A decision on keeping schools open, more COVID-19 vaccines and record case counts: Five stories to watch in Ottawa
A 'masks required' sign in Ottawa. April 3, 2021. (Jeremie Charron / CTV News Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- Will Ottawa break any more COVID-19 case count records? Will schools in the capital reopen after April break? And what is the latest on the local vaccine rollout?
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.
Record COVID-19 case surge
Ottawa has seen record-breaking COVID-19 case counts for three days in a row. Ottawa Public Health reported 242 more people had tested positive on Friday, followed by 325 on Saturday and 370 on Sunday.
Cases are surging across Ontario, with the province reporting a record-breaking 4,456 new cases on Sunday.
While case counts are typically lower early in the week, OPH will be watching rising case counts closely.
Expanding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout
Ottawa is temporarily fully booked for vaccine appointments through the Ontario portal, but an additional shipment of vaccines is expected this week. According to Health Canada, Ontario can expect 396,630 additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, some of which will be sent to Ottawa. The Ontario portal is taking vaccine appointments for anyone 60 or older and for residents of three specific postal code areas in Ottawa (K1V, K2V, K1T) who are 50 or older.
On Sunday, the province announced 79 more pharmacies in the capital will soon be offering AstraZeneca vaccines to residents 55 and older. These pharmacies may not all be able to offer vaccines at the same time. You're encouraged to check Ontario's list of available locations before calling a pharmacy to register for a vaccine.
The city is also offering vaccines to special education teachers in Ottawa this week.
Will schools in Ottawa close?
Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, says a decision on whether or not schools in Ottawa will reopen to in-person learning after the April Break should be made by Wednesday.
On Friday, Etches said she believed schools were "ore likely than not" to close once the weeklong break comes to an end.
While Etches has been a strong proponent of keep schools open for as long as possible, she says she's concerned with rising case counts in the community, which can spread to students and staff and then spread within schools.
As of Sunday, OPH was reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in 12 elementary schools and three secondary schools in the city.
A weeklong COVID-19 testing blitz involving tens of thousands of Ottawa students and educational workers with no symptoms of COVID-19 will take place this week.
A spring break under a stay-at-home order
School students in Ontario are on their spring break this week. The break is taking place in April after the provincial government postponed the usual March Break.
Ottawa remains under a provincial stay-at-home order so many activities for the week have been cancelled.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca has a list of activities for families that takes the stay-at-home order into account.
Funeral for Prince Philip
The funeral from Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will take place Saturday, Buckingham Palace has said. Philip died Friday at the age of 99.
Plans for his funeral have been scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the palace said the funeral would remain in line with Philip's wishes.
He will be given a ceremonial royal funeral, not a state funeral, with no public processions, held entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle and limited to 30 mourners.
In Ottawa, flags have been lowered to half-mast until sunset on the day of Philip's funeral.
An online Book of Condolences is available at ottawa.ca during the period of mourning until sunset on Saturday.