Caressant Care outbreaks worsen but active COVID-19 cases in region drop

Williamson: COVID-19 numbers 'trending in the right direction' but 'still nowhere close to where we need to be'

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The most recent public health statistics indicate lockdown provisions are helping the region turn a corner, with active COVID-19 cases in the community dropping.

But at the same time, Wellington County has had four COVID-related deaths in one week, three of them linked to serious outbreaks at Caressant Care Arthur.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) spokesperson Danny Williamson confirmed two women, aged 81 and 96, and a man, 90, died at the Arthur facility within the last week.

The fourth death, reported by public health on Jan. 20, was a woman, 89, who died on Jan. 11.

“The reality is COVID is real, it is serious and people die from it,” said Williamson on Jan. 19.

“Every single one of those deaths is tragic, whether the person is in their 20s or their 90s.”

The four recent deaths bring the county’s COVID-related death toll to 11. Nine of the fatal cases have occurred since the start of November.

Caressant Care Arthur

As of Jan. 20, there have been five deaths linked to two outbreaks at Caressant Care Arthur.

Public health is reporting 93 staff/resident cases at the facility, split between long-term care (32 resident cases, including four deaths, and 24 staff cases) and its retirement home (25 resident cases, including one death, and 12 staff cases).

In the last two weeks alone, Caressant Care Arthur has reported over 40 new cases and four long-term care deaths.

On Jan. 13, the province announced North Wellington Health Care (NWHC), which operates hospitals in Mount Forest and Palmerston, was taking over management of the Caressant Care long-term care portion of the facility to try to get that outbreak under control.

Williamson said public health officials are working with NWHC and Caressant Care staff on infection prevention and control measures and also on managing cases.

He explained the best way to help prevent/control outbreaks in hospitals or LTC facilities is to ensure community transmission is low.

“We all have a role to play,” he said, stressing residents should follow public health protocols and provincial lockdown rules.

Local cases

A Jan. 18 update from WDGPH stated Wellington County had 45 new cases last weekend (Jan. 15 to 17) and reached a record-high 108 active cases. The next two days the county added 10 new cases and on Jan. 20 active cases had fallen to 94 and five people were hospitalized with the virus.

Wellington County’s seven-day average for daily cases, which is often used to indicate trends, was 11.29 on Jan. 20. One month ago it was 9.71.

Municipality-specific cases in the county, as of Jan. 20, are as follows:

  • 40 in Wellington North;
  • 16 in Centre Wellington;
  • 12 in Minto;
  • nine each in Erin and Guelph-Eramosa;
  • five in Puslinch; and
  • three in Mapleton.

Most of the Wellington North cases can be attributed to two COVID-19 outbreaks at Caressant Care Arthur, which to-date have affected 57 residents and 36 staff in total.

(Reporting is based on residency, so staff members living outside the township will not be included in Wellington North figures).

As of Jan. 20, the City of Guelph had the most active cases in the region at 264 (110 reported last weekend and 59 combined Monday/Tuesday) and four hospitalizations.

Dufferin County had 39 active cases (25 reported last weekend and eight combined on Monday/Tuesday) with two people in hospital.

Regional cases, trends

Last weekend WDGPH reported 176 new COVID-19 cases across the region. That is the first decrease in weekend cases in some time – and down from the record of 192 set on Jan. 11.

As of Jan. 20, WDGPH was reporting 416 active cases in the region, down significantly from a high of 489 on Jan. 11.

Several regional COVID-19 indicators also appear to be trending in the right direction, after a troubling month or so.

The latest case rate per 100,000 population is 115.9 and the test positivity rate is 4.2%. On Jan. 11 those figures were 149.2.6 and 5.9% respectively.

WDGPH’s effective reproductive rate – the average number of people one person with COVID-19 will infect – was at 0.96 on Jan. 20. Health experts say the figure needs to be below 1.0 for the number of cases to drop.

Williamson acknowledged “the numbers are trending in the right direction,” but he cautioned against complacency.

“It’s proving what we’re doing is working and we should continue to do it,” he said.

“We’re still nowhere close to where we need to be in terms of getting this wave under control.”


There are currently 14 facility outbreaks in the WDGPH region, half of them in Wellington County:

  • Caressant Care Arthur (retirement home), 25 resident cases, 12 staff cases and one resident death, declared on Dec. 12;
  • Wellington Terrace Long-Term Care in Aboyne, 11 staff, declared on Dec. 12;
  • Caressant Care Arthur (long-term care), 32 residents, 24 staff, four resident deaths, declared on Dec. 26;
  • Strathcona Long-Term Care in Mount Forest, one staff, declared on Jan. 7;
  • Caressant Care Harriston (retirement home), one staff, declared on Jan. 10;
  • Caressant Care Harriston (long-term care, second floor), one staff, declared on Jan. 12; and
  • Morriston Park (long-term care) in Puslinch, one staff, declared on Jan. 15.