100th COVID-19 related death in Chatham-Kent

Chatham-Kent reached a dubious milestone with its 100th COVID-19 related death since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020.

Chatham-Kent Public Health reported the 100th death of a Chatham-Kent resident occurred during the week of Feb. 5-11.

Public Health stopped revealing the age and gender of COVID-19 death victims last summer.

“One hundred is just a number, but it is important to remember that all of these people had family and friends,” Dr. David Colby, action Medical Officer of Health said.

The death was the sixth in 2023.

Five Chatham-Kent residents died of COVID-19 in 2020, 22 in 2021 and 67 in 2022.

While virtually all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, Dr. Colby said, “It is important to remember that COVID-19 infection is not benign, and deaths are still occurring. Many COVID deaths were preventable as they occurred after vaccines became available.”

Public Health reports in its statistics that 34 (21.7%) of the deaths listed COVID-19 as a contributing factor, while 21 (14.0%) had COVID-19, but the virus was not the cause of the death. The stats also indicate that 50% of the deaths came in residents age 80 and over, 25% in ages 70-79; 14% in ages 60-69: 8% in ages 50-59; 2% ages 30-39; and 1% ages 40-49.

“The death count would have been much higher if not for the amazing work of the health unit early on by preventing the early spread and getting the vast majority of our seniors vaccinated,” Dr. Colby said, as Chatham-Kent implemented several restrictions at the start of the pandemic ahead of provincial and federal direction.

Public Health also conducted intense case tracing and contact isolation, contributing to fewer cases and outbreaks than neighbouring health units.

Meanwhile, the weekly case count continues downward as Public Health reported 32 confirmed new cases for the week of Feb. 12-18.

Public Health reported 45 new cases in its Feb. 4-11 report and 65 for Jan. 29-Feb. 4 after being as high as 104 in mid-January.

Chatham-Kent’s accumulative total is up to 11,189 confirmed positive cases since the pandemic’s start in March 2020. However, the actual count is likely over 20,000 as not all positive cases have been reported since changes were made to the provincial recording system at the start of 2022.

Chatham-Kent was outbreak-free in congregate settings as of Feb. 18, as the remaining two at Oaks Retirement Village in Wallaceburg and Riverview Gardens were cleared on Feb. 16 and 17, respectively.

Public Health continues to host COVID-19 vaccine clinics at its Clinic Services at the W.I.S.H. Centre and pop-up clinics around the municipality.

Visit www.ckphu.com/covid-19-vaccination-clinics/ for dates, times and vaccine availability.

Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News