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COVID-19: Back-to-school details could come early next week; new cases down significantly in city and Ontario

Posted: July 24, 2020

(July 23, 2020)

By: Taylor Blewett, Ottawa Citizen

What you need to know, at a glance

  • New cases of COVID-19 were down significantly Thursday, compared to case counts early in the week.
  • Ontario reported just 103 new cases bringing the number of active cases province-wide to 1,492, while no new deaths were reported.
  • The province expects to reveal more information on the back-to-school plans as early as next week.
  • Ottawa Public Health reported 14 new cases of COVID-19.
  • There were new outbreaks at at Pinecrest-Queensway Headstart and La Clémentine Michel Dupuis child care centres, involving one staff member at each facility.
  • The Quebec government announced that the maximum number of people allowed in public places for indoor and outdoor events will increase from 50 to 250, effective Monday, Aug. 3.
  • Hospitals in the Ottawa area are beginning to allow visitors back with strict rules to limit numbers and lengths of stay.

The Ontario government will reveal more information about what the return to school in the fall will look like as early as next week.

“We’re finalizing those plans with the chief medical officer of health, and we’ll share more details about that plan, that protocol and those investments next week,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce told a Thursday press conference.

Ontario’s school boards have been tasked with preparing for three potential scenarios in the fall: A full-time return to school, a hybrid model, or remote learning. The ministry of education had been expected to issue a decision on which model boards will implement by Aug. 4.

“The premier and the government continues to be focused on a safe, conventional day-to-day return to school – maybe a new conventional – where kids can go to school five days a week,” said Lecce.

“We’re finalizing the health protocols, working very closely with the chief medical officer, some of the best pediatric minds in the nation that are informing the plan –we believe we’ll be able to unveil it next week. That will include additional supports and resource to enable our boards to succeed.”

In other news, Ottawa East is getting its own health team – a new model of health care delivery introduced by the Ontario government last December to help fill the gaps in different elements of the province’s health care system, and help patients transition more smoothly between them.

Ontario announced five new health teams Thursday that will join the existing complement of 24, including one already serving Ottawa that includes The Ottawa Hospital, community health centres, Ottawa Inner City Health and other partners.

The new Ottawa East health team will work in both official languages and also serve Eastern Champlain and a portion of Ottawa Centre.

“Over the past several months, Ontario Health Teams have demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to the COVID-19 outbreak by simplifying the purchase of personal protective equipment, supporting the staffing of long-term care homes and assessment centers, and expanding virtual care options,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott in an official statement.

According to the province, health teams bringing together various health care providers, smooth the movement of patients between providers by consolidating their records and care plan, and providing round-the-clock access to “navigation and care coordination services.”

New cases of COVID-19 in Ontario – and Ottawa – were down significantly Thursday, compared to daily case counts recorded early in the week.

Ontario reported just 103 new cases, including 14 in Ottawa, bringing the number of active cases province-wide to 1,492.

No new deaths were reported in any of the province’s health unit regions. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized across Ontario sits at 154 – up from 128 Wednesday – including 35 in ICU and 21 on ventilators.

Outbreaks and active cases of COVID-19 continue to dwindle in Ontario’s long-term care homes.

According to a new study released on Wednesday, for-profit long-term care homes in Ontario saw significantly worse outbreaks of COVID-19 and more related deaths than their non-profit or municipally run counterparts. The study, co-authored by Dr. Nathan Stall with the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto, also suggests chain-operated for-profit homes — 85 per cent of the commercial facilities — run a significantly higher risk of worse COVID outcomes.

Meanwhile, a staff survey released by the Ontario Health Coalition suggests that residents of Ontario LTC homes are going without baths, missing crucial care and waiting hours for their meals because of worsening staff shortages.


Ottawa Public Health reported two new outbreaks of COVID-19 at local child care centres on Thursday – at Pinecrest-Queensway Headstart child care and La Clémentine Michel Dupuis.

Since July 2020, a single-lab confirmed case of COVID-19 in a child care staff member, home child care provider, or child at a care centre is considered an outbreak.

Both outbreaks were reported July 20 and so far involve one staff case at each facility, according to OPH.

The Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre later confirmed that a child at its Ahearn Avenue child-care centre has also tested positive for COVID-19. It is a separate building from the main health-care centre on Richmond Road (which remains open), and will close for at least five days.

The children in the centre’s headstart program are between two and four years old. “The child-care setting with young children includes physical interaction. It’s different from classrooms for older children and the two metres you can maintain in a grocery store,” said Heather Badenoch, in a statement on behalf of the community health centre.

“PQCHC is working with OPH and following all recommendations,” said Badenoch, noting that both have contacted all families with children in the headstart program.

With 14 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Ottawa Thursday, the number of active cases sits at 193. There are nine people in hospital, and three in intensive care.

Hospitals in the Ottawa area are beginning to allow visitors back with strict rules to limit numbers and lengths of stay. In a statement released Thursday, six local hospitals said they are taking a “gradual approach” to welcoming more visitors in keeping with guidance from the province. Visitor policies may vary somewhat from location to location – further information is available on their websites.

Something good is coming out of this pandemic for Ottawa residents with city swimming memberships: your expiry date is being extended 4.5 months to cover the time that pools were shut down for. “Plus, it adds an extra two complimentary weeks to help members transition to the reopening,” said the city.


The Quebec government announced Thursday that the maximum number of people allowed in public places for indoor and outdoor events will increase from 50 to 250, effective Monday, Aug. 3.

This decision was taken “on the recommendation of public health authorities,” the government said in a news release.

Quebec’s provincial police force said Thursday it will be conducting targeted patrols at tourist sites to make sure people are respecting the current public health rules. The Sûreté du Québec announcement made specific mention of mask-wearing.

The province has recorded 142 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 58,080, the provincial government announced Thursday.

The province reported the same number of new cases yesterday.

No new deaths were recorded. The death toll remains 5,662.

There’s also good news on the hospital front.

The number of hospitalizations dropped by 14 to reach 221. Among those in hospital, 14 are in intensive care – two fewer than yesterday. -With files from Postmedia and The Canadian Press

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