that can be safely enjoyed in a physically distanced manner.

“The pandemic has stretched on for over a year now, and the residents of Ottawa are looking for safe ways that they can get outdoors to be physically active, and to maintain their mental health and well-being,” the letter, sent to the premier yesterday (April 28) reads. “Our concerns revolve around removing the few remaining safe ways that people can be active outdoors, in a physically distanced way.”

The letter says activities such as golf, tennis and pickleball all allow for physical distancing.

“We are supportive of fair, reasonable and evidence-based measures that will lead to better health outcomes,” the letter states. “We feel the benefits to the physical and mental health and well-being of re-opening outdoor recreational activities far outweigh the risks associated with keeping them closed.”

The 16 of 23 councillors who signed the letter include Diane Deans, Eli El-Chantiry, George Darouze, Jan Harder, Mathew Luloff, Mathieu Fleury, Catherine Kitts, Catherine McKenney, Tim Tierney, Riley Brockingston, Laura Dudas, Rawlson King, Glen Gower, Theresa Kavanagh, Jeff Leiper and Rick Chiarelli.

Missing signatures are Jenna Sudds, Keith Egli, Jean Cloutier, Shawn Menard, Scott Moffatt, Carol Anne Meehan and Allan Hubley.

Almonte COVID-19 clinic expands capacity

LANARK COUNTY – The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is expanding its vaccination capacity at the Almonte Vaccine Clinic.

As of today (April 29), more space will be available at the clinic.

Expanded availability has also been made available at the Almonte and District Community Centre at 182 Bridge St. to accommodate more vaccination stations and still retain physical distancing.

“Increasing access to vaccinations will help us keep our community safe,” Lanark County chief medical officer of health Dr. Paula Stewart said. “By working together, we will help to vaccinate every eligible person in our community, faster.”

Residents above the age of 60 can now book an appointment to get vaccinated at one of the COVID-19 clinics in Brockville, Kemptville, Smiths Falls or Almonte (or elsewhere in Ontario).

OPH says still on track for Phase 3 of vaccine rollout

OTTAWA – OPH officials believe the city is still on track to start Phase 3 of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout in July, as directed by the Ontario government.

“We have the capacity to do it,” Emergency and Protective Services general manager Anthony Di Monte said in a media availability today (April 29). “We have the infrastructure to do it. It really depends on vaccine availability. As you know, we’ve had some Moderna delays and diminished Pfizer [shipments], but we’re hearing positively that in the next few weeks that should pick up and we’ll start seeing more vaccines arrive.”

Di Monte says the city has been able to administer the first round of COVID-19 doses to about 35 per cent of all residents who are currently eligible  adding health teams are doing the best they can given vaccine shipment delays.

In a recent city-wide survey conducted by OPH to see who would be lining up to get their vaccine once their turn came around, nearly 100 per cent of the city’s oldest age group responded yes. However, only 75 per cent of younger age groups said they would.

“This is important,” Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said. “Older adults, about 50 and 60, are contributing to most of the hospitalizations and deaths. We’re really pleased the community is seeing the value of vaccination.”

On the other hand, Etches says vaccine hesitancy is not a very limiting factor when it comes to providing protection in the community, the limiting factor is access to vaccine.

Ottawa COVID-19 testing centres reduce hours, close in Nepean

OTTAWA – As Ottawa’s COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, so does the city’s testing centre strategy.

The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce said the assessment centre at Howard Darwin Centennial Arena will close as of 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 30. The Nepean location opened in partnership with GVT Labs and Ontario Health in early April as a temporary four-week solution to help meet the community’s increased testing needs. 

In March and April, a number of assessment centres extended their weekend hours and multiple temporary sites opened to accommodate a surge in COVID-19 cases across the city. The testing taskforce says, after careful consideration with key partners and a review of current demand, some assessment centres will be modifying their hours starting today (April 28).

The following centres will see their hours change:

Southwest Ottawa COVID-19 Assessment Centre (Located in Richmond)

  • Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

COVID-19 Care and Testing Centre – Moodie

  • Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (testing only, full care clinic not available on weekends)
  • Closed on Sundays

COVID-19 Care and Testing Centre – Ray Friel

  • Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (testing only, full care clinic not available on weekends)
  • Closed on Sundays

The taskforce says it will continue to evaluate assessment centre hours and updates will be shared with the Ottawa community. These changes are not expected to impact Ottawa residents’ access to COVID-19 testing, as the taskforce’s goal is to have same-day appointments available across the city. Sites will also have the capacity to ramp up and adjust hours accordingly if testing demand begins to increase again.

For more information on COVID-19 testing and assessment centres in Ottawa, click here.

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