Hamilton

Hamilton closures extend to end of May as city reaches 101 confirmed COVID-19 cases

The city is extending closures to May 25 as more COVID-19 cases pop up in the city. It will also begin testing others with symptoms in long-term care facilities.

Roughly one in three infected people — 29 in total — have recovered and there is still just one death

The city of Hamilton will continue its closures into the end of May as more COVID-19 cases pop up. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

The city of Hamilton's closures will extend to May 25 as new COVID-19 cases continue to appear and cast doubt on how much longer it will take for life to return to normal.

But Mayor Fred Eisenberger also warned things will only re-open at the end of May "if we can and the virus is at bay."

"Hopefully we can adhere to that date but if we can't we'll adjust accordingly down the road," he said during a media briefing Tuesday.

Though, Paul Johnson, director of the city's emergency operations centre, said some other services may open before then.

"You will see some sub-messaging around this that will talk about some of the other programs that have either been suspended or things we're doing differently in the community which may not extend through to May 25."

The move comes alongside the province's announcement Tuesday to close classrooms until at least May 4.

More than 100 COVID-19 cases in Hamilton

Hamilton has 101 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday at noon, with 43 per cent of those coming from travel and roughly 24 per cent resulting from community spread.

Roughly one in three infected people — 29 in total — have recovered and there is still just one death.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, the city's medical officer of health, said while the tally of infected people has risen, they are working through a backlog of test results from Public Health Ontario.

"We're getting caught up overall," she said.

The city website notes there may be a noticeable increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 between March 29 to April 4 because of the delay in test results. The symptom onset dates of these cases range over the time period March 13 to present.

Though there have been discrepancies about what the number represents.

The outbreak at Heritage Green Nursing Home in Stoney Creek, which accounts for the only local death, seems to have affected as many as 27 people on multiple floors, all of whom reported showing symptoms. Until today, the city wasn't testing them for the virus, but as of last night — because of a Ministry of Health directive — anyone with symptoms in a long-term care facility will be tested.

But true number of confirmed cases may never be known, as Richardson said the number could be at least 10 times higher than the current count.

And while those are estimates, stats like those continue to prompt city officials to ask residents to take physical distancing seriously. 

Eisenberger warned all residents should "assume you are infected" and stay inside.

A child's forgotten glove is wedged into a bench at an otherwise barren Gage Park. Calls for physical distancing have led people to try and stay away from one another as COVID-19 continues to infect people in Hamilton. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Following provincial direction issued on March 30, the city implemented additional closures of dog parks, skate parks, the Bayfront Park boat launch and several parking lots in high traffic areas in Hamilton.

Though, Eisenberger added green spaces and parks, ravines, conservation areas and other spots that haven't already been closed are open for walking, so long as locals stay two metres apart from each other.

Johnson said Hamilton Street Railway service should also only be used for essential travel.

Ornge, Ontario's provider of air ambulance and related services, also announced it would station a critical care ambulance and two paramedics in Hamilton for 12 hours a day starting April 6. 

"The new resource is in anticipation of an increase in the need to provide timely transport for COVID-19 patients to tertiary care centres and an increase in the need to conduct timely critical care repatriations," reads a release.

Here are some of the trends from the 101 COVID-19 cases in Hamilton per the city website:

  • Twelve of these cases were hospitalized for COVID-19.
  • Three of these cases are long-term care facility residents.
  • Thirty of those infected had close or casual contact with a case and no travel history.
  • Four of those infected are under the age of 20.
  • Forty-one of those infected are ages 20-44.
  • Thirty-three of those infected are ages 45-64.
  • Twenty of those infected are ages 65-79.
  • Three of those infected are 80 or older.

And here are tips to protect yourself:

  • Stay home if you are ill or not.
  • Avoid non-essential trips in the community.
  • If you need groceries or essential items, practice physical distancing and stay two metres away from others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Avoid contact with people who are ill and their items.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Wash hands after coughing and sneezing.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, exercise and enough sleep, to enhance your body's immune system.

About the Author

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca