It’s a whole new ballgame in Chatham-Kent.
According to CK Public Health, two new cases of COVID-19 were reported on July 15 along keeping the number of active cases at nine. However, Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical officer of Health, said four of the active cases were confirmed as the Delta variant.
As of July 16, the province will allow indoor dining, while gyms and other indoor attractions such as casinos will reopen.
While Colby agrees with the province moving into Step 3 of the reopening plan, he says he still has a concern with the Delta variant’s arrival.
“The numbers would indicate that we are ready for Step 3, but it’s my job to worry about things that can happen. I’m very concerned about the Delta and its potential for explosive expansion of numbers,” said Colby. “The best way to insulate ourselves from that is to get vaccinated.
Colby said the Delta variant is 67 percent more contagious than what we have been dealing with in previous variants. He added it is important people understand that even though restaurants are opening up, we can’t have lineups and crowds of people gathered together.
The region’s top doctor also highlighted the fact that while restrictions are coming off, it is based on the presumption that vaccination rates will continue.
“We must not look back on that and continue moving to get as many people vaccinated as possible, or else our progress will be jeopardized.”
In Chatham-Kent, 75 percent of adults 18+ have received one dose while 55 percent have received two.
Dr. Colby said the vaccination rates show that we are ready for the next step in reopening, but to curb the Delta variant from spreading, more people need to get vaccinated.
He added there is still a focus on getting more young people vaccinated.
“For our youth aged 12 to 17, 48 percent have had one dose, 9 percent have had two doses,” said Colby. “We’re a little concerned about that one, I don’t want to be negative, but that’s almost 15 points behind the provincial average, so we have some catching up to do.”
The province is scheduled to remain in Stage 3 for at least 21 days and until 80 percent of people 12 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 75 percent have received their second dose. Every public health unit must have at least 70 percent of residents 12 and older fully vaccinated.
Once these thresholds are met, then most public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted.
Colby said that judging by vaccination rates in Chatham-Kent, there are still many unprotected people, adding CK is still vulnerable to Delta coming and creating tremendous mayhem.
“I know I sound like a broken record just harping on this over and over again, but the vaccine is very protective against all of the variants that have been described so far. Not only will it protect the recipient, but it stops the (virus) from moving through the vaccinated person and having them infect others,” said Colby. “This is not the time to sit back and relax. It’s a time to roll up your sleeves and get vaccinated.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News