Code Red for COVID-19: Ottawa's top doctor warns COVID status 'close' to most severe level
OTTAWA -- As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Ottawa, the medical officer of health is on the verge of moving Ottawa's COVID-19 overall status to the most severe warning level during the pandemic.
"We are close to 'Red,'" said Dr. Vera Etches when asked during Wednesday's Council meeting about the current COVID-19 status in Ottawa.
The medical officer of health also warned that Ottawa could introduce a "targeted approach" to new restrictions and closures if the COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
The Ottawa Public Health coloured coded system indicates the status of COVID-19 in Ottawa by "Green," "Yellow," "Orange" and "Red." Ottawa is currently in the "Orange" status for COVID-19, one step below the most severe level of the COVID-19 status.
The "Orange" status signals decreasing spread and few outbreaks, some hospital capacity and some health care worker infections. A "Red" status means "increasing spread and outbreaks. Limited hospital capacity and many health care worker infections. Limited or no ability to isolate cases/quarantine"
"We've spoken about whether we're 'Red' now. Why I have not moved us into red as a global assessment is because our hospitalizations have stayed stable. This is good news, right?" said Dr. Etches.
"So the people who are testing positive are younger on the whole, so we're not seeing the more serious complications that lead to hospitalizations."
Ottawa Public Health reported 65 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the second highest one-day total of COVID-19 cases in September. On Tuesday, a record 93 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ottawa.
Councillor Diane Deans asked Dr. Etches if it's possible for Ottawa to avoid the Code "Red" status.
"I have a lot of confidence that the people of Ottawa can do this. We can turn the curve because we have done it before."
"I don't want to have to shut things down": Dr. Etches
During Wednesday's Council meeting, Councillor Mathieu Fleury asked Dr. Etches about the possibility of new closures and restrictions due to the rising number of cases. Dr. Etches said Ottawa Public Health would take a "targeted approach" to addressing possible sources of COVID-19.
"We will risk going into having to do more closures if we don't turn the curve," said Dr. Etches.
"I'm not interested in creating more economic damage. That harms our health as a population; we need to keep places open that are employing people. We'll need to take a targeted approach if there is a type of business that's causing more challenges."
The medical officer of health said Ottawa Public Health is speaking with officials in cities seeing a large spike in new cases, including Toronto and Peel, about possible steps to limit the spread of COVID-19.
"We're all interested in a targeted approach to tackle where infections are spreading. For the most part, it's really the social gatherings, in people's homes."
Last Thursday, Ontario announced new limits on social gatherings across the province. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, while outdoor events can have 25 people.
"We need to then make sure that we're adhering to the new provincial regulations of no more than 10 in a gathering, but really as few as possible. So your household and the people who are important to support you in your life. Whether they're your grandparents or child care," said Dr. Etches.
"I don't want to have to shut things down."