Mayor Jim Watson announced a state of emergency in the city Wednesday morning. The move came at a historic city council meeting, with the majority of councilors taking part from home.
This comes after Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency in the province last week.
Mayor Watson says declaring the emergency allows the city a set of tools to further support residents, especially with many now physically distancing and self-isolating. A statement from the city says this will allow flexibility when it comes to procuring things like personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers and first responders.
The declaration of emergency stresses community transmission of COVID-19 is present in the city. This means that COVID-19 is no longer just being found in returning travelers.
Council also heard from Ottawa’s top doctor, Vera Etches, who broke down what it means to flatten the curve, which has become a popular phrase. She shared a model that shows peaks, which get sharper if there are is no intervention. She explained that measures like working from home, closing schools and physically distancing will all help to flatten the curve in the graph.
She noted Ottawa Public Health is concerned about the social and economic impacts prolonged measures could have on the city but said that needs to be balanced with keeping the community healthy. She stressed it’s okay not to be okay, and says the organization is working on more resources moving forward.