COVID-19 cases shifting to residents in long-term care

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Coronavirus outbreaks in Cornwall, SD&G and Prescott-Russell long-term and congregate homes are “equalizing” – shifting away from just infected staff to residents.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, shared the change in the cases fueled by the Omicron variant during a news briefing Wednesday morning.

“Initially, there were more staff rather than residents and now it’s kind of equalizing. We are not getting the kind of hospitalizations or the deaths that we’ve been seeing with previous waves so I think the third dose has some protective factor,” he said.

As of this morning, there were 42 active outbreaks.

It’s part of the reason the health unit is buckling down on giving our third and even fourth doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to those in high-risk settings.

As for the number of active cases – over 3,000 – Roumeliotis says we’ve “never had so many active cases in our area” since the pandemic started in March 2020. The number is high considering lab-confirmed PCR testing is limited to high risk settings and high risk cases. “We’re really under counting the numbers,” Roumeliotis said.

The EOHU also has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of measured cases in Ontario.

As for case positivity rates, while Ontario is averaging about 28 per cent, the EOHU area is around 31-32 and there are problem areas like Cornwall where positivity is as high as 36 per cent.

Roumeliotis says two recent deaths in the community were people in their 90s – one was vaccinated and one was not. There are now 137 deaths since the pandemic began.

The doctor adds 25 people in hospital as of Wednesday morning are due to COVID-19 rather than testing positive for coronavirus while in hospital for another procedure. He says the majority of those in hospital are not vaccinated and “that number gets bigger” when you look at the five people in ICU.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit plans to revamp its website in the next week ago to focused on different metrics than cases. They will be hospital and ICU numbers, outbreaks, test positivity, absenteeism at schools and levels of coronavirus in waste water.