Woman in her 30s becomes youngest Manitoban to die of COVID-19 as province announces 270 cases
5-day test positivity rate hits record 13.6%; province mulls extended Christmas break for schools
The youngest Manitoban to die of COVID-19 to date is a woman in her 30s among seven deaths announced today.
"All of the deaths that we announce are tragic … but especially when we see a young person," Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.
He announced 270 new cases and a record-high provincial test positivity rate of 13.6 per cent.
The announcement was made as community transmission soars, and triple-digit days have become the norm.
Manitoba has had over 3,000 cases since Tuesday last week. Nearly 90 per cent of deaths so far happened since the beginning of last month. Over 50 deaths are tied to two Winnipeg care homes.
The woman in her 30s from the Interlake-Eastern health region lived with underlying health conditions, Roussin said. She is the youngest person to die of the illness in the province yet.
WATCH | Roussin calls death of woman in her 30s tragic:
Though people over 60 are generally more at risk from COVID-19, soaring cases will mean less common outcomes will become more common, Roussin said.
"This is a critical juncture for us," said Roussin. "No one's risk is truly their own."
Roussin also urged Manitobans to trust only credible sources of information.
"As much as we'd all love to put our heads in the sand and ignore what's going on, you can see from our hospitals, you can see from these deaths that I am announcing every day, that we can't ignore COVID-19," he said.
Two deaths are linked to an outbreak at the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre in Winnipeg, and one is tied to the Victoria General Hospital outbreak.
Roussin also declared outbreaks at four more care homes: Bridgepark Manor assisted living facility in Steinbach, Fairview Personal Care Home in Brandon, Winnipegosis personal care home and Southeast Personal Care Home in Winnipeg. There is also an outbreak at the Union Gospel Mission in Winnipeg.
Of the new cases, nearly as many were identified in Southern Health (106) as in Winnipeg (119).
Premier Brian Pallister hinted earlier Tuesday that the province is mulling the possibility of extending Christmas break for school-age children, and Roussin said officials are considering that possibility.
There are a record 240 people in hospital with the illness; 41 of them are in intensive care. There are 30 under the age of 50, nine of them in the ICU, Roussin said.
'Irresponsible' big-box store sales
There are reports some stores are advertising in-store Black Friday sales, Roussin said, calling them "irresponsible."
There were also reports of big box stores attracting crowds over the weekend, just days after many smaller retailers were forced to close due to provincewide code red restrictions.
WATCH | Doctor's orders — stay home on Black Friday:
Stores deemed critical that are allowed to stay open must keep their capacity down to 25 per cent, and businesses found to be violating or skirting the rules could be fined, he said.
Devising orders that cover all stores when some larger retailers may sell a variety of essential and non-essential items has been a challenge, Roussin said. That's why it's important businesses and Manitobans buy into the spirit of the orders instead of trying to skirt the rules, he said.
It's possible more restrictions could be rolled out soon to prevent big box retailers from selling non-essential items, he said.
"This isn't the time for having a large in-person sale for non-essential goods or services," he said. "Our hospitals are at their limits."
On Tuesday morning, Premier Brian Pallister announced people at a weekend gathering in Steinbach protesting against current rules will face charges and fines, and a contract with a security firm will add about 90 guards to the current enforcement effort.
The community has one of the highest COVID-19 caseloads per capita in Canada, and Pallister hinted some of those in attendance could expect fines in the mail.
Gathering sizes are restricted to five, not counting those in a hosting household, though officials have urged Manitobans to avoid gatherings entirely.
The province also announced a new drive-thru testing site opening Friday at the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service training academy at 2546 McPhillips St. Firefighters will provide 40 to 60 tests a day by appointment to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency communications personnel and health-care workers.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority will also open up a limited number of appointment-based tests for health-care workers at 2735 Pembina Highway and 604 St. Mary's Rd.
About 350 health-care workers have tested positive since the last week of August, as Manitoba continues to see record-setting numbers daily.
So far, 179 Manitobans have died of COVID-19. Most of those deaths happened in October and November, with nearly a third of all deaths involving residents from two Revera-run care homes in Winnipeg.
A list of possible school exposures is available on the province's website.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | Nov. 17, 2020: