More than half of COVID-19 deaths in Waterloo region are in long-term care homes

There are now 15 deaths in Waterloo region from COVID-19, eight of which were people who were living in long-term care homes. The number of cases in the region rose to 379, new numbers released Wednesday morning show.
There have been 15 deaths from COVID-19 in Waterloo region and eight have been in long-term care or retirement homes. (Jean-Francois Badias/Associated Press)

Fifteen people have now died from COVID-19 in Waterloo region, eight of whom were living in long-term care homes.

The 15th death in the region, reported in new numbers released Wednesday morning, was a person who lived at Forest Heights Revera in Kitchener. In that care home alone, 51 residents and 27 staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In a letter to families, Revera president and CEO Thomas Wellner said staff at the home is "doing absolutely everything in our power to reduce the risk of further spread of COVID-19."

"Our strategic sourcing team is truly scouring the earth for personal protective equipment so we can keep our employees and our loved ones safe. We have purchased and are deploying Clorox 360 deep cleaning machines across our network," the letter said. "We are aggressively recruiting new staff. And we have implemented physical distancing across all aspects of our operations."

The Region of Waterloo's acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said public health is working with Revera, and all long-term care and retirement homes in the region that have declared outbreaks, on ways to mitigate the spread.

"I don't think that we can fully understand right at this time why there may be some homes where it may be spreading faster or more," Wang said during a media briefing on Wednesday.

Forest Heights Revera is one of 14 different long-term care or retirement homes that have declared outbreaks in the area.

Cases rise to 379

The number of cases in the region rose to 379, Wednesday's numbers showed. The numbers are accurate as of 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

The new numbers also showed:

  • There have been 3,505 tests done.
  • 24 people have been hospitalized.
  • 116 cases are health-care workers.
  • 127 cases have been marked as resolved.

The region is not currently testing everyone with symptoms for COVID-19. Public health has said there are certain groups who are prioritized for testing including health-care workers, hospital patients and people living and working in long-term care homes.

The region says negative test results are also no longer being reported on its website because the province is no longer sending the negative results.

Long-term care home cases rise

There are 14 long-term care and retirement homes in Waterloo region with outbreaks. There are 131 positive cases linked to homes including both residents and staff. There have been eight deaths at homes.

Facility closures until June 30

Regional, city and township facilities including community centres, arenas, playgrounds and sports fields will be closed until June 30, the various municipalities that make up the Region of Waterloo announced Wednesday.

Libraries, pools and splash pads will also be part of the closure.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said in a release that announcing closures now until June 30 means "residents and program organizers will have greater certainty — with their efforts not being wasted in planning and residents won't be disappointed that a spring session may not materialize or may need to be cancelled later."

Township of Woolwich officials said in a release that staff will continue to monitor the situation and they are "hopefully that circumstances will improve such that an earlier opening will be possible for at least some of these facilities."

It follows an announcement on Monday that community events and programs are cancelled until June 30 and that Canada Day celebrations may be at risk as well.

4th death in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph

There are now 162 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the areas covered by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

There have been four deaths: two in Guelph, one in Wellington County and one in Dufferin County.

The numbers, which were updated Wednesday morning, also show 10 people are in hospital and four are in intensive care.

As well, 38 cases have been marked as resolved.

Outbreaks have also been declared in the following long-term care homes:

  • Caressant Care in Fergus.
  • Wellington Terrace in Fergus.
  • Dufferin Oaks in Shelburne.
  • Shelburne Residence in Shelburne.
  • Homewood Health Centre in Guelph.
  • St. Joseph's Health Centre in Guelph.
  • Norfolk Manor in Guelph.

Public health's website does not list how many cases there are in each long-term care facility.

As well, there is an outbreak at the Headwaters Health Centre hospital in Orangeville.

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