Waterloo region to enter Step 2 on Monday as COVID-19 case numbers stabilize
Chair Karen Redman says region 'fully focused on entering Step 3 in line with the province'
Waterloo region will enter Step 2 of the Ontario reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, the region's medical officer of health announced Thursday.
Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said the region's COVID-19 case numbers are seeing signs of stabilizing, even though the delta variant, also known as B.1617 and which was first detected in India, is "prevalent" in the region.
Wang held the region back from entering Step 2 with the rest of the province on June 30 because of an elevated number of new COVID-19 cases. She has said the numbers, which have been among the highest in the province for weeks, were due to the delta variant circulating widely in the community.
"We had an increase in our cases, but now what we're seeing is some stabilization of those rates. So in the face of delta, that is quite significant. What that shows is that Waterloo region is pushing back hard against delta," Wang said Thursday during a media briefing.
"Yes, we will continue to have pressure in our hospital system for a while and the case rates will not drop right away. There will continue to be cases and clusters and outbreaks of delta.
"We are not out of the woods yet," Wang added.
"I must emphasize however, that it remains very important for each and every one of us to continue practising public health measures and to continue getting vaccinated. We cannot let up now."
'The news we all wanted'
Regional chair Karen Redman said entering Step 2 "is the news we all wanted to hear."
Redman said she knows the delay in moving to Step 2 was difficult for residents, business and organizations, but it was necessary to ensure the region didn't backslide.
She said the region is now focused on entering Step 3 with the province. That will require people to get vaccinated, and Redman also noted the hockey hub clinic that opened Thursday at Bingemans and is set to run through the weekend is expected to be able to administer 20,000 doses.
"Let's keep this momentum going," Redman said of people getting vaccinated.
52 new cases, 3 deaths
Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 52 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
As well, there were three deaths linked to the virus — a man in his 40s, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 90s — bringing the total since March 2020 to 275.
There were 315 active cases. As well, 42 people were in the region's three hospitals, with 24 in the intensive-care unit (ICU).
The region has had a total of 17,904 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 17,308 marked as resolved.
There were 20 active outbreaks:
- Workplace: Nine.
- Long-term care or retirement home: Five.
- Hospitals: Three.
- Congregate setting: Two.
- Independent living facility: One.
The region's vaccination dashboard reported that 79.93 per cent of adults aged 18 years and older have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 46.65 per cent have received both doses.