Hunting for vaccines, checkpoints at the bridges and a gift from P.K. Subban: Top 5 stories in Ottawa this week

A post from Twitter account Vaccine Hunters Canada that shared details of a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic at a Loblaws pharmacy in Ottawa is seen on a mobile phone as people line up outside the store, some waiting hours before the store's opening time, on Monday, April 26, 2021. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Long lines form outside pharmacies as people hunt for vaccines, Ottawa police turn Ontario-bound drivers away, and one of the biggest names in the NHL gives a special gift to health-care workers in Ottawa. looks at the five most viewed stories on our website this week.

P.K. Subban surprises Ottawa hospital workers with free lunch

Frontline hospital staff in Ottawa received a generous surprise from an NHL star on Friday.

P.K. Subban, the former Montreal Canadiens defenceman now with the New Jersey Devils, sent lunch over to the ICU staff at the Ottawa Hospital Civic campus through his charitable foundation.

"I just want to thank the medical heroes at Ottawa’s Civic Hospital, specifically the team in the ICU, for all the hard work that you guys have done helping patients, especially the patients that can’t see their family,” Subban said in a video.

“Thank you so much for everything that you guys have done and continue to do.”

The food from La Bottega Nicastro in the ByWard Market arrived at the Civic late Friday morning.

Ottawa opens 80,000 more COVID-19 vaccination appointments for eligible residents

The city of Ottawa is preparing to ramp-up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as Ontario anticipates all adults over 18 will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 by the end of May.

“We were able to confirm our new supply, so we opened up 80,000 more spots for eligible residents in all of our clinics from May 1 to 28. So we’re continuing to march along,” said Anthony Di Monte, Ottawa’s general manager of emergency and protective services.

“We’ve also designated another 15,000 doses for our high-risk communities.”

The Ontario government announced Thursday that anyone aged 55 and older will be able to book the COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial portal starting Friday. Officials anticipate moving the age threshold to book an appointment at community clinics to new age groups each week in May.

  • May 3: Residents aged 50 and over can book an appointment at community immunization clinics
  • May 10: Residents aged 40 and over can book an appointment at community immunization clinics
  • May 17: Residents aged 30 and over can book an appointment at community immunization clinics
  • May 24: Residents aged 18 and over can book an appointment at community immunization clinics

Ontario coroner investigating deaths of Ottawa COVID-19 patients at home

Ontario's chief coroner says investigations are underway into three recent deaths in Ottawa involving COVID-19 patients who died at home.

Speaking to CTV News Ottawa, Dr. Dirk Huyer said he was aware of three deaths in the city that were under investigation. He did not have specifics regarding the individuals in Ottawa who died, but said his office is also investigating 29 deaths in the south-central area of the province since the start of April.

"What we're observing is that the majority of them are younger, compared to what we had seen earlier in the pandemic," he said. "They also had family or friends living with them and their deaths seemed to occur more suddenly than the symptoms would have indicated would have been expected."

Huyer said screening for possible COVID-19 variants is still ongoing in these cases. He added that while the individuals in question had symptoms, they were not considered severe.

"There were no specific indications in the early investigation information to suggest that these are people who avoided or had not sought proper health-care," he said. "What we're really trying to understand is why did people who had symptoms … but not severe enough that would have led to hospitalization, die so quickly?"

Hundreds line up at Ottawa Loblaws for chance to receive vaccine

A long line snaked around the Loblaws at College Square in Ottawa’s west end Monday morning, as residents hoped to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the store shortly after the Twitter account Vaccine Hunters Canada said the pharmacy at Loblaws was accepting walk-ins to receive the shot between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

As of 8 a.m. Monday, the line stretched around Loblaws and extended down Baseline Road the length of the neighbouring Home Depot.

“We were up this morning getting ready, we were planning to leave at ten to 7 and at about a quarter to 7 we saw it was tweeted out on Vaccine Hunters so we said, ‘We gotta go now,” said Michael Collins. “As we drove up, every car coming down Baseline (Road) was turning in.”

There were approximately 100 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine available at the pharmacy Monday morning.

Police turn back dozens of vehicles on Ottawa-Gatineau bridges

Ottawa police turned back dozens of drivers trying to cross into Ottawa from Gatineau on Sunday for reasons officers deemed were not essential.

Seventy-four drivers were ordered to turn back to Quebec on Sunday between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday, out of 1,080 vehicles that police screened.

Police say the cross-border travellers turned away were planning to grocery shop, get take-out food and other such non-essential errands.

Nearly half of those turnarounds, 36, happened on the Champlain Bridge, police said.

Ottawa police set up border checkpoints last Monday after an Ontario government directive to monitor Ontario-Quebec crossings 24/7.

However, Ottawa mayor Jim Watson decried them as wasteful and ineffective and Chief Peter Sloly said they were straining police resources.