Hello. Bonjour. Kwey.
Current trends indicate that levels of COVID-19 in our community are among the highest yet since the beginning of the pandemic. More people are testing positive, the positivity rate and hospitalizations are increasing at a rapid pace, we are seeing more outbreaks and there are more close contacts per individual testing positive. The COVID-19 wastewater viral signal continues to trend upward over the past few weeks.
All of our monitoring indicators for COVID-19 mean Ottawa is once again in crisis territory.
People of Ottawa, I need you to commit to what you are going to do next to improve the situation.
Some may have gathered with a few family members over the holidays. Some might have been in crowded stores or on crowded rinks. Children may still be playing with their best friends to blow off steam after online school classes. Others might still be meeting with friends or extended family without distance.
It’s too late to change today’s numbers. It’s not about what we did last week, or yesterday. It’s what we do next that will make a difference.
The Provincial measures announced today will support us to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community by limiting the number of opportunities for COVID-19 transmission. While these measures make rules for public spaces, it’s what we do next – our everyday, individual decisions – that will lead us out of this difficult place.
It’s not what any of us wanted, but it’s what we need to bring levels of COVID-19 down. To stop outbreaks. To protect hospital capacity. To save lives.
We have seen how quickly things can change, even in the last few weeks. For example, on December 11, the seven-day average of people testing positive was 43. On January 11, yesterday, it was 137. Another staggering figure is the number of people testing positive by week. For the week of January 3, 1,008 people tested positive for COVID-19 – by far the highest number we’ve seen in one week since the beginning of the pandemic. What these numbers tell me is more people are coming into close contact with people from outside their households.
Ottawa, I know you’re exhausted. I know parents are trying to balance work life, helping their children with virtual learning and their own personal life. We have data that the stress caused by this situation is significant. We need to be compassionate and realistic about what we can achieve at this time. We are asking employers to once again be compassionate and accommodating if their staff require more flexibility in their work schedules. I know businesses are struggling. People living with mental health issues are struggling. Our isolated older adults, racialized populations, caregivers, those who are more severely impacted by COVID-19. Teachers. Health care workers. Those with a loved one in long-term care. Those who have recovered from COVID. Those who have lost someone to COVID.
We are all hurting right now.
Which is why we need to band together. Crisis is a powerful teacher. We’ve learned a great deal about our strengths as well as our limits, and if there’s one thing that stands out to me it’s that we are strong and we are resilient. We will make it through this pandemic. But only when we come together as a community to support each other. We can’t do this alone. There is help available if you are struggling. Many free mental health resources can be found on our website.
This is a collective task, one where we need to support – not blame – each other through this dark time. We have the power to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the community: limit your close contacts to those you live with plus essential supports such as childcare. Practice physical distancing, wear a mask as much as possible, wash your hands frequently and stay home except for essential reasons. These same tools and strategies will continue to bring down COVID rates in the weeks and months ahead.
So for now, Ottawa, we have a lot of work to do. We have tools that work. The goal is to get back to a place of balance, like in November and early December when we were using our tools to live with COVID, with declining or stable levels that allowed schools and more businesses to stay open. We need to maintain these behaviours as our routine for the coming months until we have clear protection from COVID-19 vaccines. I know we can do it. We’ll continue to be in this with you every step of the way.
Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch.