CORNWALL – COVID-19 numbers continue to decline in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region. That said, outbreaks in long-term care homes in the region continue to be a major concern for new infections and deaths.
The Woodland Villa in Long Sault saw two more COVID-19 related deaths over the weekend. This latest outbreak was reported at the facility on December 27th, 2020, five people have since died.
According to the EOHU, 31 residents and 10 staff have tested positive in this latest outbreak. Sixteen residents and six staff have since recovered.
In all, 12 facilities including Woodland Villa, have active outbreaks. Eleven are LTC or retirement homes including GlenStorDun Lodge in Cornwall. The 12th is the Janet MacDonnell Pavilion, 1600 POD at the Cornwall Community Hospital.
Outside of LTC and retirement facilities, active COVID-19 cases have reduced significantly.
Resolved cases continue to outpace new cases. Between February 5th and February 8th, the region added 13 new cases and 34 cases resolved.
As of the EOHU’s February 8th update, there are 185 active cases out of 2,594 cases since the pandemic began.
Sixty-three people have died in the region including the latest two from Woodland Villa, and one from the LTC home in Lancaster.
South Dundas has one active case, North Dundas six, and South Stormont 34.
The City of Cornwall continues to lead in active cases with 66, a significant recovery from the triple-digit infection levels a month ago.
The provincial Stay-at-Home order is extended for one week and ends at 11:59 p.m. February 16th.
Based on the current seven-day rolling average for new COVID-19 infections, the region would be in the Orange-Restrict level. The EOHU region has dropped from a high of 150.7 cases per 100,000 people on January 9th down to 35 on February 7th. Orange level restrictions are in place when a region has between 25 and 39 new infections per 100,000 over a seven-day period.
Residents of six LTC homes have received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine including Dundas Manor in Winchester.
Limited supply and a change to vaccine protocols means only residents of LTC homes will receive doses. This will change once more supply arrives, which is expected in late-February.
The EOHU plans to continue with vaccinations of residents of retirement homes next. Residents of the Chartwell Hartford retirement home in Morrisburg will receive their first doses of vaccine some time between February 15th and February 22nd.
It has been one week since students returned back to in-person learning at schools in the EOHU region. So far, there are no outbreaks in any schools, and only one student at a school in Prescott-Russell has tested positive for the virus.
Last week, Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that the province was looking at cancelling the Spring or March Break this year. Lecce said that ultimately the decision rested with the province’s Public Health Table.
Local MPP Jim McDonell said that cancelling or at least deferring the Spring Break was a “real possibility.” He added that “there are risks involved if people get together during the break, against the public health guidance for gatherings.”
EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said he supported deferring the upcoming break.
“I support deferring Spring Break,” he said in response to questions from The Leader.
While government and health officials are supportive of deferring or outright cancelling the Spring Break, unions representing education workers are not.
In a statement on social media, the Ontario School Board Council of Unions, which represents 55,000 CUPE education workers, said that it supported the status quo for Spring or March Break.
“We told the Ministry [of Education] unequivocally that March break needed to stay status quo, both for the mental health needs of all our members and students but also due to contractual obligations as set out in both our central and local collective agreements.”
The union said that if the days were outright cancelled by the government, it would move to file a dispute over a violation to its central agreement. If the province decides to cancel the break and end the school year a week early, the OSBCU would file local grievances at each school board.
The EOHU provides statistic updates weekdays, except for statutory holidays. The Leader publishes an online update to the local COVID-19 statistics and news each Friday on its website at www.morrisburgleader.ca.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader