What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 20

·8 min read
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 20
A pedestrian checks their phone while walking down Slater Street in Ottawa on Feb. 19, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A pedestrian checks their phone while walking down Slater Street in Ottawa on Feb. 19, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Andrew Lee/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa is reporting 53 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Saturday.

  • Come get your mail, overflowing U.S. post office tells Canadian customers.

  • One Ottawa neighbourhood turns 'even more friendly' during pandemic.

What's the latest?

Ottawa recorded 53 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Saturday. Another 23 cases were reported in western Quebec.

On Monday, the Outaouais will return to the orange zone on the province's pandemic scale, meaning gyms and restaurants can once again welcome customers inside, albeit with restrictions.

The U.S. Postal Service office in Ogdensburg, N.Y., says it's no longer able to hold on to an overflowing amount Canadian mail — and customers north of the border, including many in eastern Ontario, are now scrambling to make alternate arrangements.

While COVID-19 has forced many of us apart, residents of Ottawa's Leslie Park say the pandemic has brought them closer together.

WATCH | Mail sits in Roethel Parcel Service in Ogdensburg, N.Y., for months:

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 14,269 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 444 known active cases and 13,389 resolved cases. Public health officials have attributed 436 deaths to COVID-19.

Public health officials have reported more than 25,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including nearly 23,900 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 130 people have died of COVID-19, and 158 people have died in western Quebec.

Akwesasne has had more than 200 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had four.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.

What can I do?

Restaurants, gyms, personal care services, theatres and non-essential businesses are open across eastern Ontario. Most sports can also resume.

Social gatherings at private homes, backyards or in public parks can have up to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Organized events can be larger.

People are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only travel for essential reasons, especially between differently coloured zones.

A masked pedestrian walks down Bank Street in Ottawa on a snowy day in February.
A masked pedestrian walks down Bank Street in Ottawa on a snowy day in February.

A masked pedestrian walks down Bank Street in Ottawa on a snowy day in February.

Both Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) are orange under the province's colour-coded pandemic scale.

They have more restrictions than the rest of the region, which is in green, the lowest level. Local health units can also set their own rules.

Western Quebec residents are still being asked to stay home unless it's essential to leave and not see anyone they don't live with. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home.

On Monday, the region will move to Quebec's orange zone.

That means local gyms and restaurants will be able to reopen. Non-essential businesses, hair salons and museums are already allowed to open across the entire province.

A snowmobiler approaches a stop sign in rural southeast Ottawa in February.
A snowmobiler approaches a stop sign in rural southeast Ottawa in February.

A snowmobiler approaches a stop sign in rural southeast Ottawa in February.

Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remains in place, although as of Monday it will be pushed back to 9:30 p.m. in western Quebec.

Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged.

Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people will be allowed as of Friday, Feb. 26.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. New coronavirus variants can be more contagious.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the months to come like staying home while symptomatic — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with, even with a mask on.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec.

OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec.

People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and as of Monday, will have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands.

Symptoms and vaccines

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

Canada's COVID-19 vaccine supply has stabilized.

About 63,500 doses have been given out since mid-December, including about 41,700 doses in Ottawa and 10,600 in western Quebec.

Ontario's first doses are going to care home residents.

Ottawa has given a second dose to most long-term care residents, is giving second doses to some health-care workers and has given a first dose to high-risk retirement home residents.

The city is now vaccinating older Indigenous people.

The province's campaign is expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March, with vaccines widely available in August.

Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August's Phase 3, hitting a groove of nearly 11,000 doses a day by early summer.

Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public.

Quebecers should get their second dose within 90 days.

Many of the local vaccine clinic locations that have been announced for when the time is right are in the same communities as test sites.

Where to get tested

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.

Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.

Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, while another is in Napanee.

People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or in Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic.

Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne's curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only.

Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Akwesasne has also released its vaccine plans.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

For more information