'Let's keep going': Waterloo Region's top doctor warns that vaccines won't prevent a 3rd wave
KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's COVID-19 indicators are high but stable, the region's top doctor said Friday, but she urged residents to continue exercising public health measures to prevent cases from rising again.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang gave a summary of the state of the pandemic during a media briefing.
Over the past month or so, she said the region has seen between 45 and 60 cases per 100,000 people per week. On Friday, she said that the region was on the lower end of that scale with about 46 cases per 100,000 people per week.
The region's rolling seven-day positivity rate also dropped to 2.1 per cent, while the reproductive rate—or the number of new cases per active case in the population—fell to about 0.9.
While those are promising indicators, Dr. Wang noted that Waterloo Region "is not immune of rapidly accelerating case rates" that are being seen across the province.
"In fact, provincially, case rates have started to rise again," she said. Ontario has reported 1,000 or more cases every day this week, including nearly 1,400 on Friday.
"Twenty-four out of 34 public health units have seen an increase in case rates over the past two weeks, and of these, 14 public health units have seen growth of more than 30 per cent."
Fourteen public health units have seen case rates rise by 30 per cent or more.
She also said she expected to see more COVID-19 cases screen positive for variants of concern in the region.
VACCINES ARE COMING, BUT REGION COULD STILL SEE A THIRD WAVE
Officials have expanded their hours to call people who have registered for a vaccination and asked for a call back, now making phone calls 12 hours per day.
Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton, who heads the task force, said that vaccine shipments were becoming more predictable and announced that the region would be receiving Moderna doses early next week.
Vaccine supply has improved and clinics are ramping up in the region, but Dr. Wang noted that vaccines would not put a quick end to the pandemic.
"There will not be enough supply coming in the next few weeks to avert a third wave. Therefore we need to keep up with our strict public health practices for at least the next few months," she said. "We still need to exercise the utmost caution, but the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter every day.
"Let's keep going."