Keep gatherings small, follow public health measures this Thanksgiving: Dr. Wang
Waterloo Region's top doctor is encouraging residents to only gather in small groups and take health precautions for Thanksgiving this year.
"We know that the activity associated with holiday weekends tends to increase the risk of transmission through close contact," Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said at the region's weekly COVID-19 briefing on Friday.
She suggested using a layered approach to limiting COVID-19 spread, including vaccinations, masks, physical distancing and gathering outdoors where possible. She also recommended keeping groups as small as possible. Currently, gatherings are capped at 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors in Ontario.
"COVID-19 still poses a serious risk if allowed to spread, particular to those who are unvaccinated," Dr. Wang said.
According to Dr. Wang, case rates in the region remains relatively stable.
She also noted an increase in first vaccine doses since the province announced its vaccine certificate program last month. Currently, nearly 90 per cent of eligible residents have received at least one dose. Officials said they expect to reach that 90 per cent goal next week.
Anyone eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is encouraged to do so as soon as possible. Additionally, officials reminded residents they can receive their second dose as soon as 28 days have passed.
RAPID ANTIGEN TESTING IN SCHOOLS
Earlier this week, Ontario announced a plan for targeted rapid antigen testing in certain schools with high-risk of COVID-19 spread.
The testing would be for unvaccinated students without symptoms. Anyone with symptoms or has been identified as a close contact should seek a PCR test from a local testing centre.
Dr. Wang said the region is working closely with the province and the school board to identify any schools and child-care settings that might need the tests.
"At this time, we do not have any schools or child-care facilities where we have concerns about an elevated risk or ongoing risk of spread," Dr. Wang said. "However, we want to be ready so that the tests are available if and when they be recommended."
SCALED BACK OKTOBERFEST
For the second year in a row, K-W Oktoberfest scaled back celebrations to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
President Tim Beckett spoke on Friday's call about the safety measures in place, including smaller gatherings and virtual events, so that people could still celebrate the festival in 2021.
"We want to make sure things are safe for everybody participating," he said.
This year's event featured micro festivals and local restaurants featured German items on their menus.
A new feature this year, the WunderWagen, has also brought the spirit of Oktoberfest to local neighbourhoods.
This year's K-W Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Parade will be virtual again, broadcasting live on CTV Kitchener on Oct. 11 at 12 p.m.
Regional Chair Karen Redman reported four enforcement actions this week, all for people failing to wear face coverings.
Each ticket was for $240.