WELLINGTON COUNTY – COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) region have decreased over the last week.
Provincial changes narrowing the eligibility for who can access publicly-funded testing to confirm COVID-19 cases have resulted in an underrepresentation of how many active cases there truly are in the province.
On March 3, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said it is estimated that actual COVID cases in the province are estimated to be 10 times the reported cases.
Hospitalizations are now being watched by the province as an indicator of health system impact.
Hospitalization data was last updated on March 13, when there were 11 hospitalized persons testing positive for the virus, down from 15 on March 5.
Of those hospitalized as of Sunday, two were admitted to an ICU in either Guelph or Orangeville.
According to seven-day moving averages reported by WDGPH as of March 13, acute care occupancy levels reached 88.3% and 91.5% in ICUs.
Vaccination statuses of those hospitalized locally are not disclosed, however, at the provincial level they are.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 158 unvaccinated persons hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province, of which 40 are in an ICU.
In contrast, there 444 two-dose vaccinated persons hospitalized across the province, of which 66 are in an ICU.
Considering the vast majority of Ontarians are vaccinated as of March 13 (86% with two doses according to the Ontario Science Table), there will be a larger representation of vaccinated persons in hospitals.
According to science table data, , as of March 13, unvaccinated individuals are almost twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19, about six times more likely to be hospitalized with it and almost nine times more likely to end up in an ICU than those who are vaccinated.
Of the total persons hospitalized in the province, regardless of vaccination status, less than half have been admitted for COVID-related reasons and 51% have been admitted for other reasons and then tested positive for the virus.
COVID’s impact is more pronounced in ICUs, with 77% admitted because of COVID-19 and 23% admitted for other reasons.
As of March 15, there were 259 known active cases of COVID-19 in the region and 76 in Wellington County.
There are 38 confirmed active cases in Dufferin County and 136 in Guelph.
(Active case totals above do not match the total active cases reported within the health unit because some cases haven’t yet been assigned to locations within the health region.)
On March 11, the province altered its definition of a COVID-related death, separating deaths into those incidental to, and those directly cause by, COVID-19.
WDGPH spokesperson Danny Williamson stated to the Advertiser in an email that the data team aligned the local definition of a COVID fatality with the province’s, excluding deaths “where a clear alternative cause that is unrelated to COVID-19 is identified.”
A total of five deaths previously attributed to the virus have been removed from the death toll, correcting the total to 158 deaths in the region (previously 163).
The previously reported death toll of 52 individuals specific to Wellington County remains unchanged.
Since March 8, another 418 people have become two-dose vaccinated in the WDGPH region, bringing the total as of March 15 to 257,271 or 87.2% of the population aged five or older.
There are 8,755 people aged five or older in the region who have received a first dose and 153,976 (57% of the eligible population at least 12 years old) who have received a third dose as of March 15.
In Wellington County 85.8% of eligible residents five and over are two-dose vaccinated and 57.8% of those at least 18 and over have received a third dose as of Tuesday.
Mapleton remains the only municipality in the county with a vaccination uptake of less than 70% of the eligible population. Of those who are vaccinated in the township, less than 40% are vaccinated with three doses. WDGPH does not publicly publish more specific data.
According to WDGPH data as of March 15, 85% of high school students within the health unit’s catchment area, and 51% of eligible elementary students are vaccinated with two doses.
According to the province’s Advisory Science Table data, as of March 14, there were 197 new cases every day per million people in those unvaccinated, and 102 cases per day in those with at least two doses.
The data concludes there’s a 48% reduction in the risk of contracting a case with two vaccine doses.
The reduction in the risk of being hospitalized with two doses is 83%.
Outbreaks in health care settings
As of March 14, there are no longer any active outbreaks at health care facilities within Wellington County.
A previously declared outbreak at Royal Terrace long-term care home in Palmerston in February spread to 17 residents and three staff before ending on March 12.
For public health officials to declare an outbreak over, 14 days must pass since the last symptomatic or positive individual is reported.