COVID situation worsens, but province stays the course

The wastewater viral signal hit a new high for the sixth day running, but don’t expect new measures even as hospitalizations rise.

Robert Hiltz
06 Apr

Good morning!

Well, tomorrow is the big day. We’re officially launching the Lookout Insider. The first edition will be free, ending up in everyone’s inbox. But after that, you’ll need to be a member to get the weekly edition.

Ralf, myself and the rest of the Lookout team are very excited about this, so keep your eyes peeled to your inbox tomorrow for the very first Insider.

With that, let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

Can you do us a favour and forward this to your friends? It helps others discover the Lookout. Forwarded this email? Sign-up for free.

Wednesday: +14 🌡️ +5 | ⛅️

Thursday: +9 🌡️ +3 | 🌧

Friday: +7 🌡️ +1 | 🌧

Fourth Doses Coming For Ontarians 60+

New guidance: The province is going to start rolling out fourth vaccine doses to people 60 years and older, after new guidance from federal health authorities, CBC reports. The full plan for the rollout of additional boosters will be announced today. The province is also going to be expanding the deployment of anti-viral drugs that help treat COVID in patients with the virus.

  • In Ottawa, the wastewater COVID signal hit a new record high for the sixth-straight day, CTV reported. Hospitalizations have nearly doubled this week, rising to 19 from 11 just on Monday. Two people are currently in ICU.

No plans for masks: Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters the province had no plans to reintroduce mandatory masking, saying the rise in cases and hospitalizations was expected as measures dropped, according to Global News. But Niagara’s chief medical officer pointed out on Twitter that hospitalizations are already well above the expected scenarios predicted by the Ontario Science Table.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s top doctor, has not spoken to the public in almost a month. “[Dr. Moore] felt that we were at the point now with the pandemic that we have the tools that we need to to learn to live with it and so that frequent representations and meetings with him aren’t necessary,” Elliott said of the chief doctor’s absence.

  • Read more: Covid Is Running Rampant. So Where Is Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Of Health? [Toronto Star]

Masks sticking around elsewhere: Both Quebec and PEI have decided to keep their mask mandates in place in the face of another COVID wave. In Quebec, the mandate will stay until April 30, CTV reports, while in PEI masks will stay mandatory indoors until April 28, according to CBC.

Ottawa By The Numbers

  • $41,000: The amount raised in a crowdfunder for the Market mainstay Rainbow Bistro, which had run into financial trouble because of the pandemic. [OBJ]
  • $1 million: The gift the owners of the Myers Automotive Group, Rob and Harry Mews, gave to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute after their father received treatment there. [OBJ]
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Housing Prices Soar Above $850k

New High: The upward trajectory of house prices in the city continues. The average price for a single-family home in the city was $853,615 in March, a 13 percent increase from the same month last year, according to the Ottawa Business Journal. The average price for a condo in the city was up a (relatively) modest 10 percent, rising to $479,405.

  • Look ahead: To get a proper sense of what the buying season will be like, the president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board this month will be the real tell-tale. “April’s numbers will be a better indication of just how the spring market will perform,” Penny Torontow said.

Fewer homes sold: Along with the price increase, came a slight dip in the number of sales compared to March last year. In 2022, the number of sales was down 12 percent from 2021. Torontow said that was likely due to unseasonably warm temperatures last year, leading sellers to put their houses on the market earlier than usual, according to CTV.

Holding off: More than ever people are putting off buying a home, as prices get further out of reach, CTV reports. Twice as many potential buyers are putting their plans on hold when compared to two years ago. Forty-three percent of people say they are delaying a home purchase because of high prices, compared to only 20 percent in 2020, a Scotiabank survey said. That number rises to 56 percent among people aged 18 to 34.

Ottawa’s Best Italian Sandwiches

Di Rienzo’s, 111 Beech St: This Italian Deli on a residential side street off Preston is surely the Granddaddy of Italian sandwich shops in Ottawa and it has always made its presence known on Ottawa's “Best of” lists. Almost everyone knows and loves it, so 'nuff said. And after all this time, they still offer some of the best prices.

The full story on Italian sandwiches will be sent out tomorrow as part of our Lookout Insider newsletter that goes to paying members. If you want access to the best restaurant reviews, events around town and top restaurant dishes to try, (and much more) become a member today.

A New Senators Arena At LeBreton Flats?

Trying again, maybe: A big announcement is coming from the NCC on Thursday, and Ottawa Citizen columnist Kelly Egan strongly suspects an arena at LeBreton Flats may be coming…again. Thursday’s meeting would be only the first step in the process. The Senators are expected to express interest in the project, Egan says.

Multiple possible buyers: There are also at least four groups vying to buy the team, all of whom would also be interested in a new area deal, according to TSN’s Shawn Simpson. One of those groups has former Sens captain and local hero Daniel Alfredsson involved, Simpson tweeted.

Easier this time around: Last time an arena was proposed for the site, it required a complex arrangement of condo buildings and other properties to be developed as one project over 50 acres. When Eugene Melnyk and his business partner fell out over the complex arrangement, the arena deal collapsed along with their partnership. This time, Egan argues things could work out better as the scope of the project has been simplified by the NCC, with different parts of the LeBreton lands parcelled out to different projects. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • An outstanding lawsuit between the late owner Eugene Melnyk and Trinity Group over their failed LeBreton bid would need to be resolved before anyone bought the team, Simpson tweeted. That case won’t be heard until September.

Stories You Might Have Missed

Teacher, husband face sex-assault charges: A former teacher at the Kanata Montessori school and her husband are facing charges of sexual assault and exploitation. Andreea and Harry Andrei were released on bail. Andreea Andrei was fired from the school after two former students came forward with allegations of abuse. The charges stem from abuse that allegedly took place from 2017 to 2021. Police are concerned they may be other incidents that happened earlier than 2017 when Andrei taught in Toronto. [CTV]

Convoy trucks sent to Queen Elizabeth by police: Police directed dozens of trucks to park on Queen Elizabeth where they were let to have parties and idle their trucks all night during the convoy. Police and the city then refused to answer questions sent to them by a reporter, despite having answers for how and why the protesters were allowed to park there. [PressProgress]

Horse injury too minor for investigation: The injuries sustained by a woman knocked over by a police horse as the convoy encampment was cleared out are too minor to warrant a full investigation. The Special Investigations Unit which looks at police conduct found the woman only had a strained shoulder after reviewing her medical records. [CBC]

More Phoenix relief needed: PSAC, the biggest public-sector union, is asking the federal government to put aside extra funds to hire more people to deal with outstanding Phoenix pay system issues. The disastrous federal public service pay system has led to people not receiving their full pay for months and sometimes years, the union says. Outstanding cases date back to 2016 when the system came online. [Ottawa Citizen]

Community Highlights

  • Backstreet’s back… in Ottawa. The Backstreet Boys will perform at the Canadian Tire Centre on Sept. 1st. [City News]
  • Looking for a mid-week taco binge? Si Senor has got you covered with their Suadero crispy brisket taco. 
  • Coun. Shawn Menard is posting every day on Twitter which streets are being swept in his ward.
  • The Redblacks announced their new defensive backs coach Patrick Bourgon, who has been with the team since 2014. [City News]
  • Maple syrup production is going great as producers welcome back visitors to their farms (stay tuned for a story in our Insider newsletter on Thursday about the sugar shacks to visit). [CBC]
  • Reddit users shared some beginner classes and workshops around town, including pottery, weaving and sewing.
  • CityNews shared a look back at Elvis Presley’s sold-out Ottawa shows in 1957.
  • Our food editor Ralf raved about Dao, a Euro-Asian bakery that offers unique coffee and delectable pastries.

Today's Top Photo

We love a good bird photo here at the Lookout, and Reddit user Salty_Flamingo_2303 provided. Bird season is very much upon us once more.

Have you seen wildlife returning this spring? We’d love to see it! Send along your spring photos and we’ll feature them in a future issue.

Daily COVID Stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health. You can find the status of the wastewater tracking here. And you can find vaccination stats here.

  • Active Cases: 1,149 (+79)
  • Deaths: 765 (+0)
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 19
  • Ottawans In ICU: 2
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 100% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 70% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 28% 

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Written by managing editor Robert Hiltz and food and wine editor Ralf Joneikies

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