Hamilton reports 19 new COVID-19 cases, EOC boss says come Wednesday ‘we’re not out of this’

The head of Hamilton’s emergency operations centre (EOC) says the province’s green light to allow outdoor concerts, open-air movie screens and performing arts shows starting June 30 doesn’t mean the we’re at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director Paul Johnson says Hamilton joining several of the 30-plus health regions moving to Step 2 of Ontario’s reopening plan on Wednesday is about a balanced opening with new activities but recognizing how fast things can change with the virus still in the community.

Read more: Ontario reports 256 new COVID-19 cases as province hits new record of 246K vaccinations in a day

“We’re not out of this,” Johnson said. “This isn’t that we’ve reached the end and now it’s just ‘how come we can’t do this’ and ‘how can we do this?’ It is about trying to balance reopening.”

Although a number of restrictions will be loosened by Wednesday, Johnson says this step is about expanding outdoor options with some limited indoor happenings.

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“So the big change from an indoor capacity is on a social gathering side — it is permitted to have up to five people gather indoors from a social gathering perspective,” Johnson said.

Other highlights under the second step include:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 50 per cent capacity
  • Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times can open at 25 per cent capacity, with other restrictions
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, permitted at up to 25 per cent capacity of the particular room
  • Outdoor fitness classes permitted, limited to the number of people who can maintain three metres of physical distance
  • Outdoor sports without contact or modified to avoid contact allowed, with no specified limit on number of people or teams participating, with restrictions
  • Overnight camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Outdoor sport facilities with spectators permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • Outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, with spectators, permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways, with spectators, permitted at 25 per cent capacity
  • Outdoor fairs, rural exhibitions and festivals permitted at 25 per cent capacity and with other restrictions

Close to 73% of Hamiltonians have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Johnson says the city is generally “happy” with roughly 73 per cent of Hamiltonians having received at least one vaccine dose as of Friday.

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However, concern is growing in relation to a marked slowdown in the overall vaccination rate — particularly with the population that has not gotten a first dose.

The EOC boss says a public health initiative to get first doses into the arms of those not yet vaccinated will likely dominate the outlet’s activities in the next couple of months.

“Public health is working with community organizations. We have ambassadors now in the field,” said Johnson.

“We have organizations that have taken on the operation of some of these clinics in order to help make sure that we can get people in.”

Read more: All Ontario residents 18 and older can book 2nd COVID-19 shots June 28

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More than 496,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered through Hamilton clinics and pharmacies as of Friday, representing 72.8 per cent of the city’s adult population and 55 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17.

More than 13.5 million total COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Ontario as of Thursday.

There are more than 3.7 million people fully vaccinated with two doses, which equals 30.1 per cent of the adult population.

At least 34.5 million total doses have been administered in Canada to date with 66.78 per cent of people having had at least one dose and 24 per cent now fully vaccinated.

Hamilton reports 19 new COVID-19 cases, bump in reproductive rate

Hamilton reported 19 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and an increase in the city’s coronavirus reproduction number (Rt).

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On Friday, the city’s weekly reproductive number — representing the average number of people an infected person is passing COVID-19 on to  moved from 0.64 to 0.97 as of Friday.

The number is higher than the provincial average, last reported on Tuesday at 0.78.

Read more: Here’s what Step 2 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening road map means for outdoor live events, films

Active cases dropped slightly day over day to 136 on June 25 from 142 the day prior.

More than 73 per cent of the city’s active cases are among people under the age of 50, with about 24 per cent of cases among those aged 19 and under.

The city’s seven-day average case rate dropped slightly by one to 16.

The largest of the city’s recent outbreaks — at the Denholme Manor supportive home — has ended. The surge was declared over on Thursday. The home had 12 total cases during an outbreak that lasted 27 days.

Read more: McMaster researchers working with biotech firm in hopes of creating oral COVID-19 vaccine strip

The city now has just three current outbreaks as of Friday involving 10 total cases.

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As of Thursday, Ontario reported 284 people in hospitals with COVID-19 (down by 11 from the previous day). There are 300 patients in intensive care units, down by five day over day.

The number of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals moved up slightly day over day by five to 34 combined cases at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) and St. Joe’s.

HHS has 22 COVID-19 patients as of Friday with eight in intensive care (ICU). St. Joe’s has 12 COVID-19 cases, all in ICUs.

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