22 new cases of COVID-19 in Waterloo region

Four more people have died from COVID-19 in Waterloo region, bringing Friday's total to 72, according to Waterloo Region Public Health. Two of the deceased had been living at Trinity Village long-term care home in Kitchener.
On Friday, Waterloo Region Public Health said there had been 22 new cases of COVID-19 in its public health unit. On Thursday there had been just 14 new positive or presumptive cases of the virus in the region. (David Blomme/NSHA)

Four more people have died from COVID-19 in Waterloo region, bringing Friday's total to 72, according to Waterloo Region Public Health.

Two of the deceased had been living at Trinity Village long-term care home in Kitchener.

The public health unit also reported 22 new positive or presumptive cases of COVID-19. According to public health data, that is a 57 per cent increase from Thursday, when only 14 new cases were reported. 

Since the pandemic began in March, the largest single-day increase was on April 16, when Waterloo Region Public Health saw 75 new positive or presumptive cases of the novel coronavirus. 

Testing is still limited in Waterloo region and so far has been focused on people mostly likely to have direct contact with the virus. In mid-April the criteria was expanded to include essential workers and the family of heathcare workers.

Cases broken down by area

On Friday, public health released where in the region people had tested positive including: Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich.

The highest rate of community-spread infections is in Kitchener at 66.5 per 100,000 people. The lowest rate of community-spread infections is in Wellesley Township, at a rate of 17.3 per 100,00 people. 

The public health unit released the breakdown after repeated requests, said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Region of Waterloo Public Health's acting medical officer of health.

She cautioned the numbers don't tell the whole story of the spread of COVID-19 in the region. 

"This is part of the broader picture," said Wang. "We have cases in every municipality, and people should just assume that they can get it anywhere, that there is not a municipality that is 'high risk' and there is not a municipality that is 'low risk,'" said Wang.  

(Region of Waterloo Public Health)

Public health also reported two new outbreaks in what it calls "congregate settings," which include homeless shelters and group homes. 

Wang said the locations are not being identified because these types of facilities have small numbers of staff and residents, and naming the facilities would compromise patient identity. 

So far, 18 residents and 16 staff have tested positive in congregate settings.

Thinking of a garage sale? Think again

Although warm weather may be tempting some people to consider holding a garage sale this weekend, the City of Waterloo is asking people to stay strong. 

"Warmer spring temperatures often trigger garage sales," the city said in a statement Friday.

"However, in keeping with provincial directives to not have gatherings of more than five people, the need to observe physical distancing and to not gather with people from outside your own household, garage sales should not be held until restrictions are lifted by the province."

City officials are also urging people to keep a six metre distance from others when using parks and trails.

Parks and trails are only open for "walk through" access and should not be used as venues to play catch or socialize, the city said. 

No fireworks on Victoria Day, urge cities

Cities in the area are reminding people there will be no public fireworks displays for Victoria Day, because of the restrictions placed on public gatherings.

The province continues to restrict gatherings to no more than 5 people, unless they live under the same roof or work in an essential sector. 

Fireworks will not be allowed in city parks, sports fields, laneways or school properties. The cities are also asking people not to set off their own fireworks displays — even in their own backyards, said the City of Waterloo in a news release.

Doing so could tie up emergency resources if celebrations go sideways, said the Region of Waterloo's chief administrative officer Mike Murray. 

"I know the local fire chiefs are always — every year — concerned about people using fireworks in their backyard. It can go wrong pretty quickly and that puts demand on fire, on EMS," said Murray.

There are other ways to celebrate, said Chief Richard Hepditch from Waterloo Fire Rescue.

"Rather than traditional fireworks, we are asking people to celebrate creatively — access age appropriate fireworks videos on YouTube, or use glow sticks, observe physical distancing and celebrate responsibly," said Hepditch. 

22 deaths in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph

There have been 22 deaths counted in the area covered by the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health unit.

Eighteen of those deaths have happened in retirement or long-term care homes. Twelve were in Shelburne Residence, four were at Norfolk Manor and two were at Dufferin Oaks. 

As of Friday morning, the health unit counted 281 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wellington County, Dufferin County and Guelph. Of those cases, 102 have been marked as resolved.

Nine people in the region are listed by the health unit as being in hospital and four are in intensive care.

St. Joseph's test results

No one at the St. Joseph's Health Centre in Guelph tested positive for COVID-19 during a mass test held at the facility on April 18.

All 297 patients and residents who were tested came back with negative results, the centre said in a news release.

David Wormald, the centre's president, said the results were an "immense relief," but that staff are still maintaining strict infection control practices.

More from today:

with files from CBC's Paula Duhastchek


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