Heading into Easter holiday weekend with family gatherings, Peterborough Public Health boosted its local COVID-19 risk index on Wednesday to the top level — “very high risk” — up from the second highest level of “high risk” which it had been at for the past two weeks.
The move comes after the health unit reported two new COVID-19 related deaths and three new outbreaks on Wednesday — along with 13 new hospitalizations since Monday, including a new intensive care unit admission.
The new deaths both involved men, both vaccinated, one in his 70s and one in his 90s. There have now been 65 cumulative COVID-19 deaths in the jurisdiction so far during the pandemic.
Peterborough Regional Health Centre, which has ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks on Unit A5 and Unit C2, had 32 admitted patients with the virus on Wednesday, up from 27 on Tuesday.
Medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott strongly urged this week that people follow all preventative measures over the Easter holiday, including masking and avoiding indoor social gatherings, as case levels spike.
But he has stopped short of issuing a local order reinstating the mandates that were mostly lifted by the province last month.
“It is clear that the sixth wave is continuing to surge and I remain very concerned for the health of our most vulnerable residents,” Piggott stated in a release.
“I know this is not the news we wanted to hear before a long holiday weekend, but the safest course of action is to wear a mask and avoid indoor social gatherings and high-risk settings where transmission can occur. This is important for us all to decrease transmission, but especially those at high risk of severe illness with COVID-19.”
The health unit is also urging students and staff to wear tightly fitted masks at local schools.
The new outbreaks are at the St. John’s Centre retirement home on Water Street and at two unnamed congregate living facilities in the city.
Ongoing outbreaks continue at Royal Gardens, Rubidge Retirement Residence, Centennial Place, Kawartha Heights Retirement Living, four other unnamed congregate living facilities in the city and one unnamed congregate living facility in the county.
Peterborough Public Health reported 111 new PCR test confirmed cases since Monday on Wednesday, while 67 cases were resolved, resulting in 333 active confirmed cases, up from 291 on Monday.
The jurisdiction of Peterborough city and county, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation has now had 6,601 cumulative confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March 2020 with 6,203 cases resolved and 65 deaths.
The reported cases are considered to be an underestimation of the actual total cases now that PCR testing is limited to people from a high-risk setting or for people with moderate symptoms if they go through their family doctor (more details are at ontario.ca/exposed). There have been countless cases in schools, daycares, congregate living facilities and in the public.
78,675 have had third dose
Eligibility for a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine expanded provincewide as of Thursday to all adults 60 years of age or older and First Nation, Inuit, and Métis adults 18 years of age or older, and their non-Indigenous household members. Recipients need to wait at least 140 days, or five months, since receiving their third dose to be able to book an appointment.
The proportion of local children 12 to 17 who have had a third booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine rose reached 18 per cent on Wednesday, while 62.7 per cent of local adults have now had a third booster (the health unit has yet to report numbers on fourth dose uptake).
As of Wednesday 40.3 per cent of local children aged 5 to 11 have now had a second pediatric dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 56.2 per cent have had at least one dose.
There are now 78,675 local residents who have received a third booster dose while 123,656 have had at least one dose and 119,434 have had at least two doses.
Of residents five and older who are eligible, 87.3 per cent have had at least once dose, 84.3 per cent have had at least two doses and 55.6 per cent have had a third booster dose as of Wednesday.
New clinics in the county
Peterborough Public Health’s has walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, as well as April 19 and 22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 25 and 27 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and April 26 and 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Healthy Planet Arena at 911 Monaghan Rd. in Peterborough.
Upcoming clinics in the county include April 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Buckhorn Community Centre, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Kawartha Community Centre and May 5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Norwood Community Centre.
Appointments can also be booked online at covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ with appointments getting priority over walk-ins.
Fourth dose booster shots are now available for immunocompromised people.
Masks are still required at health unit vaccination clinics.
Doses are also available at some pharmacies.
Rapid test kits
The Ontario government is continuing to distribute free COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits each week, available while in stock and while supplies last, with one box of five tests per household per visit.
On Wednesday the provincial government announced that the distribution will continue through to July 31.
Participating locations in Peterborough include the Brookdale IDA Pharmacy, Charlotte Care Pharmacy, Costco Pharmacy, Lansdowne Pharmacy, Loblaw Pharmacies at the Superstore, Your Independent Grocery and the George Street No Frills store, Metro, Pharmasave The Clinic Pharmacy, the Rexalls on George Street and Chemong Road, the Sherbrooke Heights Pharmacy, the two Shoppers Drug Marts on Lansdowne Street West as well as Chemong Road and Charlotte Street, the two Sobeys stores on Towerhill Road and Lansdowne Street West, The Medicine Shopper and the two Walmarts on Chemong Road and Lansdowne Street West.