March 25 COVID-19 update: Numbers in triple-digits, Bubbles on patios, Mayor wants pilot project here

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting two new COVID-19-related deaths, as well as 151 new cases of the coronavirus today (March 25).

Timberwalk Retirement Community is among 26 healthcare institutions dealing with outbreaks of the novel coronavirus today. OPH is also adding four more schools to its outbreak dashboard, while it monitors three outbreaks at childcare centres and four community outbreaks (two stemming from restaurants, one in healthcare and another in a service business).

On the one-year anniversary of the first Ottawa COVID-19 death, OPH is adding two more, which means 459 Ottawa residents have lost their lives due to the coronavirus since March 25, 2020.

Indicators of community spread continue to climb, as the weekly incidence rate is up to 59.1 per 100,000 and the local positivity rate is at 4.3 per cent.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are down one to 26, but the number of COVID-19 intensive care patients is now at eight.

OPH says it is aware of 817 active cases of COVID-19 in the city.

There have been 16,483 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa since March of last year, with 15,207 resolved.

OPH updates city-wide vaccination numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The latest report put Ottawa at 133,440 COVID-19 vaccine doses received and 99,886 administered.

Ontario is reporting 2,380 new cases of COVID-19 today, including 46 in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s region, 17 in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark district and four in Renfrew County.

Chief medical officer advises enjoy patios with bubble-mates only

OTTAWA – As residents head to the patios to soak up the beautiful weather, Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, says you should only do so with your household.

Etches is encouraging residents who want to visit a patio for a drink or meal, to only do so with members of their own household.

“The reason is because we know the more opportunity there is for people from different households to be together, where there is close contact and no mask wearing, the more opportunity for transmission, and we’re just not there yet,” she said in yesterday’s (March 24) media availability.

Etches says the day will soon come when residents can increase the number of opportunities where they are in close contact with people outside of their households, but everyone needs to continue being patient.

“We miss that, absolutely, but this is not the time to allow COVID-19 to go to higher and higher levels in our community,” Etches said. “We want to bring it under control quickly so that when people are protected with vaccine, we’ve got low levels to manage and we can really carry on with that progress toward a more normal life.”

Etches is encouraging everyone to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, but at this point, says close contact needs to be limited.

There has been some confusion around provincial COVID-19 safety guidelines for patios, and Etches felt it should be addressed.

“I think this is a conversation maybe we can clarify with the province,” Etches said. “It isn’t as clear as it could be in the legislation.”

Mayor wants pharmacy pilot project in Ottawa

OTTAWA – A pilot project offering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in pharmacies started earlier this month in Kingston, Toronto and Windsor-Essex, and Ottawa’s mayor hopes Canada’s capital can be a part of the project’s expansion. 

The program is expected to expand to more than 700 sites in the next few weeks in provincial COVID-19 hotspot areas.

Mayor Jim Watson says, due to the size of Ottawa, officials have submitted a request to the Ontario Ministry of Health to join the pharmacy vaccine expansion.

Despite rumours three pharmacies in Ottawa would be getting AstraZeneca doses in the expansion, the mayor says the city would need dozens of locations to make it a viable option. The capital spans over 2,600 sq/km.

The mayor added the more vaccine sites they are able to establish throughout the city, those numbers will help take the pressure of the current mass immunization clinics, as the rollout moves into younger age groups.

Ontario pharmacies are currently administering the AstraZeneca vaccines to those 60 and older. 

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