Kitchener-Waterloo

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Waterloo region on May 19

The number of people presumed or confirmed positive with COVID-19 has increased by four, according to new numbers released by Region of Waterloo Public Health Tuesday morning.
There have been no new reported deaths in Waterloo region from COVID-19. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The number of people presumed or confirmed positive with COVID-19 has increased by four, according to new numbers released by Region of Waterloo Public Health Tuesday morning.

There are now 1,037 cases in the region. Public Health says there was an error in reporting the number of deaths. The number is 111, whereas the number reported on Monday was 112.

The number of cases marked as resolved increased by 58 to 673.

Also reported Tuesday:

  • 14,257 tests have been done in the region.
  • 32 people are in hospital. This does not include people moved from Forest Heights long-term care home into area hospitals.
  • 288 of people presumed or confirmed positive are health-care workers, making up 28 per cent of cases.

Hospitals plan for surgeries to restart

Hospitals in Waterloo region and Wellington county are planning for a gradual return to scheduled surgeries and procedures that were put on hold in March because of COVID-19.

The ability of hospitals to reopen depends on the province's framework, which includes:

  • Having capacity.
  • Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment.
  • Enough drugs for surgeries.
  • The ability to stop activity if there's a re-emergence of COVID-19 cases.

The ramp-up of more elective surgeries will take many weeks, according to a joint news release from the local hospitals. 

Patients will be contacted about re-booking their procedures and do not need to reach out to their doctor's offices, according to the hospitals in the region.

"We acknowledge that there are many people in our community who have been waiting for these procedures and services, and thank them for their patience as we've worked through this challenging time," said St. Mary's General Hospital president Lee Fairclough in a news release. 

Many of the conditions currently in place at hospitals will continue, such as the restricted visitor policy and the need for patients to wear masks, according to the hospitals.

GRT driver tests positive for COVID-19

During a public health press briefing, the region's chief administrative officer confirmed a Grand River Transit driver has tested positive for COVID-19.

When asked why the city didn't let the public know after it happened, Mike Murray said "we don't think that would have added any value in terms of additional safety for either operators or the travelling public."

He emphasized the city is committed to making transit safe for operators and customers. 

The city stands by its commitment to install plexiglass for drivers before reopening buses to front-door boarding, said Murray.

Lack of physical distancing

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's acting medical officer of health says she was discouraged to see so many people across the region not respecting physical distancing over the long weekend.

"We can't undo the good work that has gone into slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our region," said Wang.

"We cannot go back to the normal. We have to go to the new normal. And physical distancing is the foundation of the new normal."

Murray said there were about 200 or more site visits over the weekends, and no charges were laid for lack of physical distancing.

But he did say there were more complaints received for gatherings of more than five people.

Wang says she understands that with the reopening of certain parts of the province, people may feel they can become more lax in their approach to distancing. But she emphasized how important it is not to slide backwards.

Over the weekend, golf courses and private parks reopened. This week, construction and essential workplace limits were lifted and retail storefronts can reopen in a limited capacity.​​

"I repeat it's critical that residents continue to practice physical distancing to ward against rapid resurgence," said Wang.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is reporting 349 cases of COVID-19 in its coverage area, an increase of one from Monday.

The number of resolved cases is now 202, an increase of 3 cases. The number of deaths remains at 33 people, according to the public health authority.

Long-term home outbreaks

There are now 13 active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement homes in Waterloo region, an increase of one outbreak.

The new outbreak is at Parkwood Mennonite Long-Term Care in Waterloo, where one staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.

An outbreak is declared when one person living at a home or working there tests positive for COVID-19.

Waterloo region public health has been testing every resident and staff member at long-term care homes, as part of a directive from the provincial government.

The region has also been pushing to test all residents and staff members at retirement homes, according to Wang.

Although it hasn't become a provincial requirement, Wang says the region is testing retirement homes in priority order, starting with homes that have outbreaks.

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