With new COVID-19 cases diminishing in Waterloo Region, its medical officer of health says she will provide an update later this week on when the area will move into Step 2 of the provincial reopening plan.
“Our situation remains precarious, but we are moving in the right direction,” Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang told the board of health on Tuesday evening.
“We will continue to watch the trends and I expect to be able to share more on Step 2 later this week.”
A few hours earlier, Waterloo Public Health announced just 12 new COVID-19 cases, a number far below any other the agency has reported this calendar year.
That said, COVID-19 hospitalization rates remain high in the area, although the region’s top doctor noted that these seemed to be stabilizing somewhat.
On June 24, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the province would be moving into Step 2 on July 2, but within hours of the announcement, Wang said the region would remain in Step 1 for the foreseeable future.
“The additional two weeks in Step 1 was a strategic decision to protect our community and to give us the best chance of continuing to move forward and not have to take a step back in our reopening steps,” Wang said Tuesday.
Part of the reason for the decline in case rates has been a rise in the number of vaccinations in the area since it was declared a Delta hot spot on June 10.
“Since being designated a Delta hot spot in June, our vaccination rates have increased rapidly,” Wang said.
“For adults 18 and over, first-dose coverage has increased from 58.6 per cent to 79.6 per cent. Second-dose coverage has increased from 6.3 per cent to 43 per cent.”
Read more: Doug Ford says next steps in Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan to be announced within 3 weeks
Ford announced on Monday that he will be providing details in the next few weeks about what the next steps are in reopening.
“We’ll be working with the health team. We’ll be rolling that out shortly over the next three weeks. We want to get to Step 3. I know everyone is quite happy in Step 2,” he said.
Wang indicated Tuesday that Waterloo Region will be in lockstep with the rest of the province.
“That has been the goal since the beginning, with the strategic temporary delay of movement into Step 2, to give our community the best chance to move into to Step 2, as soon as we are able to and then continue to move along with the province in the reopening phases thereafter,” Wang said.
—With files from Global News’ Nick Westoll
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