CORNWALL – For six days in a row, the number of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Ontario has been below 200 people per day.
In the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region, there were no new cases reported in the last six days and all hospitals in the health unit region report no COVID-19 patients. All this has the region’s top doctor feeling positive about the July 16 move to Step Three of the province’s reopening plan.
“It’s one step closer to normal,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the EOHU. “It’s a very good sign. It’s a testament. We’ve worked hard to keep the numbers down in terms of the COVID-19 cases, and we’ve ramped up vaccinations moving forward.”
During his weekly media briefing on July 12, Roumeliotis stressed the importance of getting the region to an even higher level of first and second dose vaccinations against COVID-19.
As of July 12, 76.8 per cent of residents in the EOHU have received their first dose, and 43.1 per cent their second. Roumeliotis wants those numbers even higher, especially for what happens after Step Three, a further relaxing of public health measures.
“The Ministry [of Health] has thrown around some numbers of 80 per cent first dose, 75 per cent second dose and no health unit less than 70 per cent,” he said.
Getting vaccines into arms though continues to be a challenge for certain age groups. Roumeliotis said there is “a bit of a lag” with vaccinations in people between 12 and 29 years old.
“We have some work to do for the elderly to get their second doses but that’s increasing,” he said. “We have appointments all the way through July, we have clinics available, so please, please I know it’s summer and it’s vacation time for a lot of you but it just takes a few minutes. The clinics are very efficient. You can go in and out. The quicker we get to the higher number, the better it will be for all of us.”
Roumeliotis confirmed that the EOHU is planning more walk-in clinics in rural areas of the health unit region where access to transportation is a factor.
“Yes we are. We are trying to identify the areas now,” he said adding that the EOHU has already run some of these types of clinics in the Hawkesbury area.
“If we identify more areas, we’ll do some more pop-up clinics as well,” Roumeliotis explained.
The EOHU has been working with the City of Cornwall to provide transportation to clinics in that city, and the health unit is working with other municipalities about providing transportation to clinics for people who do not have transportation.
The doctor stressed how important it is for the region to get vaccinated, and people with appointments that are scheduled into August or September should rebook to earlier appointments rather than wait.
“We’ve got thousands of available spots right now so there shouldn’t be an issue with that,” Roumeliotis said. “I would recommend the quicker they can get it done, the better. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for them to get their second dose, or if they are lagging, their first dose.”
Locally, for the first time since September 2020, there are no active COVID-19 cases in Cornwall and SDG Counties, including South Dundas. There are four active cases in Prescott-Russell, all near Ottawa. None of the cases are of any of the COVID-19 variants.
Over 220,000 vaccine doses have been given (first and second dose combined) at clinics in the EOHU region, 66 per cent of those in a health unit-run site.
To book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ or call 1-833-943-3900.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader