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KFL&A COVID-19 cases remain high ahead of Queen’s University Homecoming, election

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KFL&A COVID-19 cases remain high ahead of Queen’s University Homecoming, election
COVID-19 case numbers in the KFL&A region remain elevated as the city prepares for two weekends of raucous university parties and a municipal election – Oct 21, 2022

Cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston area have been trending in the wrong direction in recent weeks.

With a number of large gathering events coming up in the week ahead, health experts remain concerned about the increased risk of transmission.

In late September and early October, COVID-19 numbers in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health region surpassed those seen during the January Omicron wave.

In the past week, there have been five recorded COVID-19-related deaths in the KFL&A region, which accounts for roughly five per cent of the 109 reported province-wide, though the Kingston region accounts for just one per cent of the population in the province.

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Infectious disease specialist Dr. Gerald Evans says that part of that owes to the age demographics in Kingston.

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“Part of that is what we call a demographic skew, so if you look at the population demographics of the local area, there’s a skew towards older people,” said Evans.

This, he said, causes Kingston to appear a bit more prominently in the larger data sets, as there are more people who are more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.

All the more concerning is the fact that there are multiple potential super-spreader events coming up in the community, all in the next week.

This weekend, streets are expected to be filled with students in the university district celebrating “Foco,” or faux-homecoming, the weekend before the sanctioned homecoming events.

Street parties, large gatherings and police presence are frequent and expected as students celebrate en masse.

“I’m probably going to be studying a lot, however, I’m still going to go out, show some face,” said Queen’s University student Trevor Ottoway.

“A couple of plans, couple of houses, little bit of [day party], but, yeah, just going to enjoy time with some friends,” added Nicholas Goosney, also a Queen’s student.
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“Probably just, like, wake up, pre, go to the street,” said Annabelle Howard, who is at Queen’s on an exchange from Australia.

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The students said they aren’t altogether that concerned about the spread of COVID-19 at these events as they’re vaccinated and many are simply just tired of the restrictions.

Sandwiched in between Foco and Homecoming is Monday’s municipal election, which will likely see people flocking to various polling stations throughout the city at a time during which masking is not mandatory inside.

“I would expect that we’d see a modest spike, hopefully it’ll be modest, after these events occur and, if that’s the case, it’ll just contribute to these, sort of, rising numbers,” said Evans.

Evans said that he would put the level of concern around a seven out of 10, or moderate, as there is realistic concern about the spread of the virus through these events, but that it will be a smaller part of the already rising numbers both locally and province-wide.

The current climate of the area’s public health combined with a swath of large gatherings planned in the next week all point to a pivotal week for COVID-19 in and around Kingston.

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