COVID-19 cases are on an upswing in Sarnia-Lambton, but it comes as no surprise to the region's top doctor, who anticipated a spike in cases sooner.
Dr. Sudit Ranade, medical officer of health, attributes the recent rise to the same factors that have been fuelling the spread of the virus since the pandemic began: "intentional, prolonged social contact."
"What we're seeing is, as a result of those activities — gatherings, weddings and events and things like that — that more cases are happening," he said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Tuesday.
There are 68 active cases in Lambton County, according to the most recent statistics on the Lambton Public Health website, along with two ongoing outbreaks. As recently as Friday, the active case count was nearly 100.
But, as of the latest provincial data released on Friday, Lambton's health region has the second-highest COVID-19 rate in the province at 66.2 cases per 100,000 people.
Chatham-Kent has the highest rate, at 95.7, while Windsor-Essex takes the number four slot, with a rate of 53.4.
Along with some other health units in Southwestern Ontario, Sarnia-Lambton has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the province, with 78 per cent of residents fully vaccinated.
Across the province, the highest two-dose vaccination rate is 93 per cent, though most of Ontario's 34 health units fall in the range of 80 to 85 per cent.
Ranade said he believes the difference partially comes down to culture.
"I do think that Southwestern Ontario culture leans more towards the vibe or the attitude that we see in the United States, maybe by virtue of being close to there, I'm not sure why, but I do hear a lot of that sentiment of ...'don't tell us what to do' or 'our responsibilities are ours as individuals and not as a collective.'"
Ranade is back on the job following a leave of absence he took to run for the Liberals in the September federal election.
He came in second place to Conservative incumbent Lianne Rood, receiving 21 per cent of the popular vote.