COVID-19 is on the decline in Haldimand-Norfolk, but the virus is not yet done upending lives.
The local health unit announced a new COVID-related death on Monday, the fourth in recent weeks and the 46th fatality conclusively linked to the virus since the pandemic began.
The latest victims include Fausto Ramirez Plazas of Mexico, a migrant farm worker at Procyk Farm in Wilsonville, who died May 20 after he and two bunkmates tested positive during their mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival to Canada.
According to migrant worker advocate Rev. Peter Ciallella of Burford — who held a virtual memorial service for Plazas at the farm — Plazas is survived by his wife of 30 years, Ana María, their two children and two grandchildren.
The health unit did not provide any information about the recent deaths, citing privacy concerns.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, health officials said COVID-19 continues to pose a serious threat, even as active cases fall and the vaccination rate rises.
“We certainly want to be vigilant,” said epidemiologist Dr. Kate Bishop-Williams, stressing the ongoing need to follow public health guidelines to prevent transmission of the virus and keep patients out of the hospital.
“We’re still working at a surge capacity, given the importance of maintaining the progress we’ve made,” she said. “It’s important that we don’t make rash decisions.”
Amid the grim news, there are signs the two counties are turning the tide against COVID-19.
Active cases were down to 45 on Monday, continuing what Bishop-Williams called “a slow but steady decline” in the rolling average, which currently sits at 5.5 new cases per day.
And vaccination task force lead Sarah Page said 57 per cent of adults in Haldimand-Norfolk have received at least one dose of vaccine, with extended clinic hours planned as supply increases.
Nearly all residents in retirement home and long-term-care facilities — 97 per cent, according to Page — have been fully vaccinated.
“That’s something to celebrate,” Page said.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator