COVID-19 has claimed the life of three more Chatham-Kent residents.
Health officials confirmed two women, both in their 80s, and a man in his 80s were the latest to lose their fight to the virus.
Since the pandemic hit two years ago, 69 people have died locally in the municipality.
According to Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, the province’s lifting of pandemic restrictions, such as gathering limits, was “a bit premature.”
“Personally, I think lifting some of the precautions, like gathering limits and physical distancing recommendations was a bit premature. But on the other hand, in most of Ontario… there are definite signs that the wave has peaked,” he said.
As of April 23, Ontario reported 1,684 people are in the hospital, and 212 people are currently in the ICU.
Colby said it’s important to remain cautious.
“We have to keep an eye on the situation and be flexible in terms of our response,” Colby added. “But right now, things seem to be OK.”
He added the wastewater data is not trending in the direction he would like to see.
“It’s not what I would like to see as far as Chatham-Kent is concerned,” said Colby. “We are one of the only jurisdictions where the wastewater signals continue to increase rather than decrease. In most provinces, including the southwestern region, the wastewater signal is decreasing.”
As preventive measures, Colby said Chatham-Kent Public Health keeps a close eye on the situation locally – especially at the local hospital.
The number of patients with COVID-19 at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is currently declining, but 61 staff members are off work due to the virus as of April 21. There are also 16 who are working from home or isolated at work.
According to CKHA President and CEO Lori Marshall, there are 18 patients in the hospital with COVID-19, six of whom are being treated primarily for the virus. Four of the COVID-positive patients are currently being treated in critical care beds in the Progressive Care Unit.
“I remain pleased with what we’ve seen in the last few days in terms of a downward trend with respect to hospital patients,” said Marshall.
She highlighted that while she is pleased with the downward trend, the number of staff that are impacted really adds a level of complexity and difficulty for operating all services.
While staffing levels have not impacted surgeries at CKHA, Marshall said the hospital is consistently reassessing where to deploy staff to ensure they meet each department’s quality of care expectations.
“I would say it is a daily occurrence right now, with respect to identifying which units or departments might be short-staffed and how we can share staff throughout the building,” said Marshall.
Chatham-Kent reported its 69th death related to COVID-19 on April 22. Colby said the death toll could increase before conditions improve.
“The death indicator is one of the most lagging of the indicators, and it could get worse before it gets better,” said Colby.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News