WELLINGTON COUNTY – COVID-19 cases in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) region are up this week, while hospitalizations have decreased slightly.
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.
Since mid-February, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the region has fluctuated between 14 and 21 individuals.
Hospitalization data hasn’t been updated since last week, when there were 15 hospitalized persons testing positive for the virus as of March 5, down from 19 on Feb. 27.
Of those hospitalized as of Saturday, there were six admitted to an ICU in either Guelph or Orangeville.
According to seven-day moving averages reported by WDGPH as of March 5, acute care occupancy levels reached 91.7% and 97.4% in ICUs.
Vaccination statuses of those hospitalized locally are not disclosed, however, at the provincial level they are.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 215 unvaccinated persons hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province, of which 50 are in an ICU.
In contrast, there 479 two-dose vaccinated persons hospitalized across the province, of which 68 are in an ICU.
Considering the vast majority of Ontarians are vaccinated as of March 6 (86% with two doses according to Ontario Science Table data), there will be a larger representation of vaccinated persons in data.
According to science table data, unvaccinated individuals are seven times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and 14 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, 44% have been admitted for COVID-related reasons and 56% have been admitted for other reasons and then tested positive for the virus.
COVID’s impact is more pronounced in ICUs, with 82% admitted because of COVID-19 and 18% admitted for other reasons.
As of March 8, there were 273 known active cases of COVID-19 in the region, with 101 of those cases reported between March 4 and 7.
As of Tuesday, Wellington County is home to 75 known cases, of which 26 are new.
There are 53 confirmed active cases in Dufferin County and 137 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.)
The COVID-attributed death toll has risen to 161 individuals across the health unit as March 8, an increase of two since March 1.
Deaths have been rising steadily since December, with the exception of a week when there was no change.
Of the 161 people who have had their deaths attributed to the virus, 52 are county residents.
Since March 1, another 483 people have become two-dose vaccinated in the WDGPH region, bringing the total as of March 8 to 256,853 or 87% of the population aged five or older.
There are 9,050 people aged five or older in the region who have received a first dose and 153,515 (70% of the eligible population at least 18 years old) who have received a third dose as of March 8.
In Wellington County 85.6% of eligible residents five and over are two-dose vaccinated and 63% of those at least 18 and over have received a third dose as of Tuesday.
Mapleton remains the only municipality in the county with an uptake of less than 70% of the eligible population. Of those who are vaccinated in the township, between 40 and 44% are vaccinated with three doses. WDGPH does not publicly publish more specific data.
According to the province’s Advisory Science Table data, as of March 7, there were 184 new cases every day per million people in those unvaccinated, and 107 cases per day in those with at least two doses.
The data concludes there’s a 42% reduction in the risk of contracting a case with two vaccine doses.
The reduction in the risk of being hospitalized with two doses is 86%.
According to WDGPH data as of March 8, 85.5% of high school students within the health unit’s catchment area, and 50.6% of an eligible 28,608 elementary students are vaccinated with two doses.
Outbreaks in health care settings
As of March 7, there continues to be an active outbreak at the Royal Terrace long-term care home in Palmerston, with 17 residents and three staff testing positive for COVID since the outbreak there was declared on Feb. 5.
A previously declared outbreak on Feb. 22 at Caressant Care long-term care home in Harriston was declared over on March 4.
For public health officials to declare an outbreak over, 14 days must pass since the last symptomatic or positive individual is reported.