Politics played no role in selecting Kanata zip code as COVID hotspot, says Elliot

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Politics have not played a role in designating a Kanata area neighborhood as a provincial COVID-19 hotspot, Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday.

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“There was absolutely no political motivation whatsoever,” Elliott said in response to a question at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The area with the postcode K2V, which is in the constituency of Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton, has been the subject of questions about why it has been named as one of 113 COVID hotspots -19 in the province and one of three in Ottawa.

These hot spots will have priority access to vaccinations. Currently, anyone aged 50 and over is eligible. When vaccine supplies allow, all adults in hot spots will be eligible, according to provincial officials.

K2V had the second-lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the city, according to data released late last month by the nonprofit ICES. It also has below average and low hospitalization and death rates.

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Unlike Ottawa’s other two hot spots – both located in the south-central part of the city – K2V does not contain any high-risk communities, according to Ottawa Public Health. For weeks, Ottawa Public Health has been giving priority access to vaccines in 21 high-risk communities based on neighborhood data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. A number of these high-risk neighborhoods are in zip codes that have not been designated as provincial hot spots, but are in constituencies owned by opposition parties.

In a statement, Ottawa Public Health said it was “engaging with the province” in selecting FSAs (forward sortation areas, the first three digits of postal codes) in Ottawa.

Responding to questions, Elliott said the K2V postal code was chosen based on the evidence and recommendation of Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, as well as the province’s chief medical offer. from Dr David Williams and his scientific opinion. table.

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Elliott said this area was specifically chosen because it has so many gathering parameters. She mentioned retirement homes and long-term care homes, whose residents would already be vaccinated during phase 1 of the vaccine rollout in the province, as well as apartment buildings with senior citizens, who are also already priority for vaccines.

She also said that there were people with intellectual and physical problems living in gathering places “and we have to protect them” in the neighborhood.

Glen Gower, Stittsville city councilor, who said he was trying to find out why this postcode was on the hotspot list, questioned the description of the small area as an area full of apartment buildings with the elderly.

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“These are all single-family homes and townhouses,” he said.

Much of the postal code is commercial, including the Canadian Tire Center and the businesses that surround it.

According to Premier Doug Ford, businesses and faith-based organizations and other organizations in provincial hotspots can sponsor immunization clinics, immunize employees and community members, starting with those most at risk in Toronto and across. Peel.

This is not the first time that the political issue has been addressed in the Ontario government’s vaccination plan. When Ottawa pharmacies began administering COVID-19 vaccines, weeks after they became available in Toronto and elsewhere, the vast majority were in four Progressive-Conservative ridings in central Ottawa. Hard-hit Vanier, who is in a Liberal riding, had none of the original pharmacies and there was only one in downtown Ottawa. That changed when more pharmacies were added to the program last week.

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Plans for the hot spots featured prominently in Ontario’s latest immunization plan update released on Tuesday.

The plan says local public health units can determine that there are other sensitive areas to prioritize “and have the ability to set up mobile / pop-up clinics in those communities.”

This is something Ottawa Public Health is already doing and will continue to do despite hot spot designations, according to the City of Ottawa. But that still means the potential diversion of vaccines to residents of designated postal codes who are not considered high risk by Ottawa Public Health.

Last week, the city warned that there was not enough vaccines for all people over 50 in designated hot spots.

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People over 18 and education workers in some Toronto and Peel hot spot communities, which have the highest number of cases in the province, will now be eligible for vaccinations at special pop-up clinics , according to the provincial vaccination plan.

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Provincial officials said 40 percent of eligible Ontario residents are expected to be vaccinated by the end of the four-week stay-at-home order that began last week.

Candidates eligible for the vaccine enter the Nepean Sportsplex COVID-19 Immunization Clinic on Sunday, March 14, 2021.
Candidates eligible for the vaccine enter the Nepean Sportsplex COVID-19 Immunization Clinic on Sunday, March 14, 2021. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Ontario expects nearly 400,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine this week and next, as well as about 750,000 doses of Moderna vaccine by the end of April. Moderna had delayed previous expeditions.

Mass vaccination at municipal clinics booked through the provincial reservation system is now open to anyone aged 60 and over in Ottawa. People 55 years of age and older can receive vaccines at pharmacies listed here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations.

More than 3.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Ontario. Over 335,000 residents received both doses. On average, around 97,000 people have been vaccinated daily in recent days.

Over 218,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Ottawa.

epayne@postmedia.com

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