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Saturday, June 19, 2021

COVID-19: Here’s the situation in the Sault this week Update

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This week, new COVID-19 cases in the province have ranged from a low of 1,039 to a high of 1,794.

Here’s the latest on new cases in Algoma

Over the last week, APH has reported 10 new cases of COVID-19, as well as two deaths in the region.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers from Algoma Public Health, updated at 4:00 p.m. yesterday:

  • 143,371 tested
  • 392 confirmed
  • 21 active cases
  • 3 (3)* currently hospitalized
  • 371 resolved
  • 6 deceased
  • 97 cases screened positive for variants of concern

Algoma Public Health is reporting that recent results from additional laboratory testing have detected the following VOCs in Algoma:

  • B.1.1.7, first detected in the UK
  • P.1, first detected in Brazil

Currently, there is one active outbreak at the Ontario Finnish Resthome.

According to data on howsmyflattening.ca, a University of Toronto-led website which collects and analyzes data from Ontario’s COVID-19 cases, 62 per cent of ICU beds in Algoma Public Health’s jurisdiction are currently occupied, one of which is a COVID-19 patient.

The data also describes the community risk level for COVID-19 in our region as ‘low.’

Total confirmed cases by area of residence:

  • 309 in Sault Ste. Marie and area
  • 51 in central and east Algoma
  • 28 in Elliot Lake and area
  • 4 in north Algoma

Comparatively, in Chippewa County, which covers Sault Ste. Marie Mich. and surrounding area, the COVID-19 data as of Wednesday states:

  • 2,473 cumulative positives
  • 2,337 cumulative recovered
  • 33 deaths
  • 0 cases currently hospitalized

Here’s the latest on COVID-19 vaccinations in Algoma

Algoma Public Health is continuing in phase two of Ontario’s 3 Phase Vaccine Distribution Program. As of yesterday at 11:40 a.m.:

  • 57,911 total doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered
  • 45,917 people have received their first dose only (2.9 per cent of youth 12-17 have received at least one dose)
  • 5,997 people are fully vaccinated (5.9 per cent of eligible population)
  • 51,914 people have received at least one dose (45.4 per cent of the population or 51.1 per cent of the eligible population)

Algoma youth, their families, and caregivers can now pre-register for their COVID-19 vaccine.

Over the weekend, Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout expanded, allowing youth aged 12+ to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Algoma Public Health is now allowing the above groups to pre-register.

The health unit has also announced that community members who received their first dose at GFL Memorial Gardens on March 5, 6, 7, and 13 are now eligible for their second dose.

In terms of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Ontario is reporting its first blood clot death in a vaccine recipient. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate medical officer of health, said a man in his 40s who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the end of April passed away a few weeks later.

While the death is still being investigated, Yaffe said it’s been confirmed that the man had vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, also known as VITT, at the time.

Ontarians will have option for ‘accelerated’ second COVID-19 vaccine doses

The province’s vaccine distribution task force has announced a new plan to allow Ontarians to get their second dose of vaccine sooner than expected.

The plan allows Ontarians to rebook “accelerated” second dose appointments (for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) as soon as 28 days after their first dose, where appointment availability and eligibility allows.

Outdoor visits permitted at long-term care homes

Friends and family can now visit outdoors with Ontario long-term care residents.

Homes are being asked to communicate with communities about how to book visits and about public health measures still in effect, such as masks and physical distancing.

A maximum of two general visitors are allowed per resident at one time, in addition to designated essential caregivers.

Northern Ontario has had the highest opioid death rate in the province during COVID-19

As the opioid crisis continues in Sudbury, the region’s Board of Health has unanimously endorsed a motion to have Public Health Sudbury & Districts team up with other northern health units to find a way to stop the growing number of opioid overdoses in communities across Northern Ontario.

The motion will see Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health for Public Health Sudbury, work with her counterparts at health units across the North.

“During the pandemic, the rate of opioid-related deaths has increased in half of the 34 public health units in Ontario,” said Josée Joliat, a public health nurse in mental health and addictions with the PHSD’s Health Promotion Division.

She said this has especially impacted Northern Ontario health units.

Joliat said this is believed in part to be due to the lower availability of health-related services in rural and remote regions, as well as isolation making it more difficult for people to reach out and access services.

Saturday marked fourth ‘Bellevue Park Stand For Freedom’ event, protestors receive fines and summons

Sault Ste. Marie Police Service officers issued fines and at least one summons to appear in court at a Bellevue Park Stand For Freedom event Saturday.

It was the fourth consecutive weekly rally at the park since April 30, consisting of citizens voicing their displeasure with COVID-19 lockdowns and other restrictions under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

In an unrelated gathering, police anticipate fines for attendees at a ‘heavily attended’ Hughes St. event last weekend.

Border reopening, economic revival depends on vaccination rate: MP Sheehan

Sault MP Terry Sheehan told a virtual Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce members audience Friday that while he understands the concerns of the Sault and area tourism sector, hard-hit by COVID-19 travel restrictions, the reopening of all sectors of the economy depends largely on vaccination rates.

Sheehan said the federal government, in its most recent budget, has provided $1 billion in funding for the Canadian tourism industry, for COVID relief and to prepare for when the border and economy fully reopen.

Check out how one Sault family is making the most of lockdown

Working and learning from home during the COVID-19 lockdowns, including the current stay at home order, has been a challenge for all families.

Parents must perform their jobs from home while their children learn remotely, vying for computer time and spending much of their after work, after school lives indoors.

While that can be tough, the Zagordo family – father Rob, mother Heidi (both St. Mary’s College teachers), daughters Gracee (a Grade 11 St. Mary’s College student) and Gabbe (a University of Windsor student, studying remotely from home in the Sault) – have adapted well to the pros and cons of it all.

Trying new recipes, new hobbies, enlightening documentaries, and increased family time have helped the family realize how fortunate they are to have each other. Read more about the Zagordos’ experience here.

Long-term care sector worried for the future as staffing levels dwindle

More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed death and despair into Ontario’s long-term care homes, the situation is gradually improving.

But there is still a crisis looming for the future of long-term care in the province. That crisis? Not having enough staff.

That was one of the issues defined by Donna Duncan, CEO of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association (OLTCA), who held a technical media briefing last week to discuss capacity issues and partnerships with hospitals.

Read more from Local Journalism Initiative reporter Len Gillis here.

Will schools reopen this year?

The impact of COVID-19 variants and relatively low rates of vaccinated teachers and students raises serious concerns about reopening schools, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Thursday, as he sought last-minute advice on whether to resume in-person learning for the final month of the academic year.

In an open letter, which sparked criticism the premier was ducking his decision-making responsibility,  Ford asked dozens of recipients whether returning to physical classrooms could be done safely.

The letter poses seven COVID-19 safety-related questions for doctors, scientists, public health authorities and teacher unions. It notes a lack of consensus on how, when and whether schools should reopen.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s top doctor said Tuesday he would like to see students return to their classrooms before the province starts reopening in mid-June.

Dr. David Williams made the comments on the same day as a group of researchers studying the effects of the pandemic on children warned of “a generational catastrophe.”

Williams said most public health units in the province support the reopening of schools, which have been shut to in-person learning since early- to mid-April.

Mother ‘ecstatic’ son with autism can return to school

Under Ontario’s current COVID-19 pandemic stay at home order, almost all elementary and secondary school students, staff and teachers are restricted to learning or working remotely from home, with the exception of special education students who need that in person interaction with teachers and educational assistants (EAs).

Lisa Reid, 11-year-old Aaron Palaro’s mother, was shocked and disappointed to learn her son, despite autism, would not be allowed to attend school when the province’s stay at home order went into effect April 8.

Reid said the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (H-SCDSB) informed her that Aaron did not meet the criteria needed for special education students to receive in person instruction.

Reid said she experienced frustration in her attempt to reach Holy Cross and Huron-Superior officials in an appeal to get her son back into the classroom, and on Thursday last week, she learned from the board that her son would be permitted to return to school for in-person learning starting this week.

Canadians in Japan say Olympics should be cancelled

Canadian Jordan Dallaire-Gagné just wanted to be part of the largest sporting event in the world. Working or volunteering at the Tokyo Olympics was top of mind when the Montrealer moved to Japan a little over a year ago.

But Dallaire-Gagné said the Games should be cancelled as parts of the world face surging waves of COVID-19.

The idea of mostly empty stadiums, devoid of foreign spectators, feels wrong, the Canadians said, adding the focus of the governments, not just in Japan but from countries sending their athletes, should simply be to get through COVID-19.

Calls to cancel the Olympics are growing. Anywhere from 60 to 80 per cent of Japanese residents in polls say it is their wish that the Games be cancelled.

The Olympics open on July 23 followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24.

CFB Borden reserve cadet instructor faces mutiny-related charges for rally participation

A member of the Reserve Cadet Instructor Cadre at CFB Borden, located about 20 minutes west of Barrie, faces the unusual charge of mutiny after appearing at a Toronto rally in December encouraging military members to refuse COVID-19 vaccination.

Officer Cadet Ladislas Kenderesi faces two charges under the National Defence Act, a National Defence spokesperson has confirmed to Sootoday’s sister site, BarrieToday.

One of the charges alleges the accused was trying to persuade another person to join in a mutiny. The second charge alleges the accused was “behaving in a scandalous manner unbecoming of an officer.” Both charges are punishable under the National Defence Act.

Feds get supplied to provinces during COVID-19 despite issues with stockpile, attorney general says

A new audit says the federal government was able to get desperately needed medical equipment to provinces and territories despite long-standing issues plaguing its national emergency stockpile.

Auditor general Karen Hogan said before COVID-19 the Public Health Agency of Canada ignored multiple warnings that its national stockpile of emergency medical supplies wasn’t being properly managed.

“However, when faced with the pressures created by the pandemic, the agency took action,” the audit said.

Laurentian University plans to offer most courses in-person this fall

Laurentian University in Sudbury said late last week that, come the fall, most of its programming will be delivered in person.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have placed the utmost importance on the safety of our community,” Dr. Robert Haché, president and vice-chancellor, said in a news release. “We appreciate that our students want to be learning on campus and we look forward to making this happen in a safe and controlled environment.”

Sudbury’s Health Sciences North ramping elective surgeries back up after COVID-19 delays

Health Sciences North in Sudbury has been given permission to start ramping up surgeries that had been put on a wait-list because of the demands of the pandemic.

It means that the hospital hopes to reach up to 80 per cent of its historical surgical volume beginning the week of May 31, said HSN in its weekly update.

This follows an earlier directive from the province where HSN, and other Ontario hospitals, ramped down surgical activity in anticipation of a surge in the demand for ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds as a result of a spike in COVID cases.

Walk for Dog Guides in full swing, virtually

This May, Canadians from coast to coast joined the Pet Valu Virtual Walk for Dog Guides in support of Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides (LFCDG), a  national charity that provides dog guides at no cost.

The Lions Club of Sault Ste. Marie has been hosting the virtual walk online for the Sault Ste. Marie location.

For more information on the event, click here.

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