'Virtual Assistant' to help Hamilton with case management and contact tracing for COVID-19

The City of Hamilton on Tuesday launched Virtual Assistant (VA), a new tool, which will enable Public Health Services to increase the speed and capacity for contact tracing and case management.

Tool will add another level of support for residents, enhance HPHS case management and contact tracing efforts

Francesca Passer, a registered pharmacist technician, prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The City of Hamilton on Tuesday launched Virtual Assistant (VA), a new tool, which will enable Public Health Services to increase the speed and capacity for contact tracing and case management. 

The VA is an internet and text messaging tool that will support the COVID-19 response in our community, the city said in a news release.

According to the city, residents recently tested for COVID-19 or close contacts of someone identified as positive may receive a text message from Hamilton Public Health Services with a secure link to complete a personal assessment form. 

"The text will allow the resident to click on a secure link to a form to provide information about health status, close contacts and other important information," the city says.

"By providing information using the online form before a call from Public Health, the investigator or contact tracer can review the information ahead of time and use the call to confirm and verify the information provided."

Form is voluntary, will take about 10 minutes to complete

The city says the form is voluntary and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. 

Residents can opt out by texting the word "STOP." If individuals have questions, they can continue to call Public Health to get answers. 

"This tool will add another level of support for our residents and enhance Hamilton Public Health Service's case management and contact tracing efforts," the city says.

"This process will help us to quickly identify the contacts of cases and get in touch with them quickly in a timely manner to reduce the further potential spread."

60 new cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton

Hamilton Public Health Services is reporting 60 new cases of COVID-19 today.

There are 330 active cases of COVID-19 in the city with no new death linked to the virus in the last 24 hours.

Hamilton's weekly rate of new cases per 100,000 people is at 41.

Since March, a total of 276 people have died after contracting COVID-19.

The total number of resolved cases now stands at 9,122.

There are currently 18 COVID-19 outbreaks in the city, the most recent being at Good Shepherd Men's Centre at 135 Mary St. and Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger says, 'We must make sure we don’t get complacent when we see our case numbers go down and our economy slowly reopens.' (CBC)

On Tuesday, Mayor Fred Eisenberger said people should not let their guard down.

"We must make sure we don't get complacent when we see our case numbers go down and our economy slowly reopens," Eisenberger said at a press conference.

"We are still in a crisis and it's a deadly virus in our community and there is also continuing concerns about the variants that may be out there.

"Do not let our collective hard work go in vain, please continue to follow the health and safety measures," he said.

Meanwhile, medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson is still concerned as Hamilton returned to the "red-control" zone of the provincial government's COVID-19 framework today.

"I'm still quite concerned and I would say we still need to be very, very cautious … about moving forward," Richardson said at the news conference.

"The new variants in particular are going to be an issue for us and we have to remember that the more cases that we have out there the more chance there is for other new variants to emerge.

"So we definitely are hoping that people are really hearing that there is a strong message about the need to continue to follow public health measures; there're strong reasons for it and that ultimately people will make the decision to do so," she said.

Medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson says she is still concerned as Hamilton returned to the "red-control" zone of the provincial government's COVID-19 framework on Tuesday. (CBC)

Status of vaccine distribution in Hamilton

As of the end of day Feb. 15, a total of 25,593 vaccines had been administered — 8,354 at mobile clinics and 17,239 at the fixed clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences.                   

The fixed-site vaccination clinic is currently vaccinating staff from long-term care and high-risk retirement homes, essential caregivers, and health-care workers from high-risk areas.


The county of Brant has 18 active cases according to data online. There were seven new cases in the last 24 hours.

There have been 1,400 cases since March and 12 deaths. There's no one currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

A total of 1,370 cases have been marked as resolved. 

On Tuesday the county of Brant returned to the Orange – Restrict Zone of the province's framework.

Customer service offices in Paris and Burford were opened from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The following community centres have also reopened:

  • Brant Sports Complex (944 Powerline Rd., Paris).

  • Burford Community Centre (14 Potter Dr., Burford).

  • South Dumfries Community Centre (7 Gaukel Dr., St.George).

  • Syl Apps Community Centre (51 William St., Paris).

All cemeteries in the county will limit attendance to a maximum of 50 people (not including staff) at all gatherings, funerals, visitations, funeral receptions and graveside services.

Curbside pickup at libraries will continue for the week of Feb. 16 - 20, with indoor services resuming on Feb. 22.


Haldimand and Norfolk Counties are reporting a total of 21 active cases of COVID-19 with two new cases reported over the last 24 hours.

There have been 1,384 cases throughout the pandemic. Of those 1,319 have recovered.

The local public health unit has linked the virus to 39 deaths.

Meanwhile, Norfolk County is preparing to reopen its recreational and cultural facilities.

As of the end of day Feb. 15, a total of 25,593 vaccines had been administered — 8,354 at mobile clinics and 17,239 at the fixed clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences. (Submitted by Haldimand County)

The county's plan includes the re-opening of arenas, the pool and the Port Dover Harbour Museum, with a range of COVID-19 safety protocols in place at each facility. These include the mandatory wearing of masks, physical distancing, frequently disinfecting touch surfaces, limited capacity and more.

Arenas: Staff have returned to county arenas and are preparing the facilities for re-opening. Ice rentals will begin on Feb. 17. If there is sufficient demand, ice may be left in at some arenas until April 17. 

Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre: Staff are expected to return from their redeployments to other county operations in early March to prepare for a reopening on March 9.

Museums: The Port Dover Harbour Museum will open Thursday and Friday afternoons as well as Saturdays on March 11 using a timed entry system. Staff will assess the situation after a number of weeks and consider further museum openings.  

Halls and community centres: County-operated halls and community centres will remain closed until May 1.

Programming: Virtual programming at County museums continues, and virtual recreational programming will be available soon. In-person camps, if possible and permitted, will also be offered for the expected "March Break" in April. 

Staff continue to work with members of the Simcoe Seniors Centre to prepare space at the Simcoe Recreation Centre for opening. 


The number of COVID-19 cases in Halton rose by 66, for a total of 9,073 so far.

Data indicates 259 of those cases are active.

Five of the new cases were in Burlington, which has seen 2,347 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There are 42 active cases in the city.

A total of 185 people across the region have died after being infected with the virus, 49 of them in Burlington.

The City of Burlington is preparing to resume some city services and programs. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Meanwhile, Burlington is preparing to resume some city services and programs following an announcement by the provincial government that Halton Region, including the City of Burlington, will move to the Red Zone of the province's COVID-19 framework.

These city services will be delivered.


Niagara is reporting 14 new cases of COVID-19. The region has seen 8,385 cases over the course of the pandemic, including 330 that are active.

A total of 361 deaths have been linked to the virus over the course of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, 7,794 cases are now marked as resolved.

Six Nations

Six Nations of the Grand River has 44 active COVID-19 cases, according to Ohsweken Public Health.

There have been 243 cases reported over the course of the pandemic.

Today Ohsweken Public Health notified Six Nations Health Services of a third COVID-19 related death in the community.

"Elected Council and the Emergency Control Group send heartfelt condolences to those families and friends affected by this recent passing," a statement reads.

A total of 196 cases have been marked as resolved.

Ontario sees 1,868 COVID-19 cases over 2 days

Ontario is reporting 1,868 new cases of COVID-19 from the last two days, while a stay-at-home order that had been in place since last month has been lifted in most parts of the province.

Health Minster Christine Elliott said Tuesday that the province is reporting 904 cases today, as well as 964 cases from the holiday Monday.

Testing numbers were well below capacity, with just 27,005 tests completed on Feb. 15, and 30,355 on Feb. 14. The province also reported 13 deaths on Sunday and another 13 on Monday.

The province also says 10,679 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered yesterday, for a total of 467,626 given out so far


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