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Region moving to stage 2 Monday, with next stage possible in a week’s time

Planning to join the rest of the province in stage 2 of the reopening plan on Monday (July 12), Waterloo Region may move quickly to stage 3, which is being eyed for July 16.

“The plan is to move along with the province going forward,” said medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang during Friday’s weekly pandemic briefing. “The metrics that I was looking for us to start moving forward were stabilization of our situation and rising vaccination rates, and that’s what we see now.”

While this may be cause for celebration, Region of Waterloo health officials still advise caution and continue to stress the importance of vaccinations.

“We need the community’s help,” said Wang. “We need the community to not let up on the gas and get vaccinated as soon as they can, continue to be very cautious and practice in public health precautions.”

As of Friday, the region is reporting 307 active cases, with a daily increase of 47. Hospitals are still seeing the effects of the Delta variant, as five patients have been transferred to out-of-region hospitals to relieve the stress on local ICUs.

“We are seeing increased admissions of younger people and families because of the Delta variant,” said Dr. Sharon Bal, primary care physician lead for the Region of Waterloo’s vaccine rollout task force. “And in some cases because of non COVID as well.”

Coming off the success of last week’s drive-through vaccine clinic at Bingemans in Kitchener, the region is once again offering up their space to help accelerate large-scale vaccination sites. A planned 20,000 doses will be available this weekend for walk-in appointments at the Bingemans’ hockey hub mass vaccination clinic.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible to receive a first or second dose at the new location. Youth 12 to 17 will be given the Pfizer vaccine, and those 18 and older will be given Moderna. Those looking to make an appointment can do so online through the website, www.regionofwaterloo.ca.

During a weekly COVID-19 briefing, task force head Shirley Hilton noted that the hockey hub will operate a little differently than standard mass vaccination clinics.

“It’s a bit different where the person doesn’t have to walk to a variety of different stations,” said Hilton. “We’ve got a great opportunity this weekend, let’s do it.”

In the past week vaccination efforts have increased dramatically with adults in the region who have received their first dose jumping to 80 per cent from 59.

“This is remarkable progress. But we’re not at the finish line yet,” warned regional Chair Karen Redman.

The light continues to grow at the end of the tunnel, but health officials advocate that there is still a large risk the pandemic poses. Getting vaccinated and helping those around you to also receive the jab is the best way to move forward and stay forward.

“We all need to understand that we’re not out of the woods yet. Delta is still circulating, and therefore everyone needs to continue to be very diligent with their public health precautions,” warned Wang.

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