Rounding the pandemic curve, again

·3 min read

CORNWALL – The curve is not flat yet, but there are signs that infection rates are beginning to slow in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region.

Between April 16-19, the region added an average of 36 new COVID-19 infections per day to the overall tally, which is a slower rate than in the previous week.

“Maybe we are seeing the effect of Easter gatherings starting to lessen,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the EOHU. He said that the latest restrictions are starting to show an improvement, especially around key indicators like the rolling seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people. But variants of concern are still making up a majority of new cases.

“More than two-thirds of cases are VoCs,” Roumeliotis said.

After weeks of increases to new cases in the region, the seven-day average for the EOHU topped out at 156.7 on April 15th, and as of April 19th stood at 130.8. Data from the Ministry of Health put the reproductive rate of the virus in the EOHU region at 1.25. This means 100 people with active COVID-19 infections would infect 125 people.

New infections in densely populated areas like Cornwall have driven the numbers upwards. The region’s active case count as of April 19 was 510, a number unseen since mid-January in the height of the second wave. The new cases have pushed the regional tally of overall cases to 4,103 since the pandemic began.

A surge of cases has also pushed intensive care units and the COVID-19 ICU in Cornwall to near capacity limits. ICU levels in the region are at 86 per cent occupancy, and the COVID-19 ICU is at 40 per cent. There are 33 people hospitalized, nine of those in ICU. The regional death count has increased to 93, an increase of four people from a week ago.

Locally, South Dundas has added two new cases, increasing the active cases to four in the municipality, and 77 cases since the pandemic began. North Dundas has 13 active cases (118 total), South Stormont 36 active cases (272 total), and North Stormont 17 active cases (103 total). The City of Cornwall has about one-third of all active cases with 155.

According to statistics compiled by the health unit through contact tracing those who contracted COVID-19 since September 1, 2021, 47 per cent of all cases are from household transmission. Household transmission includes gatherings in a private setting like a house or dinner party. Seven per cent of cases are contracted from congregate living settings such as long-term care homes. LTC homes were the first vaccinated so cases among residents are far rarer than before late-December 2020.

Before the announced switch to remote-learning, cases in schools were increasing in the EOHU region and made up 24 per cent of case acquisitions. Public gatherings made up only six per cent of cases contracted, while workplace transmission accounted for five per cent. Eating at food premises like restaurants and bars accounted for only three per cent, and travel two per cent. The eight month data range includes cases contracted in both the second and current third wave of the pandemic.

Vaccinations at the six major clinics continued this past week. Roumeliotis estimated that nearly 10,000 doses were administered between April 10-16. Since COVID-19 vaccines became available in the region, 37,889 vaccination doses have been administered.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader