Sudbury area records 31 new COVID cases; mask mandates (mostly) about to expire

·3 min read

Public Health Sudbury and Districts reported no new COVID-19-related deaths Wednesday, even as the region saw 31 new cases.

Since its last report Monday, 27 cases across Sudbury Manitoulin have been resolved, bringing the total number of active cases to 84, a slight increase from the 80 active cases previously reported.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, 15,948 people across the Sudbury region have contracted the virus.

For the second consecutive time, the health unit has not reported any COVID-related deaths in the region. In total, 150 people with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic began. Of those, 109 deaths were a direct result of the virus.

Public Health said that as of Wednesday, 33 patients were in a Sudbury-area hospital with a confirmed case of COVID-19, a slight increase from 25 on Monday. Eight new patients were admitted with the virus. Four of those were admitted because of COVID and four were admitted for other reasons.

There have been no changes to intensive care cases in the region since Monday’s report. Two patients, both admitted to intensive care due to COVID-19, remain in an ICU.

There have also been no changes reported regarding outbreaks across the region. There are currently four outbreaks, all of which remain active: two at Health Sciences North, and two at Espanola Nursing Home.

To date, 81.9 per cent of Sudbury-Manitoulin residents have received at least two shots and are fully vaccinated. Vaccination efforts continue this week.

Meanwhile, most remaining mandatory mask rules in Ontario, including those requiring that people wear masks when riding public transit or visiting hospitals, will expire on Saturday.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday that he made the decision based on high vaccination rates and improvements in the provincial COVID-19 situation.

In a written statement, he thanked residents for following public health measures and asked for sustained vigilance against the virus by keeping up with vaccinations and staying home when sick.

"The province will continue to monitor for any significant changes, including any new variants of concern, to ensure we are adapting our response to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians," he said.

Rules requiring that people wear masks on public transit and most health-care settings will expire at 12 a.m. on Saturday. Mask requirements lifted in most other settings in March, along with essentially all other public health measures aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

However, masks will still be required in Ontario long-term care homes and retirement homes after Saturday, a decision Moore said is meant to protect the most vulnerable.

Masks are still "strongly recommended" in high-risk congregate settings like group homes and shelters, his statement said.

The province said organizations can keep their own mask policies and people should keep masking if they are high-risk for the illness, are recovering from COVID-19, have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has the illness.

Directives around mask requirements for health workers will also expire on Saturday and be replaced by Health Ministry guidance outlining when masks should be worn in hospitals and other health workplaces.

Some hospitals indicated Wednesday that they would keep masking policies in place.

Across the province, Ontario's daily COVID-19 case tally is considered an undercount after the province restricted gold-standard PCR tests in December, but as of Wednesday, there were 1,013 new virus cases reported.

The seven-day average for new infections was 794, a number that's been steadily decreasing since late April. There were 522 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday in Ontario, including 114 people in intensive care.

- with files from Canadian Press

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.

Twitter: @mia_rjensen

Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star

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