Waterloo Region to stay in red 'control' zone under province's COVID-19 framework
KITCHENER -- Despite worsening COVID-19 indicators and looming fears that Waterloo Region could move to a lockdown, the region will remain in the province's red "control" level for a while longer.
Earlier this week, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said that a lockdown in the region was a "real possibility." She also acknowledged during a Friday morning media briefing that a number of key indicators were worsening:
Waterloo Region has the fourth highest transmission rate in the province;
- Weekly incidence rate has climbed to its highest level to date with 90 cases per 100,000 people;
- Current positivity rate of 4.1 per cent;
- Reproductive rate fluctuating between 1.1 and 1.4 in the past few days;
- Outbreaks declared daily, often in workplaces;
- Hospitalizations continuing to increase; and
- Public health is having trouble doing contact tracing in a timely manner
But during Friday's media briefing, Dr. Wang said she was hopeful that the spread could be curbed using the current restrictions that were already in place in Waterloo Region.
"I have asked the province for more resources in order to maximize our chances of being successful under the current restrictions of the province, as well as the additional restrictions that I've brought in myself," she said.
Those additional restrictions include limiting capacity in large stores and a Section 22 order issued for local Mennonite communities.
While Dr. Wang acknowledged that the region does have increased rates, she noted that there was significant spread across certain Mennonite groups in the region. As of Friday morning, she said that there were at least 150 cases associated with those groups.
A PROVINCIAL DECISION
Though public health officials consult with the province on COVID-19 measures, the decision ultimately came down to the province.
A news release from the provincial government showed that only three regions would be moved from their zones on Friday:
- The Middlesex-London Health Unit and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit are to move to the orange "restrict" level on Dec. 7 at 12:01 a.m.; and
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is supposed to move to the yellow "protect" level at the same time.
All the other public health units in the province will remain at their current restriction level.
"Over the last seven days we have seen the trends in key public health indicators continue to go in the wrong direction in these three regions," said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in the release.
"By taking proactive action and moving these regions to a higher level in the framework, we are helping them to reduce transmission in the community and avoid broader closures. The health and well-being of Ontarians remains our top priority."
Waterloo Region has had more than 3,800 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, including 126 deaths and more than 3,100 resolved cases.