Waterloo Region's COVID-19 trends moving in right direction, but remain high: Dr. Wang
KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's top doctor says COVID-19 trends in the area are starting to move in the right direction, but still remain high.
Speaking at the region's weekly COVID-19 briefing on Friday morning, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said people need to continue to following all public health measures in order to continue slowing the spread of the disease.
"Our situation can change quickly if we do not keep up with public health precautions," Dr. Wang said.
According to Dr. Wang, the region's weekly incidence rate sits at 70 cases per 100,000 people.
Last Friday, the weekly rate was 95 cases per 100,000 people.
"We do not want to emerge from the lockdown at high levels," Dr. Wang said. "This will keep us continually at-risk and under restrictions for longer."
Ontario's stay-at-home order will stay in place until at least May 20.
According to Dr. Wang, the region's rates have placed the area in the red tier or higher in the province’s previous COVID-19 lockdown framework since November 2020.
Dr. Wang said she's hopeful rates will dip into the orange tier before restrictions ease at all. However, she said she'd like to continue driving case counts down as low as they can get.
"In order to best protect our community, we need to have as low rates of transmission of COVID as possible," she said.
She added that people can't relax because rates are starting to drop.
"The higher we leave our rates when we exit the provincial lockdown, the more risk for reaccelerating right now," she said. "We need to continue our efforts."
She said if the lockdown ended today, Waterloo Region would be in the red tier.
'NOT GOING TO BE THE MOTHER'S DAY WE WANT'
For the second straight year, the pandemic will have a large impact on how people celebrate Mothers' Day.
"It's not going to be the Mother's Day we all want," said Helen Fishburn, chief executive officer of the CMHA Waterloo Wellington during the COVID-19 briefing. "Of course, we all want to go over to our mothers' (home), bring some planters, have some hugs and have a family dinner. That can't happen in our current realities."
Fishburn, who was speaking about the impact the pandemic has had on peoples' mental health, said encouraged residents to find other ways to find meaningful connections with their families, while still following public health guidelines.
"It's better than not having that connection at all," she said. "So, do what works for you, whether you drop a meal at the door, drop a planter at the door, have that phone conversation, have a Zoom meeting, play some music, watch a movie together through streaming."
"Whatever it is, there are many incredibly creative and wonderful things that we have all learned this year on how to connect."
UPDATES ON LOCAL HOSPITALIZATIONS
Dr. Wang said that while case counts are decreasing, there are still many people receiving treatment for COVID-19-related illness in local hospitals.
"Both acute cases and those who are no longer infectious, but remain in serious condition requiring ongoing hospitalization and ICU care," she said.
On Thursday, Waterloo-Wellington hospitals released their latest numbers on hospitalizations, including transfers from out-of-region hospitals.
The numbers are broken down into local hospitals as follows:
- St. Mary's General Hospital: Seven ICU patients and seven acute care patients; two ICU and three acute transfers
- Cambridge Memorial Hospital: Five ICU and seven acute patients; three ICU transfers
- Grand River Hospital: 18 ICU and 24 acute patients; eight ICU and three acute transfers
- Guelph General Hospital: Nine ICU and 17 acute patients; three ICU and two acute transfers
- Groves Memorial Community Hospital: Five acute patients; one acute transfer
VACCINE PRE-REGISTRATION OPENS TO MORE GROUPS
Dr. Wang said all COVID-19 vaccines offered to Waterloo Region residents have been determined to be safe and effective by Health Canada.
"For the vast majority of the population, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the risk of getting COVID-19," she said.
She continued to encourage people to take the first vaccine available to them.
Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton said it can take four to six weeks to receive an appointment following pre-registration, based on vaccine supply.
Hilton said a Moderna shipment is expected next week, and Pfizer supply is steady through the end of this month. She also said there will likely be an increase in Pfizer supply in June.
However, AstraZeneca supply has run out and Hilton said they don't know when more supply will be available.
RAPID TESTING FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
Businesses in the region continue to have access to rapid COVID-19 tests through the Stay Safe Rapid Screening program which came into effect last month.
Regional Chair Karen Redman said Friday that more than 1,500 businesses have used the program and administered more than 120,000 rapid tests so far.