Hamilton's COVID-19 numbers accelerate as people veer outside their bubbles

The number of new daily COVID-19 cases in Hamilton is creeping back up, which seems to be a combination of Stage 3 and people getting lax about keeping to their social bubbles.

Associate medical officer of health says people need to stick to earlier habits and limit social contact

Staff at Hamilton Health Sciences don personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic in June. Officials say numbers are accelerating lately, in part because of people socializing more. (Hamilton Health Sciences)

The rate at which new people are being diagnosed with COVID-19 every day in Hamilton is creeping upward, and health officials point to Stage 3 and people getting lax about keeping to their social bubbles as the reasons why.

It's not cause for panic, but it should serve as a warning, according to Dr. Ninh Tran, the city's associate medical officer of health. Sixteen more people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Hamilton over the weekend, he said, and another four since Monday. This comes after weeks of averaging only two or three new cases a day.

Tran says it's a mix of Stage 3, which means residents getting out more to indoor spaces like stores and restaurants, and people not staying in their bubbles. People have COVID-19 fatigue, he says, and they're seeing friends who aren't part of a self-contained bubble of 10.

"What we've been seeing is a slow rise in the number of cases we've been having," he said. 

"We were fortunate to reach one to two cases per day ,and that's slowly creeping up to three and four and five."

This chart shows the number of cases Hamilton has seen from March to Aug. 17. (City of Hamilton)

He says people still need to keep a physical distance of two metres, wear masks when they can't, wash their hands often and keep a social bubble of only 10 people. And that bubble should be self contained, he says, not 10 people who each socialize with 10 other people.

Tran says he understands the weariness. People were vigilant for months, and now they want to see their friends. 

Lately, "we haven't been as good about it, or as disciplined," he said.

"People are bending the rules and not following the instructions, particularly the social bubble."

Hamilton's daily increases are still within the realm of the provincial average, he said. But "I want people to take notice of the numbers, and be vigilant.

"We all need to look toward getting a bit more back to what we were used to doing," says Dr. Ninh Tran. (Adam Carter/CBC)

"I want to remind folks that we all need to look toward getting a bit more back to what we were used to doing if we want to prevent the numbers from going up more."

Forty-eight people are known to have COVID-19 in Hamilton right now. By comparison, there were 22 on Aug. 7. Hamilton has seen 951 cases since March. Forty-five people (five per cent) have died and 858 people (90 per cent) have recovered.

St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton has two people in hospital from COVID-19 right now, and Hamilton Health Sciences lists "five or less."

The increase comes as the city's public and Catholic school boards announce their reopening plans, and the city slowly reopens some of its facilities. 

Hamilton entered Stage 3 of the reopening plan on July 24. 

Other areas are seeing an uptick of new cases too. Ontario overall is reporting 125 new cases, the highest single-day total since the end of July.

That increase is largely because of localized increases, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter. There are 27 new cases in Toronto, 28 in Windsor-Essex, 17 in Peel and 12 in Waterloo. 

Here's what's happening in areas around Hamilton:


Brant/Brantford has four residents known to have COVID-19 right now, which is on par with the last few weeks. None of them are in hospital.

Five people have died from the virus and 143 have recovered, for a total of 152.


Twenty-two people across the two counties are known to have COVID-19 right now, with no new cases since Monday. 

Overall, there have been 471 confirmed cases, of which 417 recovered and 32 died. 


There are 29 people in Halton known to have COVID-19 right now, down one from Monday. 

Three more people have recovered for a total of 889. Twenty-five people have died since March. The number of known cases increased by two over Monday, for a total of 942 (857 confirmed, 86 probable.)

In Burlington, the number of active cases remains at seven people. Seven people have died and 183 have recovered, for a total of 196.


Niagara had seven new people test positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, and three since Monday. There are 36 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 right now. 

Overall, 908 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, of which 819 have recovered and 64 have died.

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


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.