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Positive COVID-19 signs, winter arrives and a councillor caught texting and driving during a meeting: Top stories in Ottawa this week – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
Ottawa’s COVID-19 case numbers continue to fall, Council approves Light Rail Transit to Barrhaven and an Ottawa councillor caught texting and driving during a Zoom city committee meeting.

CTV News Ottawa looks at the top stories in Ottawa this week

As Ottawa’s COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate continue to fall, the medical officer of health says most of the credit goes to Ottawa residents.

On Oct. 14, Dr. Vera Etches told Council that Ottawa had the highest rate of COVID-19 in Ottawa, at 70 cases per 100,000 people. On Nov. 28, Ottawa’s rate per 100,000 people was 21.

“It’s really thanks to the people in Ottawa, and thanks to the employers and others who are doing their part to make it possible,” Etches told reporters, adding people have been practicing physical distancing and wearing masks.

“These are the things that actually can bring COVID down in a community.”

While Ontario set records for highest COVID-19 cases in a single day, Ottawa’s case numbers remained low this week.  There were 19 cases on Nov. 24, 23 cases on Nov. 25 and 24 cases on Nov. 26. The high for the week was 55 new cases on Friday.

Ottawa’s COVID-19 rate per 100,000 people, test positivity rate and Rt number are inching closer to the threshold for Ottawa to move into the “yellow-protect” zone, but Dr. Etches said she wants to see solid declines before Ottawa moves.

Two COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared involving social events in Ottawa.

Last weekend, Ottawa Public Health declared an outbreak linked to a social event with four cases of COVID-19.

CTV News Ottawa reached out to Ottawa Public Health (OPH) to ask when the social event was held, how many people attended the social event and if anyone was ordered to self-isolate due to the social event.

“To protect the privacy of the individuals, OPH cannot disclose additional information,” said Ottawa Public Health in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

A second outbreak with three cases was reported during the week.

Ottawa received its first taste of winter weather this past week, with two storms moving through the region.

A storm Sunday evening and Monday delivered approximately 9 centimetres of snow, along with some rain and freezing rain. A storm on Wednesday blanketed Ottawa with approximately 10 centimetres of snow.

Environment Canada’s David Phillips tells CTV Morning Live that this week’s weather was a preview of what’s ahead for Ottawa through the winter months.

“Kind of a little fickle and fitful, hard to put a label on the winter. I think it’s not going to be memorable from a brutally cold or a balmy kind of winter, I think there will be something for everybody,” said Phillips.

“You’ll get a certain amount of snow, and you’ll get rain, you’ll get freezing rain – it will be a real mixed bag. I think it will make winter go faster when it’s very changeable and variable, but it’s hard to plan your activities based on such an up and down kind of weather scene that we see this coming winter.”

Ottawa snow

Council gave the green light to plans for a $3 billion light rail train line from Algonquin College to Barrhaven.

Councillors voted 18 to 4 to build the Barrhaven Light Rail Transit Line, including demolishing 120 homes in the Manor Village and Cheryl Gardens neighbourhoods for the route alignment.

On Tuesday, Ottawa ACORN members protested the plans outside Mayor Jim Watson’s home. On Wednesday, dozens of people rallied outside Ottawa City Hall.

On Saturday, Manor Village resident Alison Trowbridge told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “The Goods with Dahlia Kurtz” that council’s decision created a lot of stress for her and her seven-year-old son.

“Unfortunately, he has been watching all of this happen and it’s causing him tremendous stress. That’s not stress a seven-year-old should be having,” she said. “As much as he understands, he doesn’t understand the idea of a housing a homelessness crisis but he understands the words, ‘you’re going to lose your home’ and those aren’t the things he should be worrying about as a child.”

Trowbridge says Ottawa ACORN wants the City of Ottawa to establish a rental replacement bylaw to protect tenants and ensure they have a new place to live if forced from their homes.

The city will set up a working group to find housing solutions for the tenants, including Ottawa Community Housing.

Knoxdale Station

An Ottawa councillor who was recorded on a virtual committee meeting texting and driving says he voluntarily went to Ottawa police to pay a fine.

During Tuesday’s audit committee meeting on Zoom, Osgoode Coun. George Darouze could be seen getting into a car and driving while in the meeting. The video appeared to show Darouze using his phone while driving and wearing headphones.

“(Tuesday) morning I was texting and driving. This was stupid thing to do and I should not have done this. I commit to my family and residents that this won’t happen again,” Darouze said in a statement on Facebook.

On Wednesday, Darouze said he went to the Ottawa Police Service station on Leitrim Road to give a statement, in order for officers to issue a $615 fine under the Highway Traffic Act.

“I promise that this will never happen again. I want to continue to be an advocate for Safer Roads Ottawa and work with OPS on their Leave the Phone Alone initiative, and by requesting and paying this fine, I hope I and others can learn from my experience.”

George Darouze

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4 more deaths, 118 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba as Roussin hints at easing restrictions – CBC.ca

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Manitoba announced 118 cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths on Monday, the 11th consecutive day the province has recorded single-digit deaths.

The latest deaths are connected to current outbreaks, including a man in his 80s at the Rod McGillivary Memorial Care Home in Opaskwayak Cree Nation in the Northern Health Region.

The other three deaths are in the Winnipeg health region — a man in his 60s linked to the outbreak at the Southeast Personal Care Home, a woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak at Concordia Place and a woman in her 80s linked to the outbreak at Health Sciences Centre WRS3.

Of the 118 cases, 46 are in the northern region, which has been the location of many of the new cases in the past week.

The Winnipeg Health Region is nearly equal with 45.

There are 11 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region, nine in the Southern Health region and seven in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 10.6 per cent provincially and 7.3 per cent in Winnipeg.

(CBC)

“The actions and hard work by Manitobans continues to make a difference. We see our numbers having some way of fluctuating over the days, but we see they’re headed in a good direction,” said Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin.

“Today’s numbers continue to be encouraging [but] we’re definitely not out of the woods. We certainly still have a long way to go before we can return to normal.”

WATCH | Manitoba ‘many months away’ from return to normal: Dr. Roussin

Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says a variety of containment factors are helping health officials get a better grip on COVID-19 in the province, but don’t expect a return to “anything resembling being normal” for many months. 1:12

New outbreaks have been declared at Golden Door Geriatric Centre and Golden West Centennial Lodge in Winnipeg. Both sites have been moved to the critical (red) level on the province’s pandemic response system.

Meanwhile, outbreaks are now declared over at Heritage Lodge personal care home and Calvary Place Personal Care Home, both in Winnipeg.

Loosening restrictions

There are 3,108 active cases in the province (officials have said that number is inflated due to a data entry backlog) and 289 people are in hospital with COVID-19 — a drop of three from Sunday.

The number in intensive care has dropped to 35 on Monday from 39 on Sunday.

The total number of deaths in Manitoba due to COVID-19 is now 773.

Roussin was asked if the decrease in hospitalizations was enough to begin easing the current code red public health orders.

While the numbers are trending in the right direction, there are still many reasons to remain cautious, he said.

“There is still that demand on our health-care system. It is just now getting back to some of those elective procedures [which had been suspended],” Roussin said.

“So we do have to be cautious, but we do think that we’re in a position to start with some loosening of the restrictions.

“We’ll have some more details on that as the week goes on.”

The existing orders expire Friday night.

Last week, the province launched an online survey to gauge public perspective on the risk of contracting COVID-19 and how comfortable people are with easing some restrictions.

Roussin couldn’t say on Monday how many people have filled it out but “from initial reports, Manitobans were highly engaged.”

He expects more details to be released tomorrow or soon after and said he would give businesses notice as early as possible of any changes that affect them.

Roussin was asked if the new orders might include an increase in faith gatherings but said he didn’t want to speculate on the specifics.

Regardless of what changes are made “we are many months away from a place where we can start thinking about getting back to anything resembling being normal,” he said.

Don’t relax yet: Lamont

Manitoba Liberal Party leader Dougald Lamont said he was a little worried with the tone coming from Monday’s announcement, which suggested things are vastly improving.

It’s not so if you look a little closer, he said.

For instance, the outbreak in the north — specifically Lynn Lake — is concerning because “the hospital is on the verge of being overwhelmed,” he said.

And that is also bad news for Winnipeg because the majority of intensive care units in the province are located in the capital city.

“So we shouldn’t relax or let down our guard at all … because all of those people, ultimately, have to be treated here,” Lamont said, and that could still put strain on the health-care system.

He also expressed “extreme” concern about the low number of daily COVID-19 tests being conducted — just 1,322 on Sunday.

“We really don’t understand it. Months and months ago we were promised 3,000 tests a day and that is not happening,” he said.

Roussin mentioned Monday that Manitoba has not yet detected any cases of either the South African or U.K. coronavirus variants, “but we’re watching quite closely.”

Lamont said that wait-and-see approach has been a problematic one, which left Manitoba scrambling when the second wave hit in the fall.

He wants to see the province step up and start preparing for the variants rather than reacting only once they arrive.

“We need to be vigilant,” he said. “We need to be testing people for the COVID variant at airports and even at truck stops, if possible.

“Over and over again this has been the gang that can’t shoot straight when it comes to planning,” Lamont added, noting the Tories have still not released a vaccination rollout plan to the public.

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Orillia hospital to temporarily lead Roberta Place nursing home in controlling COVID-19 outbreak – Global News

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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has issued an order that will allow Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to temporarily lead Barrie, Ont.’s Roberta Place long-term care home in controlling a COVID-19 outbreak that has left nine dead.

According to the local health unit, 63 residents and 53 staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Testing is also being done to determine if the COVID-19 U.K. variant played a part in the Roberta Place outbreak.

Read more:
More than 100 COVID-19 cases, 9 deaths reported at Barrie long-term care home

“This outbreak unfortunately has spread very rapidly and affected a large number of the residents and staff,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s medical officer of health.

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“The leadership of OSMH, together with a number of other agencies and organizations, is necessary to bring it under control.”

Moving forward, Orillia, Ont.’s hospital will temporarily provide leadership support to Roberta Place by working with other local organizations that have been helping to control the outbreak, including the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, County of Simcoe and Georgian College.

Read more:
Six-week vaccine pilot project to kick off Monday at Metro Toronto Convention Centre

These organizations have been helping to make sure that staffing, training, equipment and supplies are in place so that Roberta Place can continue to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“For the past week, we have had the support of a dedicated human resources team, who have worked diligently to secure the highest quality staff to offset possible gaps at our home,” Stephanie Barber, the community relations coordinator at Roberta Place, said in a statement Sunday.






5:47
Coronavirus: Ontario projections show long-term care deaths could reach up to 2,600 deaths by Valentine’s Day


Coronavirus: Ontario projections show long-term care deaths could reach up to 2,600 deaths by Valentine’s Day

“Team members from many of our other long-term care homes, along with our regional operations team, have been deployed to further support the home.”

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The Canadian Red Cross has also been deployed to support Roberta Place in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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“The situation at Roberta Place is tragic and heartbreaking to all of us in Barrie,” local mayor Jeff Lehman said on Twitter Monday.

“Yesterday, in speaking with public health and others involved in the response, I know a major effort is underway to provide staff and support to Roberta Place.”

At this point, Lehman said the best thing people can do is “stop community spread” so it doesn’t reach long-term care.

The COVID-19 outbreak at Roberta Place was declared on Jan. 8. As of Monday, the local health unit says all residents and staff have been tested for the virus.

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According to the local health unit, 71 residents who weren’t sick and a number of other staff at Roberta Place received the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday through a mobile immunization unit.

Staff and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in Simcoe County and Muskoka have been receiving their COVID-19 vaccine doses at Barrie’s immunization clinic since it opened on Dec. 22, 2020.

Over the last several weeks, COVID-19 cases have been increasing in Simcoe Muskoka, with seniors age 80-plus having the highest infection rate.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ontario to complete long-term care home vaccinations in high-risk zones in upcoming weeks'



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Coronavirus: Ontario to complete long-term care home vaccinations in high-risk zones in upcoming weeks


Coronavirus: Ontario to complete long-term care home vaccinations in high-risk zones in upcoming weeks

— With files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca

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Ontario and Quebec report one-day drop in number of new COVID-19 cases – Kamsack Times

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MONTREAL — Some provincial authorities saw encouraging signs in the fight against COVID-19 on Monday, even as experts warned that it’s too soon to draw conclusions from the data and urged Canadians not to relax their efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

Officials in both Quebec and Manitoba noted that case numbers have dropped slightly in recent days and suggested that their populations’ efforts to control the virus could be paying off.

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Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said case numbers in his province appeared to be dipping.

“We’re definitely not out of the woods,” he told a news conference as the province reported 118 cases.

“We certainly still have a long way to go before we can return to normal.”

Roussin said the province is looking at easing some restrictions in the coming days, but that any changes would be gradual.

Quebec reported 1,634 new COVID-19 cases, which included about 200 from the previous day that weren’t noted because of a delay.

The province had broken the 3,000-case mark in early January and has a seven-day rolling average of more than 1,900 cases a day.

Health Minister Christian Dube noted on Twitter that the Quebec City region in particular had seen a decline in the number of new infections recently, which he saw as a sign that “the sacrifices that we’re asking of Quebecers are bearing fruit.” However, he asked Quebecers to continue their efforts in order to reduce the number of hospitalizations, which rose Monday after three straight days of decline.

Universite de Montreal public health professor Benoit Masse said it will take another week or two to know whether the downward trend will be sustained and to gauge the impact of the recently imposed curfew. He said the province should know more by Feb. 8, when curfew restrictions are set to lift.

Ontario also reported its lowest number of COVID-19 cases since early January, with 2,578 new infections, but the province completed a little more than 40,000 tests Sunday, compared with more than 60,000 the day before.

Nova Scotia also reported no new cases for the second time this month.

The news was less positive in New Brunswick, where the Edmundston region entered the province’s highest pandemic-alert level, ushering in new restrictions on businesses in the region after a record-breaking number of new cases on Sunday.

The province reported 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday after Sunday’s all-time high of 36.

Ontario announced that a new hospital set to open in Vaughan, Ont. would be used to relieve a capacity crunch because of rising COVID-19 admissions. Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott said the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital would add 35 new critical care beds and 150 medical beds to the province’s bed capacity.

Hospital capacity has been a concern in many provinces, with doctors in Ontario and Quebec being told to prepare for the possibility of implementing protocols to decide which patients get access to life-saving care in the case of extreme intensive care unit overcrowding.

Nationally, COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are still increasing, according to Canada’s chief public health officer.

Dr. Theresa Tam noted that hospitalizations tend to lag one or more weeks behind a surge in cases.

“These impacts affect everyone, as the health-care workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs,” she wrote in a statement.

She said an average of 4,705 COVID-19 patients a day were being treated in Canadian hospitals during the last seven days, including an average of 875 in ICUs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021

— With files from Steve Lambert, Shawn Jeffords and Sidhartha Banerjee

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