Coronavirus: Board of health to take on mandatory mask issue in Hamilton

A decision on mandatory mask wearing amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Hamilton, Ont. is still being discussed by the city's public health unit as of July 7, 2020. Wil Erskine / Global News

Hamilton’s mayor says he’s awaiting a recommendation from the city’s medical officer on whether the city should proceed with mandatory face coverings in all commercial and indoor public spaces to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson revealed that public health discussions were underway on a mandatory mask plan but said it was not imminent since the city’s number of cases remains low.

The conversation was spurred on as a number of municipalities in Ontario recently passed bylaws requiring masks, such as Toronto and Peel Region, or had medical officers of health issue orders, like in Guelph and Kingston.

Read more: Discussions underway in Hamilton, Ont., to make masks mandatory at enclosed public spaces

“It’s playing out in different ways, in different parts of the province right now, in part related to the epidemiology of the cases that they’re having,” said Richardson.

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“So if you look at Kingson, for example, they’ve had a large outbreak associated with people not wearing masks in a personal services setting.”

Richardson says outcomes in other regions of the province will likely influence a decision which could be decided when the board of health meets on July 10.

Meanwhile, the medical officer of health says public health is having issues trying to collect race and socioeconomic data in its daily COVID-19 statistics.

Advocates for Hamilton’s marginalized residents have been urging public health to begin collecting more detailed information about those who test positive for the novel coronavirus since early May.

Kojo Damptey, executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), said the city needs more comprehensive data, saying it would help “figure out how to address those that have been disproportionately affected” by the coronavirus.

Read more: Hamilton advocates call for tracking of race and income data in COVID-19 cases

“If you don’t have those numbers, how are you going to make the right decisions?” said Damptey.

Richardson said she’s had conversations with city staff in putting together race and socioeconomic data, however, shes says attempting to collect such information is “delicate.”

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“We are finding that some people are more comfortable answering one or another of the questions, and so for our any given question, our response rate isn’t always that high,” Richardson said.

“And so in terms of getting numbers that are meaningful for us to do data analysis with, it’s taking some time.”

Richardson said other factors include a decrease in the number of cases in the city which is limiting the pool of people to draw relevant COVID-19 information from, and that the city might have to reach out for ethics advice from the province’s health ministry in relation to looking backward at data.

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Public health is still targeting a possible September release for the data online.

Hamilton reported no new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Hamilton, Ont., reported no new coronavirus cases on July 3, which keeps the city’s overall number of cases as of Friday at 843 with 835 confirmed and eight probable, according to public health.

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The city has no current institutional outbreaks and just three COVID-19 patients in hospitals: one with Hamilton Health Sciences and two with St. Joseph’s hospital.

Read more: Ontario reports 165 new coronavirus cases, lowest increase in deaths since late March

To date, 752 of the city’s known COVID-19 cases — 89 per cent — have been resolved.

There were no new reported deaths on Friday, holding the total coronavirus-related deaths at 44. Thirty-four of the city’s deaths are connected to an institutional outbreak.

Niagara Region reports 2 new COVID-19 cases

Niagara public health officials reported two new coronavirus cases on Friday. The region has 762 total cases, with 29 of them active.

The region reported no new deaths, leaving the overall total at 61, with 50 tied to long-term care or retirement homes.

The region has three institutional outbreaks including two at long-term care homes (Garden City Manor in St. Catharines and Crescent Park Lodge in Fort Erie).

Eighty-eight per cent (672) of Niagara’s cases have been resolved.

Haldimand-Norfolk reports no new COVID-19 cases 

Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) reported no new COVID-19 cases on Friday and the region sits at 444 lab-confirmed, positive cases.

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Officials say 271 of those patients have since recovered.

Read more: Heat warnings issued across Hamilton-Niagara region for the weekend

The region has 32 COVID-19-connected deaths with 27 tied to residents at Anson Place Care Centre, a nursing home, in Hagersville.

Halton Region reports 4 new COVID-19 cases

Halton Region reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The region now has 843 cases, including 762 confirmed positive and 81 probable cases.

The region still has 25 deaths tied to COVID-19 as of July 3, with 12 the result of an outbreak at an institution.

Public health says 762 cases, or more than 90 per cent, have been resolved.

The region has only one institutional outbreak at the Waterford long-term care home in Oakville.

Three institutional outbreaks at long-term care homes in Burlington were declared over at the end of June at Creek Way Village, Billing Court, and CAMA Woodlands.

Read more: Quebec reports 19 new coronavirus deaths, 89 new cases on Friday

Seventy-nine of Halton’s total cases are connected to residents or patients in an institution.

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Brant County reports no new COVID-19 cases

Brant County’s health unit (BCHU) reported no new COVID-19 cases on Friday. The region has 122 total confirmed cases as of July 3.

The county still has four deaths, with 117 total resolved cases.

There are no institutional outbreaks as the second at ​Telfer Place retirement residence ended on Monday.


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