COVID wastewater hits all-time high

The amount of detectable virus in the wastewater is the highest it’s ever been averaged over a week.

Robert Hiltz
01 Apr

Good morning!

It’s April Fool’s Day, but fear not, there are no jokes here. Well, no pranks. The weather is a bit of a joke for April. 

Hope you’re staying safe out there. I still have managed to avoid COVID, despite it being in my home. I do look forward to getting off the pull-out couch, though. They are not exactly prime for sleeping on multiple days, especially when your feet hang off the end. Thankfully, everyone is doing better at Lookout headquarters. Though I really don’t recommend getting it.

That’s not what you’re here for, let’s do the news.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Friday: +3 🌡️ -5 | 🌧/❄️

Saturday: +8 🌡️ -1 | ☀️

Sunday: +5 🌡️ -2 | ☁️

Monday: +8 🌡️ -3 | ⛅️

COVID Hits Highest-Ever Average Wastewater Level

New record! The wastewater testing is at its highest-ever seven-day average, which is naturally not great news. It was also the third-highest single day ever, coming close to the record set in March and April of last year, the Ottawa Citizen reports

  • What it means: Typically, a rise in the wastewater signal is soon followed by a spike in hospitalizations.

Ottawa Public Health consulting with province: The local health authority has reached out to the province to see at what point Ontario might reinstitute health measures, the Citizen reported. Dr. Vera Etches, the city’s chief doctor, can institute health orders with her own powers, if she so chooses. But Etches said she preferred a province-wide approach.

Unlikely to help: Provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government isn’t looking to bring restrictions back. She said it “doesn’t appear necessary,” to do anything else, CTV reports. But also said the province has plenty of capacity in hospitals if a new wave of people need care. 

Last wave of COVID, elective surgeries had to be cancelled, including many cancer surgeries. As of last month, the province still had a backlog of surgeries and other procedures of more than one million people because of the cancellations. 

The head of the Ontario Science Advisory Table said the province is now in another wave, brought on by the quick dropping of pandemic measures, CP24 reported

Keep wearing a mask: Etches is also strongly advising—though not mandating—masks be worn indoors, CTV reports. OPH is also recommending anyone who hasn’t got their booster dose to book an appointment. The University of Ottawa and Carleton announced they are ending mask and vaccine mandates May 1, the Citizen reports

You can get more information about where and how to get a booster here.

Rapid tests: The free rapid-test program, set to end at the end of the month, is extended until the end of July. Tests are available at select pharmacies and grocery stores. You can find the nearest one to you here.

Ottawa By The Numbers

  • 9.8%: The office vacancy rate in the city last quarter, up slightly from 9.7 percent the previous quarter. Despite the stable vacancy rate, rents have increased an average of $0.19 per square foot, to $16.85. [OBJ]
  • $1,000: The price for an antique barber’s chair at the Victoria Barber Shop, right near Parliament Hill, which has seen some famous customers over the years, including Paul Martin and Frank Mahovlich. [CBC]

Province Unveils Watered-down Housing Plan

Bowing to pressure: Provincial legislation tabled this week to get housing prices under control is a watered-down version of what was recommended. 

Last month, a report commissioned by the Ontario government made a host of recommendations to tackle skyrocketing house prices. Many were left out, CBC reports. This included:

  • Increasing density in neighbourhoods zoned for single-family homes;
  • Limiting consultation time for housing developments;
  • Legislating timelines; those key pieces were left out of the new bill.

Mayors happy: The province’s big city mayors group said the bill was what they wanted, and were pleased to see consultation limits and timelines dropped. The provincial housing minister said the upcoming June election had nothing to do with the softening of the bill, saying instead the recommendations were just “too bold,” according to CBC.

  • Read more: The Ford Government Isn’t Taking The Housing Crisis Seriously [TVO

What’s in the bill: There are measures in the bill to streamline the approval process for new subdivisions, modular buildings, and site plans, CTV reports. To try and push through the bold measure it left out, the government will launch 10 new consultations to go further in the future, the Toronto Star reports.

Lookout Ads Get Results

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We could tell you that unlike other online ads, people won’t ignore them (it’s true because you’re reading this right now!)

But why listen to us? Here’s what Martha Tobin, owner of Declutter4Good, says about Lookout ads:

"Advertising is only as good as the quality of the clients it delivers....and the readers of the Ottawa Lookout are fabulous! As a result of our ads Declutter4Good has organized and decluttered quite a few Ottawa Lookout readers' homes."  

See how Lookout ads can grow your local business by contacting our sales team today.

Stories You Might Have Missed

Alymer teen targeted with racial abuse: A 14-year-old Black minor hockey player was repeatedly targeted with racial abuse. The league says it has limited power to address the  incidents without concrete proof, like a referee overhearing the remarks. [CBC]

Impared crashes happening daily: Impared driving charges are coming back to pre-pandemic levels. Now there is a crash involving alcohol about every 1.3 days. More than 140 charges have been laid so far this year. In March alone, Ottawa police handed out 54 impared driving charges, up from 43 March last year. [Ottawa Citizen]

Ottawa startup raises $8 million: Ottawa-based Planetary Technologies has received two rounds of seed capital totalling about $8 million to push ahead with its carbon-capture technology. Using a process that turns mining waste into an “antacid for the ocean” to accelerate the natural carbon cycle. [OBJ]

Nurse loses bat-attack grievance: A nurse at the Civic Hospital won’t be compensated for her ruined honeymoon after she was attacked by a bat at work in 2019. The nurse had to be given a rabies shot, and the bat that attacked her was never tested for rabies before it was released into the wild. The treatment for possible rabies exposure requires shots over a number of weeks, which forced the nurse to cancel her honeymoon, and pay $8,000 in fees. [Ottawa Citizen]

City Hall Update

City to end respite centres: The same week the COVID wastewater signal hits a new high, the city’s community service committee unanimously voted to decommission respite centres across Ottawa, the Ottawa Citizen reports. A pandemic measure for the unhoused, they allowed people to access social and medical services in the community. One centre will run for the rest of the year, and another for four months. The whole council will vote to finalize the plan April 13. 

OC Transpo fare increase coming: Initially delayed because of the lengthy LRT shutdown, an OC Transpo fare increase is on its way May 1, CTV reports. Monthly passes will rise $3 to $125.50 per month, and single fares will rise to $3.70. Ridership was expected to rise to 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels, but was only 35 percent. The transit service also tabled its business plan this week, outlining its priorities for 2022, including: the Stage 2 expansion; improving Para Transpo; and moving forward on the zero-emission bus program.

ByWard site up for redevelopment: The city has posted a “request for expressions of interest” for 70 Clarence St., the parking garage at the heart of the ByWard Market. The city wants to turn the garage into a “destination building,” according to its master plan for the Market. “Parking lots will be transformed into new programmable public spaces and a major greening initiative will add hundreds of new trees to the streets,” the plan says.

Community Highlights

  • The Algonquin Times has a lovely story from a Lebanese student about his experience with Lebanese food in Ottawa.
  • Here are nine spots to catch the cherry blossoms around Ottawa. [Narcity]
  • Congrats to sports anchor Dan Séguin who’s retiring after 32 years as a sports anchor with CBC Ottawa. [CBC]
  • A 100-pound dog and their owner were saved by Ottawa Fire’s top team near Manotick. [City News]
  • Get a delicious dinner for yourself and give back to the community with an Easter dinner from Shepherds of Good Hope. The meal includes maple-cured applewood smoked ham, cheesy scalloped potatoes, honey roasted vegetables, and apple crisp.
  • Kichesippi released their Spring Training Helles Bock, Whiprsnapr has an Easter Cream Ale Mik Chocolate Cream Ale (yum!) and Beyond the Pale released a Vienna Smoked Lager.

Here's your guide to the weekend:

Today's Top Photo

It’s never too late to take your first ride. Reddit user redeyzbadman took their first on the LRT this week, and captured a great shot of a train at the station.

Have a shot of life in the city? Send it our way, we’re always looking to run reader photos.

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: 863 (+197)
  • Deaths: 763 (+1)
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 9
  • Ottawans In ICU: 0
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 98% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 75% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 33% 

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Written by managing editor Robert Hiltz

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