The number of COVID-19 related deaths in Chatham-Kent has reached 20.
According to Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Colby, an unvaccinated woman in her 50s is the latest to pass away from the virus.
After going more than three months without a COVID-19 death in Chatham-Kent, three residents have now died from Sept. 22 to 28. All were unvaccinated.
“I’ve been telling people that this kind of thing was going to happen, and now we’re seeing it,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health. “We have more patients in the hospital. These are vaccine-preventable illnesses.”
Colby declined to say if any of the three latest deaths are connected to an outbreak at Chatham’s Praise Fellowship Church. He said Chatham-Kent is such a small community that any demographic information of that nature would make it very easy for people to zero in on private medical information.
“At this time, I can neither confirm nor deny that, and the reason is that Chatham-Kent is such a small community that any demographic information of that nature would make it very easy for people to zero in on private medical information,” said Colby. “That’s the cost of living in a small community. If we were in Toronto, I’d probably be able to say yes to that question.”
According to Colby, the church outbreak has 24 direct cases and “about double that as spinoff cases.”
He said the Health Unit is working on a tracing map to connect all the church cases and that an epidemiological diagram should be released to the public once the outbreak is deemed over. Last November, a similar graphic from the Health Unit detailed how an outbreak at Blenheim’s Word of Life Church was linked to 40 cases, and approximately 500 people were self-isolating in Chatham-Kent.
Chatham-Kent Public Health reported 105 active cases as of Sept. 30. The number of active cases has been in triple digits for 23 consecutive days -- the longest such stretch in Chatham-Kent at any point during the pandemic.
Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is reporting eight patients in the Chatham hospital with the virus. Hospital officials said seven of those patients are residents of Chatham-Kent, and only one is fully vaccinated. Five of the patients are in Intensive Care, and three of them are on ventilators.
Staff at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance have until Oct. 31 to be fully vaccinated or lose their jobs if they don’t have a valid exemption. According to CKHA President and CEO Lori Marshall, as of Sept. 30, 87.8 percent of staff are fully vaccinated, and 7.5 percent are partially vaccinated.
“That puts us above 95 percent of staff who we would anticipate will for sure be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31,” she said.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News