Stage 2 considered for EOHU area given ‘acute increases’ in COVID-19 cases

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – As the region experiences “acute increases” in COVID-19 cases in the community, the region’s top doctor is “seriously contemplating” a modified Stage 2 for Cornwall, SD&G and Prescott-Russell.

It would be similar to the restrictions imposed in Ottawa, Peel and Toronto and about to come into play on Monday in York Region. The modified Stage 2 includes closing indoor dining, gyms and fitness centers, arts centers and reducing capacity limits for other event spaces.

The EOHU region added another eight cases Friday to bring the confirmed total to 409 cases, 134 of which are considered active. There are five people in hospital and one of those people is in the intensive care unit (ICU).

While the number of cases have jumped in recent days with 47 residents and staff at five nursing homes in the region testing positive, Roumeliotis says the area is creeping toward what’s considered a “high transmission zone.”

“We are seriously considering and speaking with the ministry and speaking with our partners as to what our next steps would be which may be us going back to Stage 2 as well and this is something we’re in discussions with at this point,” Roumeliotis said Friday.

“Over the last 200 cases, only 47 were due to those long term care facilities. The rest were in the community and so on and looking at our positively rates and I know the government is looking at us and we’re ranked pretty high,” the doctor told Cornwall Newswatch.

The doctor explained a weekly case growth of five per 100,000 people is considered low, and 5-25 is moderate. “If you look at our numbers today, we’re at actually 42 and that includes those long term care facilities. So I want to see the next couple of days where we are. If we’re consistently in the 25 and above range then there is value to actually doing closures of those high risk places.”

Roumeliotis says he met today with Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the wardens of SD&G and Prescott-Russell and Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement to explain the situation.

“My feeling is that, even if I take those 47 cases away from long term care, our numbers would still be up above that 25 zone which will then spark the government to actually impose it on us,” Roumeliotis said.

“We’re really teetering there right now.”