Kingston’s medical officer of health lauds community for drastic drop in COVID-19 cases

KFL&A Public Health is reporting no new cases for a third time in a row this week. Kraig Krause / Global News

Kingston’s medical officer of health is applauding his community after active coronavirus cases dropped to just 14 Tuesday, one of the lowest case counts in the province, he said.

On Tuesday, KFL&A Public Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston region for the third time in a week.

“That’s a remarkably low number relative to anywhere else in Ontario today. We may have one of the lowest counts in the province at a population level,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region.

Nearby Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is reporting 25 active cases in the region, while Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is reporting 23 as of Monday.

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Moore got slightly emotional Tuesday talking about the local community’s role in the dramatic drop in active case counts over the last month.

I can’t thank the community enough … you are saving lives,” he said.

Active case counts hit an all-time regional high of 112 on Dec. 16, but cases have been on a decline since.

When asked if he thought lockdowns were the answer to Kingston’s sharp turnaround, Moore said they may have been a factor, but cases started to drop before the first lockdown was put in place Dec. 26.

I think that scare at the beginning of December where we had multiple outbreaks in places of worship, in dealerships, in other workplaces and in the student population — I think that raised awareness and it challenged us to slow down,” he said.

Moore said he also expected to see a bump after the holiday season, and although active cases remained above 50 until Jan. 12, active cases have now dipped to the low teens.

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Moore said this is part of a consistent pattern he’s noticed in the Kingston region — as soon as cases start to rise, the community reacts.

I think our community is brilliant. They listen. They respond when the threat increases, and as a result, our numbers have plummeted to one of the lowest in the province. I can’t thank the community enough,” he said.

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He noted that not only are residents saving lives by listening to public health guidelines, but they’re also taking pressure off public health officials who are now turning their attention towards vaccinations.

“When we don’t have to concentrate so much on case and contact management and outbreak management, we can move our resources to start building the plan for immunization,” he said.

Moore said that when he first saw no new cases at all in a day on Jan. 14, he thought it was due to a reporting error.

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I started saying the machines broke, the fax machines broke. We’re not getting data. I had them check the information feed. I had them check the data that we’re getting from the lab,” he said.

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This happened again on Saturday, and then once again Tuesday.

Moore noted that there are currently still two people in hospital, one of whom is in an intensive care unit, but that overall numbers for the region are still remarkable.

In fact, Kingston’s case counts are so low that it has been able to take in patients from other areas whose ICUs are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, including three from a Scarborough hospital over the weekend.

Moore also noted that the KFL&A Public Health team has been recognized, most notably by the auditor general and Ontario’s long-term care COVID-19 commission, for putting in early safeguards to protect long-term care homes.

“We have been looked at for our best practices and we’ve been called by multiple health units and we are supporting multiple health units in their COVID response,” he said.

He said there are many factors that have led to the recent success at slowing case counts, but he believes it has a lot to do with the community’s willingness to react to public health measures and to make sacrifices.

We’ve done this again and again, where COVID has threatened our community, our community has responded brilliantly and I’m very proud to be a member of KFLA,” he said.

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