Cornwall ‘likely’ highest per capita COVID-19 cases in Ontario: Roumeliotis

EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis explains a chart during a Zoom media briefing on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 that shows the rate of weak vaccination uptake among some areas of Cornwall and Hawkesbury. Roumeliotis says it's likely Cornwall has the highest per capita average of cases in Ontario. (EOHU/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – The region’s top doctor says Cornwall is a hot spot and likely has the highest average number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in all of Ontario.

In his weekly news conference Monday, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says the overall Eastern Ontario Health Unit area is second, sandwiched between Chatham-Kent at the top and Windsor-Essex in third spot.

“That’s a race I don’t want to be winning. Unfortunately, that’s the situation,” Roumeliotis said.

As of Monday, the seven-day rolling average for City of Cornwall cases was 209 while the EOHU was 76 per 100,000 people.

A combination of the virus spreading among the unvaccinated, a high positivity rate and weak uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in Cornwall and Hawkesbury are believed to be playing a role.

While the average number of people with a first dose of vaccine is nearly 88 per cent, Cornwall and Hawkesbury residents aren’t getting the shot as much. Cornwall is just under 75 per cent (K6J postal code) and 81 per cent (K6J postal area). Hawkesbury is just under 77 per cent (K6A postal code).

The numbers are even lower for second doses. Just over 81 per cent in the EOHU area have a second dose of vaccine. Cornwall is just over 67 per cent (K6H) and 73 per cent (K6J). Hawkesbury is just over 71 per cent in the K6A.

The positivity rate in the areas around Cornwall – 7.6 per cent (K6H), 7.0 per cent (K6K), 5.3 per cent (K6J) – are far above the provincial average of 2 per cent.

Roumeliotis says cases went up “significantly” over the weekend and there was a “sharp increase” with 74 newly confirmed cases – 60 per cent of those in Cornwall. There are 193 active cases with over 85 per cent unvaccinated.

There are eight people in hospital – six in Cornwall and two in Ottawa – with four in the ICU. “All of our cases now that are hospitalized unfortunately are unvaccinated,” Roumeliotis said.

“That’s the story that repeats itself over and over again,” the doctor said.

There are 38 schools in the region with positive cases and seven outbreaks.

Addressing testing issues, Roumeliotis told Cornwall Newswatch they are looking at ways to help overwhelmed hospitals. “We’re working with our EMS partners. We have physicians who are able to come in so we’re doing a few things. Cornwall hospital…is working on weekends as well.” The doctor adds that are talking to the Local Health Integration Network and also looking at portable tests that parents could take home and do the test themselves.

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