Ottawa will enter Stage 3 of COVID-19 reopening plan 'hopefully' by fall: Dr. Etches
OTTAWA -- There has been no spike in COVID-19 cases in Ottawa since bar and restaurant patios, malls, barber shops and hair salons opened two weeks ago during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And Ottawa's medical officer of health is hopeful Ottawa could move into Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan by the fall.
Speaking on CTV Morning Live, Dr. Vera Etches said the COVID-19 trends are positive in Ottawa, with the number of cases and hospitalizations decreasing.
CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts asked Dr. Etches if she could estimate when Ottawa could move into Stage 3, which would include opening dine-in for restaurants, reopening remaining workplaces and services and allowing large gatherings.
"I would hope before the fall if the trends are continuing," said Dr. Etches. "It's coming up to two weeks after the opening of things and we haven't yet seen an increase."
Dr. Etches noted not everyone with COVID-19 present for testing because they have mild symptoms.
"I do want a little bit more time to look at the hospitalizations. Again, if people get serious illness they are not likely to miss that and that takes another week beyond a couple of weeks for the rise in cases to be evident," said Dr. Etches.
"Let's give it some more weeks but hopefully before the fall."
As of June 23, there were 2,065 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 262 deaths.
Ottawa entered Stage 2 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan on June 12, allowing bar and restaurant patios, salons and barber shops and malls to open.
Dr. Etches told CTV Morning Live the COVID-19 trends are positive, thanks to people practicing physical distancing, washing their hands and wearing a mask. However, the medial officer of health says just because the case numbers are dropping does not mean the battle is over.
"The virus is still here. It is out there in more people than we detect, but our actions are what's keeping it supressed and at a level that's allowing us to get back to work, get back to our activities. So that's what we need people to keep doing."
An Ottawa Public Health survey from EKOS shows only 68 per cent of residents are wearing a face mask while indoors. Dr. Etches says it's "quite likely" residents will need to continue wearing a face mask until a COVID-19 vaccine is ready.
"Wearing a mask is not the easiest thing, but it's a small price to pay to have this ability to keep going with renewing our approach to life again and getting back to work."