34th COVID-19 death reported in CK, 11 outbreaks

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COVID-19 has claimed another life in Chatham-Kent.

Chatham-Kent Public Health reported the 34th local death caused by the virus on Thursday. Spokesman Jeff Moco said a woman in her 70s died from the virus. Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said she was not vaccinated.

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance also reported there are 29 COVID-19 patients in hospital. President and CEO Lori Marshall said 10 of them are unvaccinated, five are in the ICU, and three are on ventilators. Marshall noted 70 per cent of the ICU is full and seven patients are in the emergency department because there’s no bed for them.

She also said 160 staff members are off work because of COVID-19. Of those, 85 are not working because they have the virus or have been exposed to it, while 75 are working but self-isolating immediately afterwards or are working from home.

The local health unit is also reporting 11 COVID-19 outbreaks. The latest involves two cases at Park Street Place Retirement Home in Dresden. The other 10 are at three group homes, the Chatham hospital, and six at long-term care and retirement homes. The outbreaks have a total of 77 cases, but Dr. Colby said they’re going to be fine. He said the outbreak numbers reflect a focus on higher risk settings as directed by the province.

“The vast majority of people in these congregate facilities are vaccinated. So, I’m not anticipating there’s going to be a crisis as a result of this,” said Colby.

As far as comments made by Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore on Wednesday about not making vaccination mandatory, Colby believes it was a “slip of the tongue” more than anything else. Moore said mandatory vaccination was not being contemplated for students because it’s a “new vaccine” and the province needs “a greater experience with it before we’d ever mandate it.” Colby emphasized again that the vaccine is safe for students and he doesn’t think Moore’s comments will hurt vaccination efforts in Chatham-Kent too much.

“We have not been inundated with side effects or hazardous outcomes in this age group. I don’t think that he could have meant that the safety is actually questioned,” Colby added.

Colby said vaccine side effects are not being hidden, despite some on social media believing that’s the case. Colby also said more children in North America are getting very sick from COVID-19 and vaccination prevents that from happening and gives families more security with everyone in the house vaccinated. Dr. Colby also said it’s time to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the school mandatory vaccination program to put this pandemic behind us.

Ontario is reporting a record-high 3,630 people in the hospital with 500 of them in the ICU. Officials said 54 per cent of the hospitalizations are for COVID-19 and 46 per cent were admissions for other reasons, but the patients have since tested positive for the virus.

The new data also showed that half of Ontario’s long-term care homes now have COVID-19 outbreaks, the highest since the start of the pandemic.