A Hamilton health policy expert with McMaster University believes the province should think about advancing COVID-19 vaccination plans for younger residents across Ontario amid potential opposition to current stay-at-home orders.
Dr. Ahmad Firas Khalid told Global News it’s expected municipal health units should see the effects of the latest lockdown within’ the next two weeks. However, his fear is infection numbers may not proportionally decline as they did in the first stay-at-home order in 2020.
“The reason I say this is because we’re hearing many reports of people gathering in large numbers, indoor and outdoor gatherings,” said Firas Khalid.
“There seems to be more defiance against the current home orders because, again, people are frustrated and they just don’t understand really how any of those measures are going to work.”
Hamilton public health reported another 134 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the fourth day in a row the city has recorded over 100 infections.
The city’s seven-day average of new cases is at 119 as of April 12.
On Monday, the province’s chief medical officer said it will likely be another week before public health can confirm the effects of the Easter weekend on regional case counts.
However, Dr. David Williams says it’s possible that the latest provincial totals — which have been hovering around 4,000 cases a day — and recent bumps in hospitalization from COVID could be connected to the holiday since the new variants of the virus are more efficient.
“That’s a shift in the behaviour of the variant and health-care providers have noted that and the amount of severity they (patients) are coming in with,” Williams said in an update on Tuesday.
Active cases are now over 1,000 (1,028) in Hamilton with over 80 per cent tied to people under the age of 50. About 44 percent under the age of 30.
Firas Khalid says it “makes sense” infections are catching up with the younger demos since the majority of the province’s vaccination targets to date have been with people over 50.
“This is why in retrospect, in hindsight, we probably should have had a two-pronged approach where we’re vaccinating the younger, the very old and very immunocompromised,” said Firas Khalid.
As of Monday, those aged 18-49 in Ontario can only get vaccinated in some of the 34 public health regions if they live in a designated hot spot.
So far, Hamilton has not opened up it’s age of eligibility for anyone under 50, with exceptions for health care workers, some educators and indigenous populations.
Doug Ford said on Monday the province expects to have about 40 per cent of the population immunized by the end of the current four-week stay-at-home order, far below the assumed 60 to 70 per cent needed for community immunity or herd immunity suggested by public health Canada.
“That’s a really, really tough target to meet, but we are going to meet it, considering the supply of vaccines that we have,” Ford said.
Over 3.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Ontario as of April 12. Hamilton has given out just over 133,000 shots as of Sunday.
Hamilton public health records 2 deaths, 1 new outbreak
Hamilton reported two more deaths tied to the coronavirus on Monday, a resident in their 60s and another in their 70s.
The city has now had 334 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began.
Pubic health reported just a single new outbreak, as of Sunday, at a Harvey’s restaurant in the city’s east-end. The surge involves two cases among workers.
An outbreak at the Providence Canadian Reformed Church was closed on Sunday after 12 days. That instance involved 12 patrons.
There are now 48 outbreaks tied to 306 cases as of Monday.
The city’s two hospital systems have a combined 103 patients being treated for COVID-19 — 68 at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) facilities and 35 at St. Joe’s.
St. Joe’s hospitals are reporting acute care occupancy at 92 per cent as of Monday with HHS reporting 90 per cent occupancy.
Three area hospitals are experiencing outbreaks, which have accounted for 46 cases since mid-March and six virus-related deaths.
There have now been 14,238 total coronavirus cases locally since the pandemic began last year.View link »