According to data tracked by the Ontario Science Table, the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) region has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the province.
“Kingston may very well now be one of the more hazardous places in Ontario, if not Canada, right now for COVID,” says infectious disease specialist Dr. Dick Zoutman.
He says he’s not surprised by the high rates of COVID in the region, but said Kingstonians need to act.
“For example, wearing masks. They’re easy to do, they don’t cost very much, they’re incredibly safe.”
According to Zoutman, wearing a surgical mask provides a 65-per cent reduction in risk of getting COVID. An N-95 mask provides 83 per cent reduction in COVID risk.
“Those of us who have followed this closely unfortunately realize that this is where this was going to go,” says Zoutman. “When we lifted the requirement for masking on the 21st of March, we all knew what was going to happen. It was very clear.”
And many Kingstonians agree with his sentiment.
“At the end of the day it’s not just me, you know, I want to keep others safe,” says Kingston resident Shasha Wijeratne. “And I’d hope that others have the same mentality of wanting to keep me safe.”
KFL&A Medical Officer of Health Dr. Piotr Oglaza says there is no “consistent evidence” that the rate of infection has increased because the mask mandates were removed, but does still recommend masks while indoors.
“We are monitoring closely the progression of this new wave and to date, evidence suggests that it is behaving differently, in terms of rate of increase and severity, compared to previous waves,” Oglaza says in a statement.
“We are still experiencing an increase of transmission in our community, however, since last week, our hospitalizations have again decreased.”
Zoutman says the case count being reported is a gross understatement of what is going on.
He goes on to say that masking, vaccines and ventilation, among other health and safety measures, are ways people can protect the community.