Health Experts Say the COVID-19 Outbreak Has Likely Peaked in Ontario

News Release

April 20, 2020

Modelling shows physical distancing still needed to prevent further spread

TORONTO — The Ontario government today released updated COVID-19 modelling, which shows that the enhanced public health measures, including staying home and physically distancing from each other, are working to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. However, the Chief Medical Officer of Health says emergency measures must remain in place to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths.

“The modelling clearly demonstrates that we are making progress in our fight against this deadly virus. That’s due to the actions of all Ontarians, those who are staying home and practising physical distancing, and to the heroic efforts of our frontline health care workers,” said Premier Doug Ford. “But COVID-19 continues to be a clear and present danger, especially to our seniors and most vulnerable citizens. That is why we must continue to follow the advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and stay the course in order to keep people safe and healthy.”

Key highlights from the modelling update include:

  • The wave of new community spread cases of COVID-19 in Ontario appears to have peaked.
  • Outbreaks in long-term care and congregate settings continue to be a major concern. Concerted actions are underway to protect vulnerable people in these settings.
  • Ontario is now trending toward a best case scenario rather than a worst case scenario and has significantly improved its standing as compared to March modelling.
  • The province has avoided a significant surge in cases. Total cumulative cases are forecast to be substantially lower than worst case or even moderate case scenarios projected by previous models.
  • While several hundred new cases are identified daily in Ontario, hospitals across the province have not been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 outbreak as a result of capacity planning and the public health measures currently in place. The rate of growth day-over-day is declining.
  • To further reduce the number of cases and deaths, it remains critical that Ontarians continue to adhere to public health measures, including staying home and practicing physical distancing if they must go out for essential reasons only.

“The information released today shows early but unmistakable signs that our efforts are working,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “These numbers are not an accident. They are the re sult of months of planning and collective action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. However, in order for these projections to become reality, each of us must continue to stay home as much possible and practise physical distancing.”

To enhance protections for residents and staff in long-term care homes, last week Ontario launched the COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes. This action plan will ensure the implementation of critical new measures to prevent further outbreaks and deaths from COVID-19 in long-term care homes. These measures include enhancing and expanding testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases; providing public health and infection control expertise; and redeploying staff from hospitals and home and community care to support the long-term care home workforce.

“The new province-wide modelling data are encouraging, but we know that long-term care homes and other congregate settings will track on a different path,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “We will continue to take aggressive action to support our most vulnerable residents and their caregivers.”

QUICK FACTS

  • All Ontarians need to stay home unless absolutely necessary for essential trips, such as accessing health care services, groceries, picking up prescriptions or supporting vulnerable community members with meeting essential needs. If you must leave your home, go alone and stay at least two metres apart from others.
  • Ontario has made improvements to its COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool by expanding its symptom list, addressing the most high risk individuals, and making it more accessible and responsive.
  • Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and protect your health: wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; sneeze and cough into your sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoid contact with people who are sick; stay home if you are sick.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Embrace winter with free outdoor adventure kits from Foley Mountain


WESTPORT, March 1, 2021 – Get out and enjoy everything winter has to offer with a free outdoor adventure kit from Foley Mountain Conservation Area.

Beginning March 2, families can pick up one of 100 kits from any open Rideau Lakes or Westport library branch.

The kits include materials to identify animal tracks in the snow, explore the wonderful world of snowflakes, do an experiment with a jello mouse, create a backyard birdfeeder, make snow ice cream and more.

“This is just another way we’re keeping connected with local families and promoting outdoor education,” said site supervisor Rebecca Whitman. “We hope people will be inspired to get outside more and enjoy all the fun winter has to offer.”

 The kits were made possible through generous donations from Friends of Foley Mountain and the Township of Rideau Lakes, support from Kudrinko’s grocery store in Westport and distribution services from the libraries.

“This is the first time we’re doing this and we’re thrilled to have so many partners involved to keep families engaged while they’re at home,” Whitman said.
The kits can be adapted for all ages; parents can modify the activities as needed to engage both younger and older kids.

While signs of spring are starting to appear, there could still be another six weeks of winter – and this is the time when families start to feel the fatigue of the coldest months.

“I’m hoping these kits will help families pull through the last stretch of winter and keep the wonder of nature and the great outdoors at their fingertips,” Whitman said.

Questions about the kits can be sent to rebecca.whitman@rvca.ca. More “Fresh Air Fun” activities can be found at www.rvca.ca and on our YouTube channel
 
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Leeds, Grenville and Lanark HEALTH UNIT COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

I spoke to the Health Unit last week and requested that Westport be selected for a vaccination site. I was informed that a mobile site will be set up at the Community Centre (arena) – likely in July.

The availability of vaccines remains a challenge for the federal government. We are all watching the reports and waiting for some positive signs that large amounts of vaccine are arriving in Canada.

The Ministry of Health has set a 3 phase strategy and within each phase has identified priority populations. The Health Unit has taken these phases and groups and developed a six stage roll out plan for our area.

Stage 1: Long-Term Care Homes/High risk Retirement Homes Staff, Residents and Designated Essential Care Givers

Stage 2: Highest priority and very high priority Health Care Workers (HCW) and Adults (80+)

Stage 3: High priority Health Care Workers, residents and staff of congregate living facilities (such as group homes, shelters, low risk retirement homes), all Indigenous adults, adult recipients of homecare

Stage 4: Moderate priority Health Care Workers, Essential Workers (first responders, teachers, food industry, etc)

Stage 5: High Risk population (to be defined by Ministry of Health) and beginning of age cohorting (ages 60+ to start)

Stage 6: All others in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark that are 16 + and would like the vaccine

Here is the Health Units’ tentative schedule. If shipments from the manufacturer are delayed, timelines will be pushed back.

  • Stage 1:
    • January – February: First dose*
    • February – March: Second dose*
  • Stage 2:
    • February – March: First dose*
    • March – April: Second dose*
  • Stage 3:
    • March – May: First dose*
    • April – June: Second dose*
  • Stage 4:
    • March – June: First dose*
    • April – July: Second dose*
  • Stage 5:
    • March – August: First dose*
    • April – September: Second dose*
  • Stage 6:
    • July – onward: First dose*
    • August – onward: Second dose*

Individuals who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in each stage will be notified by public health. For the first 4 stages (Long-Term Care Homes, High Risk Retirement Homes, Health Care workers, residents and staff of congregate living facilities, and essential workers) this notification will happen through the facility or workplace. For those 80+ in stage 2, and those in stage 5 and 6 (high risk population, and age cohorts), the Health Unit will be communicating widely on social media sites, its website, through local radio and newspaper, as well as through their healthcare and community partners. The Health Unit will continue to update the public about its progress, including which stage they are in and which priority population is receiving vaccine and which priority population is next to receive vaccine.

All vaccinations will require an appointment and I was assured that there will be lots of “help desks” available to provide support in making these appointments.

Here is the Health Unit’s web site. Please watch it for updates.

SAVE THE DATE – WEDNESDAY 24 FEBRUARY @ 7:00 P.M.

This is the 3rd workshop of our three part series on combatting discrimination and harassment and it will be live streamed on the Village of Westport YouTube channel on Wednesday, February 24 @ 7:00 p.m.

The speaker, Tanis Brown, is the lead on Health Equity for the Leeds, Grenville, Lanark District Health Unit. Tanis will introduce the principles and concepts of health equity, explore health inequities in Westport and provide suggestions on how to be a health equity ally and where to identify resources.

Committed to community. Dedicated to progress.