Kitchener-Waterloo

COVID-19 cases top 7,000 in Waterloo region, Friday stats show

Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 147 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total since March to 7,003. The region's medical officer of health says the community is seeing a 'acceleration' of virus spread following the holidays.

Region seeing 'acceleration' of virus spread following the holiday season, says Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang

Waterloo region is seeing an acceleration of new cases after the holidays, the region's medical officer of health says. There were 147 new cases reported Friday. (Robert Short/CBC)

The number of COVID-19 cases in Waterloo region have topped 7,000, as of Friday.

Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 147 new cases on Friday. That brings the total number of cases reported so far in January to 1,104 and since March to 7,003.

The 147 new cases on Friday is a dip from recent days: Thursday 187 new cases were reported and there were 189 on Wednesday.

Two more people have died after contracting the virus, the region reported Friday. The region's COVID-19 dashboard reported two additional deaths at Cambridge Country Manor, bringing the number of deaths associated with the outbreak at the home to 16.

There are 36 active outbreaks in the region.

There are 942 active cases in the region with 23 people in hospital and 11 of those people are in the intensive care unit.

The province reported 4,249 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

Workplace outbreaks

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's medical officer of health, says public health continues to see high case numbers as well as outbreaks in workplaces and congregate care centres. In the second wave, workplaces in particular have become among the most frequent settings experiencing outbreaks across the province and in the region, Wang said.

"Workplace outbreaks have increased signficantly during the second wave," she said Friday during a media briefing. Eighty-five per cent of workplace outbreaks in the region were declared in November and December 2020.

Wang said public health guidelines are generally followed in interactions between employees and the public, but are followed to a lesser extent between employees. This includes people carpooling, people not wearing masks in employee only areas and people going to work while symptomatic.

She noted community spread is also up.

"We are experiencing an acceleration in the spread of COVID-19 in our community following the holiday season," Wang said.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang is Waterloo region's medical officer of health. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

Wang said rising cases are not an indication that provincial lockdown measures aren't working.

"It is an indication that we cannot rely on them alone," she said. "Without a provincial lockdown, case rates and spread would be been even higher."

She notes the province is nearing the two-week mark of the lockdown, so case numbers reflect the interactions people had prior to the lockdown.

"It has been a difficult week, but there is still hope," she said. "We were able to flatten the curve in the spring by following the recommended measures and limiting out interaction with others. We can do it again."

22 tickets issued

Regional Chair Karen Redman provided an enforcement update on Friday, indicating there have been 22 tickets and six court summons issued between Dec. 28 to Jan. 6.

In Cambridge, four tickets were issued, three at private residences for hosting gatherings, and one at a business for being open as a non-essential business. The tickets carry a fine of $240 each.

In Kitchener, 13 tickets were issued, nine at a private residences. 

"Five of these were issued at one residence. This residence has been visited and ticketed previously," Redman said.

As well, five tickets were issued to local businesses for not following the lockdown rules.

In Waterloo, two tickets were issued at private residences for gatherings. 

Grand River Transit issued one ticket for failure to wear a mask. The ticket carries a $240 fine.

Region of Waterloo bylaw also issued two tickets to people for failure to wear a mask.

Redman also mentioned the charges by police and bylaw under the Reopening Ontario Act laid against Trinity Bible Chapel on Lobsinger Line. The church has been open for in-person church services and has exceeded capacity during the lockdown.

Redman said she cannot comment on the case because it's before the courts, but she is "deeply disappointed" in people who took part in this "civil disobedience."

"Regional staff are working with provincial legislation and are considering all options for next steps," Redman said.

36 active outbreaks

There are 36 active outbreaks in the region with 19 of them at long-term care or retirement homes.

Other outbreaks are:

  • Four at congregate settings: One with 18 cases, one with three cases and two with one case.
  • One at a food processing facility with 76 cases.
  • Four an manufacturing workplaces: One with 14 cases, one with four cases and two with two cases.
  • One at a gym with 12 cases.
  • Two at food and beverage services workplaces: One with four cases, one with two cases.
  • One related to hockey with five cases.
  • One at a warehouse with four cases.
  • One at a farm with four cases.
  • One at a retail workplace with three cases.

Grand River Hospital also declared a new outbreak on the 1F adult in-patient mental health unit. Three staff in the unit have tested positive for COVID-19.

Corrections

  • 85 per cent of workplace outbreaks in the region were declared in November and December 2020, as opposed to 85 percent of outbreaks in those months being at workplaces, as was initially written.
    Jan 08, 2021 5:02 PM ET

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