Public Health Sudbury and Districts enacts new measures as COVID-19 cases rise

Sudbury will need to reinstate protections recently lifted by the province, as COVID-19 cases in the area continue to rise.

With recent surge, PHSD orders new measures to come into effect Wednesday 12:01 a.m.

Public Health Sudbury and District is enacting new orders to help combat a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Sudbury will need to reinstate protections recently lifted by the province, as COVID-19 cases in the area continue to rise.

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health for Public Health Sudbury and Districts, said those restrictions include capacity limits indoors, physical distancing requirements, masking requirements at organized public events, both indoors and outdoors, and requiring proof of vaccination for anyone aged 12 and older participating in organized sports.

"The situation regarding COVID-19 is really alarming," Sutcliffe said. "We are seeing not only high rates, but a rapid increase in cases, and we are seeing this not in pockets of individuals or specific outbreaks, but really widespread throughout our community. So outbreaks, as well as many individuals for whom we just don't know how they were infected in the first place."

"We absolutely need to turn the corner," she added.

The restrictions will take effect Nov.10 at 12:01 a.m. for Greater Sudbury, only.

The region recently hit 3,000 cases reported since the start of the pandemic, including 122 reported Monday. With 257 current cases, Sudbury has the highest rate of active cases among the province's 34 health units.

Health Sciences North, the Sudbury Jail, and three long-term care facilities have reported recent outbreaks, as have several bars and restaurants, and two mines.

According to press release from the health unit:

"The 14-day rate of new cases (incidence rate) is almost double that of the next highest public health unit in Ontario—151.5 per 100 000 vs. 92.7 per 100 000."

Public Health Sudbury and Districts said no single setting or sector is driving the increase, and widespread transmission is especially high in the 18-39 age bracket, a demographic that is also reporting lower vaccination rates than other age groups.

Sutcliffe, however, said the rise in cases is linked to the province's decision to roll back restrictions.

"We've seen an increase in cases that, on a timeline perspective, is associated with the lifting of the capacity limits in Ontario that began on October 9th," she said. "And so if you look at the lifting of those limits and the trajectory of our courses versus cases, or seeing those cases I'm not saying that is the only thing, but that is a contributing factor."

Sutcliffe added that she wasn't putting a timeline on the restrictions.

"We will watch the cases," Sutcliffe said. "If it's an effective circuit breaker, we should see those cases coming down in two weeks time. If not, then we'll have to keep an eye on that and determine from the data what else might need to be put in place."