COVID-19 Workplace/Post-Secondary Online Screening Tool
OPH has developed a new online screening tool to help employees and college/university students decide whether they should go into work or school that day. The intention is for daily completion prior to leaving the house. No personal information is requested when completing the tool, which means that participants cannot be personally identified or linked to their responses. While using this tool is voluntary, it is highly recommended by OPH. By completing the screening tool employees and students are self-assessing for symptoms that, if identified, could lead the individual to isolate and get tested instead of entering the workplace/classroom and risking transmission.
The tool is available on both our Workplaces web page and on The Link web page. OPH’s The Link web page is specifically targeted to youth and young adults in Ottawa. OPH uses The Link to communicate public health information to young adults on topics including mental and sexual health, substance use, and more. OPH plans on promoting both the screening tool and its location to young adults using social media.
In order to bend the curve, we all need to do our part by staying COVIDWise. The I in COVIDWise stands for: Isolate yourself from others when you are sick (and get tested promptly if you have COVID-like symptoms). OPH’s screening tool for employees and post-secondary students helps identify COVID-19 symptoms so that participants can isolate and reduce the risk of transmission. OPH encourages Members of Council to share the new screening tool and web pages with local businesses, encouraging them to share it with their staff, and on social media to capture the interest of post-secondary students. OPH thanks you for helping share this tool with the community.
COVID-19 Guidance for Return to Play Sports, Recreation and Fitness
OPH has developed new guidelines to support recreation facilities and sports organizers with re-opening their activities as safely as possible while COVID-19 is still in our community. Some of these guidelines include:
- Having sports organizations operating in the area complete the COVID-19 Guidance for Return to Play Sports, Recreation and Fitness Template and Checklist (more details below).
- Wherever possible, activities should be re-located to outdoor settings.
- Consideration should be given on how to appropriately include or accommodate individuals at increased risk for COVID-19 such as older adults, and persons with compromised immune systems.
- Discouraging cheering, chanting, singing and yelling at all sport, fitness and recreational events. These activities present a high risk of spreading droplets.
- Prior to arrival, any person participating in a fitness class, sport or activity – including staff, volunteers, and participants – should be directed to perform a COVID-19 Self-Assessment.
- Wearing a mask when indoors, except for when:
- receiving services that require the removal of the mask;
- actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities, and lifeguards working at indoor pools; and
- consuming food or drink; or an emergency or medical purpose.
- Maintaining physical distance of at least 2 metres including inside the lobby, change rooms, hallways, and while off the field of play (player’s bench, bleachers, etc.).
- Making hand sanitizer available at all entrances and exits.
- Adhering to gathering limits.
OPH has created a template and checklist based on the above guidelines to help service providers (e.g. community agencies, recreation facilities, sports groups, fitness centres, businesses, etc.) in preparing their facility/sports activity to reopen. Completing the template and checklist is not mandatory and does not have to be submitted to the City, however, completing it is encouraged by OPH. By completing this template, facilities and sports organizers are doing their part to put public health measures in place, keeping the health and safety of employees, clients and the community in mind.
With Thanksgiving arriving next weekend, it is important to recognize that the holidays are going to look and feel different during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents who plan on celebrating Thanksgiving should stay local, keep gatherings as small as possible, and connect with extended family and friends virtually, instead of in person.
A variety of factors can increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Although current provincial guidance allows for up to 10 people indoors, and 25 outdoors, due to the extent of COVID-19 transmission in Ottawa, OPH recommends limiting gatherings to people we live with and one or two people who support us.
OPH advises community officials not to host or encourage Halloween parties or gatherings this year. We understand that this is a disappointment to many, and we thank the members of the community for their understanding. OPH encourages different community events such as online Halloween home decorating or costume contests.
OPH is awaiting provincial guidance before proceeding with further advice related to ‘trick or treating’.
As Members of Council are aware, OPH does not manage or implement testing, but provides advice and recommendations to Ontario Health and local healthcare partners who do.
OPH has recommended to local testing partners that a coordinated communications approach should be established to provide up-to-date information such as locations of testing facilities, hours of operation, and contact information for residents who have questions or concerns.
OPH continues to ask our partners to communicate this information to OPH and the public in a timely fashion once decisions are made.
Healthy Workplace Month
Every year OPH celebrates Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month during the month of October. This year is no exception and, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating changes in working situations, it is especially relevant to discuss the importance of a healthy work environment. OPH has developed and is promoting useful resources that will be shared with our local employers. A few examples of these resources are:
- The Healthy Workplace Month Calendar highlights amazing (and free) resources and provides you with some tips to maintain good mental health.
- Protecting the Mental Health of Employees During COVID-19, is a webinar presented by Janet Carr from Workplace Safety and Prevention Services
- An OPH web page dedicated to Mental Health and COVID-19 as well as Mental Health Resources for Workplaces.
Ensuring that residents are involved in a healthy workplace is a priority and we are happy to continue supporting our excellent local businesses and entrepreneurs.
Supplemental COVID-19 Epidemiology Update
OPH’s supplemental COVID-19 epidemiology report is currently produced on a weekly basis each Wednesday, with the data being pulled from the COVID-19 Ottawa Database (The COD) as of 2 p.m. the day before posting.
We wanted to share it with you, as it provides information not otherwise presented in the daily COVID-19 dashboard. The data in these reports are a snapshot in time, reflecting the most accurate information that OPH has. As such, the numbers may differ from other sources.
The supplemental COVID-19 epidemiology reports are an overview on the status of COVID-19 in Ottawa over the previous week and contain a “Key Highlights” section outlining the number of confirmed cases in Ottawa to date, the number of cases reported in the last week, the demographics where the majority of cases are reported, hospitalization rates, and more. The rest of the report details cases in Ottawa and compares them to the week before, whether they’ve increased or decreased, and presents on the severity of cases and outbreaks including data tables.
The reports are, of course, publicly available and can therefore be shared with constituents to inform residents as to the status of the virus in our community on an on-going, weekly basis.