Hamilton reported just 14 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the lowest daily number the city has recorded since Oct. 23 of last year.
Active cases also dropped for the 19th consecutive day to 374 on June 8 from the 407 reported on Monday.
The percentage of Hamilton tests returning from Ontario labs with positive results is still a concern for the city’s medical officer of health as it continues to be one of the highest rates in the province.
As of Tuesday, the city’s percent positivity rate sits at 6.1 per cent which is more than double the province’s average which checked in at 2.7 percent as of June 8.
“That is still concerning in terms of the number of cases that are out there and the per cent positivity,” Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said in the city’s pandemic update on Monday.
“We do want to continue to have people getting vaccinated, doing public health measures as we go forward.”
Richardson said workplace outbreaks and some surges in child cares that remained open during stay-at-home orders may explain some of the increased transmission but she didn’t pinpoint a specific concern.
“Things have been changing over the last several weeks, and that is good news,” Richardson said.
“I think one of the things we want to make sure is that everybody is getting vaccinated and we are moving that vaccine out of our fridges just as soon as it arrives.”
A specialist in the modelling of infectious diseases says Hamilton’s high positivity rate is likely a sign that the city has not reached total “herd immunity” – resistance to the spread of an infectious disease within a population.
Dr. Chris Bauch, a research chair at the University of Waterloo, says he expects Ontario’s case hot spots in the summer to correlate with youth who can’t yet get a vaccine.
“I imagine in the summer we’ll see some outbreaks in summer camps and in the fall, if there’s a hybrid model, there might be some class outbreaks,” said Bauch.
The physician says even if a region does hit herd immunity it doesn’t mean cases will just drop away altogether — they’ll just be fewer and far between.
“With enough people vaccinated, especially in the really vulnerable age categories, as long as we can keep vaccine coverage trending upward, then it means we won’t lock down again,” Bauch said.
Public health reported another 711 tests of Hamiltonians were competed day over day with about 562 completed at test centres in the city.
Hamilton’s reproductive number — the average number of people an infected person is passing COVID-19 on to — is at 0.89 an increase from 0.68 the previous week.
There were no new outbreaks revealed on Tuesday while a pair of surges in central Hamilton were closed at the Conway supportive housing facility and Baywoods Place long-term care home.
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Conway was the larger of the two outbreaks with 14 total cases among seven staffers and seven residents.
Hamilton has 13 active outbreaks as of Tuesday involving 63 total cases. Seven of the surges are at workplaces tied to 22 cases and three at supportive housing operations connected with 15 cases.
Hamilton’s two hospital agencies are reporting 54 COVID-19 patients occupying beds across the city.
St. Joe’s says it has 16 patients with COVID-19, with 13 in intensive care units (ICU).
Hamilton Health Sciences facilities has 38 patients, with 15 in an ICU.
As of Tuesday, there are 390 patients in the province’s ICUs, down by 19 day over day.