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Hamilton reports 91 new COVID-19 cases, public health updates city’s vaccination campaigns

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Infectious diseases expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch says Ontario could be looking at a one-dose summer as rapid testing and vaccination efforts help bring COVID-19 numbers down. – May 17, 2021

Hamilton public health is reporting that the rate of daily COVID-19 vaccinations in the city has been surpassing the 4,000 mark in recent days, and that only a pair of high-risk postal codes are falling below the city’s average of doses administered.

On Monday, a board of health briefing on the pandemic revealed the city’s vaccination efforts have reached about 34.1 per cent of the entire population (590,179) as of early last week.

Areas with the highest coverage rates include the L9H postal code in Dundas, L9G and L9K in Ancaster and L9C on the west Mountain – all of which have seen over 40 per cent of their populations receive at least one dose.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 2,100 new COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths

Of the five COVID-19 ‘hot spots’ identified by the city, two central Hamilton communities are below the average.

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L8N, which is roughly surrounded by James Street in the west, Wentworth Street in the East, King Street East to the north and both the Sherman and Claremont accesses, has about 32.7 per cent of its 16,000 residents vaccinated.

L8L, which encompasses much of central Hamilton from King Street East to the waterfront and Bayfront Park to Ottawa Street, is lagging behind with only 28.4 per cent or 9,000 of its estimated 34,000 people having received a shot as of early last week.

The city’s medical officer of health says part of the issue was Queen’s Park’s decision to allocate 50 per cent of Ontario’s shipments to provincial hot spots in Peel, Toronto and York.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said although the L8N and L8L areas are behind, they have seen some of the highest gains in vaccination coverage “over the last many days.”

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Public health is working on a campaign to increase those numbers with its vaccine readiness network, which is expected to use ambassadors to make information about the shots more accessible to residents with questions.

Hamilton has administered about 247,000 doses as of Sunday, which equates to 48.1 per cent of the eligible population over 18 having had at least one shot.

The leading shot is Pfizer with over 167,000 doses put into the arms of Hamiltonians. Moderna and AstraZeneca have had 34,000 and 35,000 doses used, respectively.

As of Monday, the province said over 7.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to residents.

Public health addresses vaccine hesitancy-tied apartment outbreak

During the board of health update, downtown councillor Jason Farr addressed concerns over a report that only 41 residents from the large outbreak at Rebecca Towers actually went to vaccine appointments offered by the city at First Ontario Centre last week.

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Occupants of the complex, which has recorded 110 total infections in a surge declared on May 3, were given the option of taking one of 300 vaccination spots offered by the city over the weekend.

Michelle Baird, director of operations for public health, confirmed 41 residents did get vaccinations at First Ontario and that another 28 took the city up on a mobile vaccination clinic deployed to the residence in recent days.

Baird said there were “some concerns” over the vaccines, with some recipients at the stop tied to making decisions “in the moment” without a family doctor and barriers like transportation.

“Some individuals, of course, that have underlying health conditions, in a moment it’s difficult to make that decision as opposed to speaking with their family doctor and nurse,” Baird said.

The director suggested the resolution to the problem is likely to come in the form of offering more vaccine appointments and giving residents more time and information to make a decision.

Of the three downtown apartment buildings experiencing outbreaks, cases at Wellington Place almost doubled over the weekend, moving from 22 reported cases on Friday to 42 on Monday.

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There were four more cases reported at The Village Apartments on Queen Street North, which moved from 65 on Friday to 69 on Monday. The outbreak, declared on May 10, involves 69 residents and a staff member.

Read more: Ontario expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone 18 and up, starting Tuesday

The three complexes have a combined 221 total cases in their outbreak.

Mass testing conducted by paramedics covered about 1,100 residents at all three locations last week and revealed that 50 per cent of residents were asymptomatic over the three apartments.

Baird said the investigation revealed that 68 per cent of cases had been acquired through socializing among households.

She says the challenge in controlling spread in the buildings surrounds demographics since residents are typically essential workers and the elderly.

“Many residents who live here, in fact, are part of our essential workforce and they rely on family and friends for child care, elder care, support, help with groceries and etc.,” Baird said.

“So they’re unable to remain at home, and minimizing contact overall is a challenge.”

Testing at the three outbreaks also suggested how many more cases there may be in these settings since asymptomatic individuals are typically not tested unless they were exposed to a contact-traced case.

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“But if we were to conduct this level of testing across the city, we will we would very much see higher numbers elsewhere as well,” said Baird.

Hamilton reports 91 new COVID-19 cases

Hamilton reported 91 new COVID-19 infections on Monday.

The city’s active cases are still under 1,000 as of Monday, 962, after dropping to 967 on May 14.

Read more: 4.5 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna vaccines coming to Canada this week

There was one new outbreak reported on Sunday at Hamilton Downtown Family YMCA Men’s Residence involving a single case with a resident.

Three surges were closed on the weekend at Rygiel Supports for Community Living on the South Mountain, the Medallion Corporation Office and a Tim Hortons on King Street East near Centennial Parkway South.

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Two of the outbreaks, Rygiel Supports and Tim Hortons, involved three cases each. The outbreak at the Medallion Corporation had just a pair of cases among workers.

As of May 15, the city has 20 outbreaks in workplaces involving more than 150 total cases.

Hamilton has 38 total outbreaks in the city as of May 17 involving over 500 people.

There are 111 patients with COVID-19 in Hamilton hospitals as of May 14. Hamilton Health Sciences says they have 75 patients, with 35 in intensive care units (ICU) and St. Joe’s 36 patients, with 27 of those in an ICU.

St. Joe’s says its normal ICU occupancy rate is at 118 per cent as of Monday, while HHS facilities are at 119 per cent.

The city’s reproductive number is below 1.0 as of Monday at 0.82, which suggests the spread of the virus within the community has been contained.

Read more: Biden commits to sharing 80M COVID-19 vaccine doses with world in coming weeks

The seven-day moving average of cases was at 115 as of Saturday.

The percentage of Hamilton tests returning from Ontario labs as positive for COVID-19 dropped again on Monday to 7.3 per cent, down from 7.4 per cent reported Friday.

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The rate is on par with the province’s last reported daily number, which was at 7.9 per cent.

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