April 7 COVID-19 update: Provincial stay-at-home order, New numbers high, Arnprior grocery store exposure, QCH delays surgeries

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – Starting first thing tomorrow (April 8), West Carleton residents will adapt to the third provincial stay-at-home order since a global pandemic was declared a year and three weeks ago.

 Ontario has declared its third state of emergency since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be implementing a provincewide stay-at-home order as of Thursday, April 8, 12:01 a.m. and will last a minimum of 28 days.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement today (April 7) after hours of discussion with his cabinet.

“I can’t stress this enough,” Ford said during a media availability held earlier today. “Things are extremely, extremely serious right now. And I’m extremely concerned. The situation is evolving rapidly, hour by hour. And as things change, as we learn more about these deadly new variants, as we see new problems arise, we need to adapt. We need to move quickly and decisively. And right now, above all else, our plan is to get needles in arms and protect our hospitals. That’s why, today, on the advice of the chief medical officer of health I’m declaring a state of emergency.”

During this time, all non-essential retailers will close to in-person shopping; in-person dining will be prohibited; and gyms and personal care services will be shuttered. Retailers will be able to offer curbside pickup and delivery services between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Big box stores will be allowed to remain open only to sell essential goods. Shopping malls will be limited to curbside pickup via appointment and delivery.

A select group of stores will be allowed to remain open by appointment only with a 25 per cent capacity limit. This includes safety supply stores; businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices; rental and leasing services including automobiles and equipment; optical stores that sell prescription eyewear; businesses that sell motor vehicles and boats; vehicle and equipment repair; and retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or services.

In addition to the closure of most businesses, the stay-at-home order makes it illegal to leave a place of residence, except for essential reasons such as work, school, trips to a grocery store or pharmacy and for health-care reasons.

“To boil it down as simple as possible, folks please stay home unless it is for an essential reason,” Ford said. “The situation is extremely serious, and we just need to hunker down right now. We need to limit mobility.

Ford added the province doesn’t “have enough police officers to chase people down” but asked everyone to cooperate.

solicitor general Sylvia Jones told reporters at Queen’s Park the measures “will be enforced.”

“It is critical now more than ever people adhere to the orders and follow public health measures,” Jones said.

The province will not be shuttering schools and child-care facilities throughout the stay-at-home order, despite the fact three of the province’s public health units, Toronto, Peel Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, have already done so.

“It will not involve any closures of schools,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said. “It was our promise to keep schools open and to keep them safe.”

The stay-at-home order comes after the province was placed into a shutdown on Saturday (April 3), which closed all in-person dining, fitness facilities and personal care services. Retail stores were all allowed to remain open with strict capacity limits.

Officials said at the time they were not issuing a stay-at-home order because it produced “tremendous ill effect on both children and adults.”

Since then, the Ford government has been criticized by hundreds of Ontario doctors and medical officers of health for not going far enough to contain the spread of COVID-19 variants.

The province’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table also indicated that a stay-at-home order was one of the measures necessary to control the spread of the variants. Even with a stay-at- home order, the table predicted Ontario could see up to 800 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICU) by the end of April.

The last time the province issued a stay-at-home order was in January following the winter holidays.

On Wednesday, the province confirmed 3,215 new cases of COVID-19 as well as 17 more deaths. The province’s seven-day average for number of cases recorded is now 2,987, up from 2,316 one week ago.

OPH confirms 196 new cases

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reports city’s COVID-19 incidence and positivity rates as well as hospital admissions continue to climb, confirming another local death and 196 new cases related to COVID-19.

There have been 470 Ottawa deaths due to COVID-19 since March 25, 2020. 

The number of residents hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped from 56 on Tuesday (April 6), to 69 today (April 7). The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units is up to 20. Those numbers are pandemic highs.

Ottawa’s weekly COVID-19 incidence rate is up to 132.1 per 100,000 residents.

The local positivity rate is up a percentage point, Wednesday, to 8.8 per cent.

There are 29 healthcare institutions dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa, along with eight schools and one childcare centre. OPH is also monitoring seven community outbreaks – three of which linked to restaurants.

OPH says it knows of 1,926 active cases of COVID-19 in the city, but it has recently lost the ability to contact trace for each individual who tests positive for COVID-19 due to the volume of calls that would have to be made.

There have been 18,632 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 (16,236 resolved) since March of last year.

Ottawa’s updated vaccination figures show it received more than 25,000 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses on Sunday (April 4), alongside previously reported shipments of AstraZeneca and Moderna. That brings this week’s total shipment to 48,740, which pushes the number of vaccines Ottawa’s received, to date, to 223,150. OPH says the city has administered 77 per cent of what it has received so far.

Renfrew County’s chief medical officer of health supports stay-ay-home- order

RENFREW COUNTY – The Renfrew County and District Health Unit’s (RCDHU) acting medical officer of health supports the province’s stay-at-home order because he thinks the province is losing the fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Robert Cushman is especially concerned about the recent rise in hospitalizations, especially among younger people, spurred on by COVID-19 variants.

The doctor says he’s seeing a jump in the number of high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus. The RCDU is currently chasing 200 contacts, which is the most it’s ever encountered throughout the pandemic.

Dr. Cushman says this shows people are socializing far too much, so the stay-at-home order is necessary for the health unit to catch up.

“We need this, otherwise we’re going to be in big trouble,” Cushman said in a recent interview. “We need this while we are catching up with vaccinations.”

The doctor explains, 80 per cent of recent cases in his region are related to “bad behaviour” and residents not adhering to public health guidelines.

He adds, widespread province-wide orders have their advantages too, since people tend to travel to areas with less restrictions when they are only enforced regionally.

“People move like water, they’ll take the easiest path,” Cushman said. “Water moves downhill, and people will move to a place with fewer restrictions.”

Arnprior grocery store an incident of COVID-19 exposure

ARNPRIOR – The Renfrew County District Health Unit (RCDHU) is reporting those who shopped at Arnprior’s Metro Grocery Store between April 1 to April 3 may have had a low-risk exposure to COVID-19.

The RCDHU reported someone associated with the store tested positive for the virus earlier this month, in a statement released yesterday (April 6).

Out of “an abundance of caution,” officials are asking those who attending the store at 375 Daniel St. on April 1, between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and on April 3, between 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to self-monitor for symptoms. 

The health unit is asking residents who develop COVID-19 symptoms to immediately self-isolate and call 1-844-727-6404 to arrange for testing.

Queensway-Carleton cancels some non-urgent surgery

KANATA – Non-urgent elective surgeries at the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) have been put on hold for the next month. 

In a statement released today (April 7), the hospital said surgeries that require a stay are being replaced by day surgeries. 

Hospital staff says many of the surgeries cannot be moved to day surgeries, and as a result, the staff is trying to find out how far behind this will put hospital wait times. 

QCH officials say they will also monitor the situation every few days to determine if they can go back to full surgical operations or if they will have to make further reductions to surgeries. 

The statement went on to state  “we know it is difficult for those waiting patiently for needed surgery but we are hopeful things will get better soon.”

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