Hamilton adds isolation centre amid concerns over rising coronavirus cases in shelters

Hamilton’s emergency operations centre (EOC) added an additional isolation site on Monday amid rising COVID-19 cases in the city’s shelter system.

Joining the existing shelter at the Bennetto Community Centre on Hughson Street will be the Central Memorial Recreation Centre, which adds capacity for about 30 people who qualify for the service.

EOC director Paul Johnson said the move was in response to an increase in cases within city shelters reported by public health over the last number of weeks, including a large outbreak at the Salvation Army Booth centre.

Read more: Hamilton’s public schools yet to produce COVID-19 case from testing clinics

“We have been doing this since the very early stages of the pandemic,” said Johnson.

“This is an additional isolation shelter because, quite frankly, we have so many cases that we are not able to handle them within the centres that have existed already.”

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The new addition brings the combined number of isolation spots between Bennetto and Central Memorial to 55.

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Johnson says residents living near the rec centre were notified through mail drops and other means over the last weekend.

The EOC intends to use the facilty for the next two to three weeks.

“That is meant to give us a break as we go through the largest wave of the number of cases,” Johnson said.

“As cases begin to clear themselves from the other isolation shelters, we want to move people back into them, but also move people into back into the shelter system as they are cleared and recover from COVID-19.”

As of Tuesday, there are seven shelters in Hamilton in outbreak status involving 89 coronavirus cases.

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The surge at the Salvation Army location on 94 York Boulevard accounts for 50 total cases among 39 residents and 11 staff.

Read more: 300 city staff to be redeployed to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Hamilton

An outbreak at YWCA’s Carole Anne’s Place drop-in centre ended after 13 days on Monday. The downtown shelter reported just a single resident case.

With the rise in cases, public health has prioritized vaccinations among those in the city’s shelter system with the mobile clinic administering over 200 vaccines to couples, families, and individuals who qualified on the weekend.

About 132 vaccines were administered on Saturday, 118 on Sunday, with another  90 on Monday, according to public health.

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