Etches did not recommend the Kanata area zip code for the “hot spot” list

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The Ottawa medical officer of health admitted on Wednesday that she had not recommended that the province include the Kanata K2V area postal code in its list of COVID-19 hot spots.

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Inclusion of the K2V forward sortation area (the first three letters of a postal code) in the province’s 114 hotspot list has been controversial as there are other areas in the city and province. with much higher rates of COVID-19 that were not on the list. In fact, when it comes to COVID-19 positivity rates, K2V is among the lowest in the city. It’s in Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton’s riding.

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said this week she will review the provincial government’s selection of postal codes of hot spots to prioritize for COVID-19 vaccines.

Previously, Health Minister Christine Elliott had suggested that K2V be designated as a hotspot based, in part, on Etches’ recommendation. Etches’ confession on Wednesday contradicts this.

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And, while Etches has said it supports the principle of prioritizing vaccinations in high-risk neighborhoods, Ottawa Public Health’s own program suggests that K2V, which straddles Kanata and Stittsville, does not meet that definition.

Since the beginning of March, Ottawa Public Health has been prioritizing vaccinations in 21 high-risk neighborhoods in the city. Several of these are included in the other two designated provincial hot spots in Ottawa. Others are in postal codes that are not on the province’s hot spot lists. But Ottawa Public Health has not identified any high-risk neighborhoods within the K2V postal code.

When asked by a reporter if she had recommended K2V to the province, Etches replied: “Probably not specifically, but in terms of approach in general, it’s something we support.”

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The Ontario Science Advisory Table also did not recommend this or other hotspot postal codes to the province. The advisory table released a document that illustrated the need to target high-risk neighborhoods with vaccines and included a ranking of highest and lowest risk areas.

According to the Toronto Star, K2V was among eight low-risk postal codes, most in PC ridings, included on the province’s final list of COVID-19 hotspots. Others with higher risk scores were left out.

Provincial officials denounced suggestions that the selections were politically motivated.

Even city councilors in the Kanata South and Stittsville areas are wondering why the small K2V forward sorting station, which includes the Canadian Tire Center, a Costco store, and other retail businesses in addition to some single family homes and homes in a row, the list of hot spots is running.

Although Ottawa Public Health has said it will continue to focus on the 21 neighborhoods it has identified, listing it provincially gives residents of those zip codes better access to vaccines.

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epayne@postmedia.com

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