Hamilton

'Able to get on with their lives': 34 people in Hamilton recovered from COVID-19

It's a bright spot in a month of grim coronavirus anxiety. Of Hamilton's 112 COVID-19 cases, about a third have already recovered.

Delay plans for that Easter dinner, the city says, and stop visiting Albion Falls

More than 300 people visited Albion Falls despite warnings to keep their distance from each other, says Paul Johnson, director of the city's emergency operations centre. (Robert Todd)

It's a bright spot in a month of grim coronavirus anxiety. Of Hamilton's 112 COVID-19 cases, nearly one third have already recovered.

The often-reported number of COVID-19 cases in Hamilton — and across Canada — tends to include all confirmed cases, including those that are ongoing or have ended in death or recovery. In Hamilton's case, 34 people of the 112 confirmed to have COVID-19 have recovered, says Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health.

"They've become asymptomatic," she said, "and they've been able to get on with their lives again."

Richardson shared the number during the city's third weekly town hall to take public questions about the pandemic. Questions ranged from why leaf and yard waste pickup has halted, where people can park, and what to do about neighbours who keep having parties.

Hamilton has grappled with COVID-19 since it first touched the city on March 10. Since then, residents across the age spectrum have had the virus, with the largest group (47) aged 20 to 44.

Fifteen COVID-19 patients have required hospitalization. Two people have died.

Currently, nine people are in hospital and two are in intensive care, Richardson said. The majority of cases are still connected to travel, but community spread will soon eclipse that.

Richardson said research is still inconclusive as to whether those recovered from COVID-19 are immune now. 

Here's some other info from the town hall:

HSR will limit riders to 10 per bus

The city is imposing stricter limits on public transit, and people will be inconvenienced, says Paul Johnson, director of the city's emergency operations centre. 

Starting Friday, the city will limit riders to 10 people per bus, or 15 per articulated bus. "There will be pass-bys," he said, and employers should be flexible with workers who use HSR.

People with mobility devices will have to enter through the rear doors of the bus, he said. Currently, most riders enter through the rear doors and people with mobility devices use the front doors. Johnson suggested people with mobility devices "travel with a companion who can help them get on and off the bus."

"I know some of these changes will be hard for some folks in this community," he said. "We recognize that. But that's the balance that we're under right now."

The goal, Johnson said, is to put more distance between people. "We strongly, strongly, strongly urge people to only use transit when it's essential."

More people are dumping illegally

Johnson said illegal dumping, vandalism and graffiti have increased. People seem to be taking advantage of the empty streets to behave badly, and city staff are "running ragged" trying to stop it.

"Knock it off," he said.

Plenty of people are also building without building permits, including a resident who put an addition on a house. The building department is still open, Johnson said, and people still need permits. 

Stop visiting Albion Falls

People should stay two metres apart from each other, Johnson said. To encourage that, the city has either closed or is discouraging people from visiting amenities such as trails, waterfalls and escarpment stairs.

The city closed the Albion Falls parking lot, but Johnson said people are still going there.

"Over 300 people were at Albion Falls today despite the fact that it's closed," he said. "Many of them chose to park every which way but Sunday around the area."

Why has leaf and yard waste collection stopped?

Johnson says the city has scaled back some of its services in anticipation of staff absences. That includes the collection of leaf and yard waste.

Recently, 120 city workers were isolating after returning from March break trips, he said. In the future, absences could be even more widespread. So the city has paused leaf and yard waste collection for now.  

No Easter and Passover dinners

Families planning big dinners for Easter and Passover should set some rain dates, Mayor Fred Eisenberger said. Physical distancing will still be in effect then. City facilities will remain closed until May 25, he said.

"I'm still stunned when I say that, but the reality is this is going to be necessary."

In terms of Easter and Passover, "we can't do that right now," he said. "What we need to adopt is a strategy that allows us to celebrate that some other time."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

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