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COVID-19 numbers improve in region, but lockdown remains in effect until at least June 2

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Waterloo Region’s COVID-19 numbers are headed in the right direction, but will need to improve before reopening can occur, mirroring the provincial trends that prompted the Ford government to extend the stay-at-home order for another two weeks.

“Yesterday, we heard from the premier that the stay-at-home order and all health and workplace safety measures will remain in effect until at least June 2. I am supportive of this extension,” medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said at Friday’s weekly pandemic briefing.

“I recognize that it has been very difficult here for many, and that some were hoping for loosened restrictions earlier. We are seeing slow improvements to our indicators, [but] these gains can be quickly reversed if we move too fast to reopen. A cautious approach to reopening gives us the best chance to avoid another shutdown. Stay home, reduce your mobility and limit your close contacts – a brighter future is ahead of us.”

As of Friday, there were 473 active cases of COVID-19 in the region, with outbreaks being monitored at 16 locations. The weekly incidence rate is 75 cases per 100,000 population, compared to a provincial average that is now down to 115 per 100,000 per week. 

“Overall, our indicators are slowly moving in the right direction, but we have seen some stagnation with our overall case rates,” said Wang.

Looking at hospitalizations, she warns that numbers remain too high.

“We continue to have a high number of COVID-19 cases in our local hospitals, both acute cases and those who are no longer infectious but remain in serious condition requiring ongoing hospitalization or ICU care. Our situation remains precarious. It’s imperative that we keep up with public health measures and continue to follow the requirements of the stay at home or to further quarters.”

At week’s end, there were 37 people hospitalized in the region due to COVID-19.

As part of National Nurses Week, the region invited three nurses to speak during the weekly update. The panel included Coty Snider, Marie Belanger and Teri Sousa, who shared their individual experiences of the pandemic

“As COVID-19 came into our lives and changed everything, we’ve continued to do that work. So, infection prevention and control and management work is not new to public health. However, the scale in which we responded, definitely changed,” said Snider.

“Initially, I worked a lot with case and contact management, identifying cases and working with community members to ensure isolation and follow up answering questions during a very scary time. When this was a novel coronavirus and we had so little information, things were changing rapidly. Over time, I also worked a lot with the outbreak management with our long-term care and retirement homes. And after all of those experiences, I was given a really unique opportunity to help facilitate vaccine rollout when, when we were able to obtain vaccine in December. So, after everything I had seen in the community, this was the opportunity that I was waiting for, to be able to help bring some hope.”

Regional Chair Karen Redman thanked the nurses and others who have served residents through the pandemic.

“Teri, Marie and Coty, thank you very much again, you are outstanding leaders in your field and representative of the people who are out there, doing incredible work every day and certainly doing a lot of heavy lifting during this pandemic in the vaccine rollout. So, thank you all for taking time out of your schedule to be here with us.”

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