Vaccines arrive, COVID-19 numbers increase

·3 min read

WINCHESTER/CORNWALL – Among the first Long-Term Care homes in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region, residents, care-givers, physicians, and staff at Dundas Manor in Winchester received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on January 16th.

In all, 312 doses of the vaccine were given at the LTC home, one of 17 in the EOHU region to be vaccinated in the first stage of the province’s vaccination program.

“It just felt like a little mosquito bite. No problem,” said Bill Wagoner, the first resident of Dundas Manor to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. “One quick needle means a life of protection.”

Registered Practical Nurse Spencer Hayward was the first staff member to receive the shot.

“I was very excited to get the vaccine today and encourage everyone to get it when able,” he said.

Cornwall and SDG paramedics administered the vaccinations at the facility.

According to Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the EOHU, there are 1,500 residents and 2,200 staff at LTC homes to be vaccinated in the first stage. As of January 18th, seven LTC homes have received vaccinations.

While the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are going into arms, infection numbers continue to rise in the region.

Between January 11th and 18th, the region added 230 new cases of the Novel Coronavirus, increasing the overall tally to 2,201 cases since the pandemic began. The active case count stands at 638 people.

More than one-third of those new cases are in Cornwall, which continues to be the epicenter of new cases. The city leads all other municipalities in the EOHU region with 268 active cases.

Neighbouring South Glengarry has 65 cases, most of which are linked to an outbreak at a LTC home in Lancaster where a majority of the residents tested positive and there have been at least two deaths.

According to the Ministry of Health, Intensive Care Unit occupancy in the EOHU is at 100 per cent, while the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit occupancy is at 18 per cent. Thirty-one people are currently hospitalized , six are in ICU. Not all hospitalized patients from the EOHU are in the region’s hospitals however. As hospital capacity across the province is reaching the limit, some patients are in other areas including at Ottawa-based hospitals.

In all, 44 people have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic, and there are 16 active outbreaks in facilities including GlenStorDun Lodge in Cornwall, Woodlawn Villa in Long Sault, and one unit at the Cornwall Community Hospital.

There are no facility outbreaks in Dundas County.

Locally in South Dundas, there are five active cases as the municipal tally has increased to 22 cases overall.

North Dundas has nine active cases, 48 cases total.

The seven-day rolling average of new infections per 100,000 people has declined again in the health unit. On January 18th, that number was 98.2, the region had peaked on January 9th at 152.2.

Even if the provincial government had not issued the Boxing Day 28 day lock-down measures, the region would be considered in the Grey-Lock-down restrictions according to the provincial COVID-19 framework.

The test positivity rate in the last week has dropped to five per cent and the reproductive rate of the virus in the EOHU has dropped to 0.98.

Roumeliotis told reporters that it was a positive sign that numbers are dropping but it was too soon to tell if the provincial Stay-at-Home order implemented on January 14th was working.

The latest numbers on the COVID-19 pandemic from the EOHU are updated weekdays except statutory holidays. The Leader now publishes a midweek update online on Fridays.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader