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COVID-19 numbers still heading upwards despite lockdown, says Kingston MOH

Kingston's medical officer of health says it's 'disconcerting' to see case counts continue to rise while the region remains under the stay-at-home order. Kraig Krause / Global News

Kingston’s medical officer of health is urging continued adherence to stay-at-home orders as the region’s COVID-19 numbers hover in the red zone despite the stay-at-home order.

Thursday, the health unit reported 11 new cases, with six recoveries, leaving active cases at 81.

Read more: Kingston’s Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine supply expected to double by next month

“That’s still heading upwards instead of downwards, despite being in a lockdown situation and despite everyone trying to stay to their household,” Moore said.

Traditionally, the Kingston region’s case numbers have responded well to lockdown measures. Moore said now, with variants, even stay-at-home measures are not completely effective against local transmission.

He added that the active case distribution was everywhere across the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington region, including in Kingston, Napanee, Sydenham, Verona, Odessa, Westbrook, Amherstview, Harrowsmith, Newburg, Inverary, Camden East and Glenburnie.

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“We’re just one dinner, one social event away from having a spreading event and continuing to have our numbers go up,” Moore said.

As it stands now, the most transmission locally is coming from travel outside the region.

Case rates are significantly higher in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa, but even travel in the southeastern region to nearby Hastings Prince Edward County or Leeds, Grenville and Lanark offers some risk, Moore says.

He said that recently, people have been travelling for work, some snowbirds have returned, and some have caught the disease either travelling to pick their children up from post-secondary school or by having these students returning home.

He said the next-biggest risk is small social gatherings.

“Whether it’s in the backyard or among family, we’re seeing transmission,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Ontario opens COVID-19 vaccine bookings for adults 55+ on April 30, anticipates 18+ eligibility by end of May' Ontario opens COVID-19 vaccine bookings for adults 55+ on April 30, anticipates 18+ eligibility by end of May
Ontario opens COVID-19 vaccine bookings for adults 55+ on April 30, anticipates 18+ eligibility by end of May

As of Thursday, there are two local people in Kingston hospitals, one of whom is ventilated.

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According to Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s COVID-19 dashboard, local hospitals are caring for 37 COVID-19 patients, 32 are from out of the southeastern region and 19 are in intensive care beds.

Ontario’s stay-at-home order is set to expire May 19. Moore said if the order was to be lifted in the Kingston region Thursday, the region’s rate would fall into the provincial red zone, which would be a limited reopening at best.

Still, by the end of May, Moore expects vaccinations to be ramped up considerably, which he said will offer added protection in the community.

As of Thursday, nearly 42 per cent of those in KFL&A have received their first dose of their vaccine. Moore announced earlier this week that he anticipated receiving more than 9,300 doses of Pfizer a week starting May 17.

The province also announced that by May 24, vaccination bookings could be open to all adults 18 and above.

Read more: Ontario expects everyone 18 and over to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by end of May

“Let’s say the economy does open in late May, we’ll have a very high level of our community protected with first doses at a bare minimum, which is great,” he said.

Until then, Moore asked people in the KFL&A region to hang in there, continue to keep their social circles small and limit travel outside of the region.

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