CORNWALL – COVID-19 infection numbers are continuing to slowly decline in the region as provincial lock-down and Stay-at-Home measures remain in place. Since Monday, the active case count has decreased by nearly 100 people.
The province announced Wednesday that students in seven health units, including neighbouring Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit will return to in-person learning on January 25th. Students in this region will continue to learn remotely for now.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, said Thursday that keeping students in the region learning remotely for now was the right call.
"I think it was the right call, looking at the numbers," he said adding that he thought schools could reopen soon. "Despite the fact that [the numbers] are going downwards, we're still pretty high in the Red Zone."
According to the province's COVID-19 colour-coded restriction framework, the Red-Control zone is defined as a rolling seven-day average of 40 or more new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
Roumeliotis said he was encouraged the region is going in the right direction.
The seven-day average for new cases peaked on January 9th with 152.2 per 100,000 people. As of January 21st, the average was 84.1 per 100,000 people.
Roumeliotis said the determining factor in schools returning to in-person learning was that the region had to be clearly in the Orange-Restrict zone, or below 40 cases per 100,000 people.
"If the trends continue, we can be there by the time [the province] re-evaluates," he said.
The provincial Stay-at-Home order is in place until February 11th.
As of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit's January 21st update, there are 544 active COVID-19 infections in the region.
Locally, South Dundas has four active cases, and 24 cases overall. North Dundas has 12 active cases, 51 cases overall.
The City of Cornwall continues to have a highest number of active cases with 226 people infected. The city's tally of overall cases stands at 597.
In all, there have been 2,297 COVID-19 cases in the EOHU region since the pandemic began.
Currently there are 15 facilities listed by the EOHU as having a COVID-19 related outbreak. None of those facilities are in Dundas County.
Roumeliotis said that of those 15 facilities, most have been declared as being in an outbreak due to staff contracting the virus. Only three facilities have residents who tested positive. GlenStorDun Lodge in Cornwall and a Long-Term Care Home in Lancaster are two that have residents who tested positive. At the Lancaster LTC home, at least nine people have died from COVID-19 related illness.
The region's death toll has increased to 48. More people have died in the second wave of the pandemic in the EOHU region than in the first.
There are 23 people hospitalized, six are in intensive care.
Nearly 1,600 people have been vaccinated so far in the EOHU, but due to production cuts by Pfizer, deliveries of the vaccine will stop for a week. The health unit plans on pausing its vaccination plans once its own supply has run out, and will restart once new shipments are received.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader