Aug. 23 COVID-19 update: City 78% double-vaxxed, TD Stadium demands proof, COVID science table advisory member resigns

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says 78 per cent of the city’s residents over the age of 12 have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

That figure is up from 77 per cent at the end of last week (Aug. 20). Single-dose numbers in Ottawa remain at 85 per cent as of today, (Aug. 23).

OPH confirmed 22 new cases of COVID-19 today, pushing the local active case count up to 165, just five people remain hospitalized by the virus in Ottawa with one in intensive care.

There have been 136 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the capital over the last seven days.

OPH’s Delta variant data has been unavailable since Wednesday, Aug. 18, when it showed 111 cases in Ottawa over the course of the pandemic and 56 cases in the last 30 days. Ottawa’s weekly incidence rate is up to 12.9 per 100,000 residents.

The local positivity rate is down slightly on Monday, from 1.6 per cent to 1.5 per cent. Ontario is reporting 639 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths from the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 515 (80.6 per cent) of the infected people are not fully vaccinated or have unknown vaccination status.

There have been 28,140 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa (27,382 resolved) since March of 2020. The city’s pandemic death toll remains at 593 as there has not been a COVID-19-related death reported in the city since July 8.

TD Place at Lansdown demands proof of vaccination

OTTAWA – TD Place Stadium, home of the RedBlacks, Atletico Ottawa and the Ottawa 67’s, is requiring all attendees must show proof of vaccination.

Anyone over the age of 12, who is looking to attend an event at TD Place stadium or arena will have to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or they have received a negative test result as of Sept. 12.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) released a statement today (Aug. 23) stating it is looking forward to having full arena and stadium crowds again, but work still needs to be done to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the city.

“With vaccination rates lower than anticipated and with new variants emerging, there is a growing need for OSEG and TD Place to introduce additional measures to help protect the health and safety of our guests, employees, and the broader community,” OSEG said.

Children not eligible to be vaccinated are welcome to attend events but will have to complete the health screening questionnaire.
OSEG is not quite sure how it will expect patrons to show proof of vaccination yet.

“As you can appreciate, with a lack of a digital tool/electronic vaccine passport provided by government agencies, this is a difficult process,” OSEG said. “We are working hard and will do our very best to implement a process that is as user-friendly as possible. We’re still working out the details and more information will follow in early September. Given the unpredictability of COVID-19, we also anticipate that our process will evolve and refine over time.”

Masks will still be required at all sporting events, except while eating or drinking, as per provincial public health directives. OSEG says vaccinations received outside of Canada are accepted, as long as they are Health Canada approved (Pfizer, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson).

Provincial science advisory table member resigns

ONTARIO – An outspoken member of Ontario’s pandemic science advisory table announced he has resigned from the group over alleged “political considerations” he argued were influencing its work in a statement released today (Aug. 23).

The remaining body of experts on the table reject the claim.

Dr. David Fisman shared his letter of resignation from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table on social media today, saying he had grown “increasingly uncomfortable” with how much politics was driving what it did and that he had to repeatedly publicly dissent from its guidance.

“I do not wish to remain in this uncomfortable position, where I must choose between placid relations with colleagues on the one hand, and the necessity of speaking truth during a public health crisis on the other,” Fisman wrote.

Over the weekend, Fisman also alleged the table was sitting on “important modelling work that projects a grim fall.”

“If (the science table) is arm’s length from the government it should release its modelling. If it’s not arm’s length from the government we should have that conversation,” he wrote on Saturday.

Fisman was one of five science table members who recused themselves from the group’s advice to Premier Doug Ford on reopening schools in May, when the province was fighting a deadly third wave of infections that strained the healthcare system. The expert group recommended a regional school re-opening to mitigate harms from school closures — advice Ford did not heed, opting to keep all schools shut until the end of the academic year.

A spokesman for the science table said today the group is “completely independent of government and always has been.”
Robert Steiner said the table is not withholding pandemic modelling for the fall but is currently generating a number of models and has yet to reach a consensus.

Opposition politicians called on Monday for Ford, who has not addressed the media in weeks, to comment on the matter, which has surfaced as the province weathers a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the contagious Delta variant.

Ontario reported 639 new COVID-19 cases today, with 515 of the infected people not fully vaccinated against the virus, or with unknown vaccination status. 

A spokeswoman for the health minister said the science table is independent and did not comment on Fisman’s allegations of political influence. 

“The government remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of Ontarians and will continue to make decisions based on the best medical advice available from our Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Moore and his team,” Alexandra Hilkene said. 

Also on Monday, the province said it would extend a wage increase for personal support workers that was brought in during the pandemic to Oct. 31.

It government said the extension, which temporarily raises wages by $3-per-hour for workers in long-term care homes and similar facilities, will cost $169 million.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email