WELLINGTON COUNTY – The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) region has remained steady over the past week, but intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have reached an all-time high.
There were 920 active cases throughout the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health region on Jan. 24, with 285 newly confirmed cases over the weekend (Jan. 21 to 24).
An all-time high of 2,972 cases was set on Jan. 4.
As of Monday, Wellington County is home to 269 active cases, of which 103 are new.
There are 208 cases active in Dufferin County and 402 in Guelph.
(Active case totals above may not necessarily match the total active cases reported within the health unit because some cases haven’t yet been assigned to localities within the health region.)
It is important to note provincial changes have narrowed the eligibility for who can access publicly-funded testing to confirm COVID-19 cases in the province.
And without population-wide, confirmatory lab testing of swabbed samples, health officials have no way of knowing how many positive cases are truly active in the province.
Public Health Ontario has stated current case counts are an underrepresentation of the “true number of individuals with COVID-19” and that case data should be interpreted with caution.
It’s unknown if Ontarians have seen the “hundreds of thousands of cases every single day” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province could potentially be home to during a post-holiday press conference, however, measured cases have continued to climb since the beginning of the pandemic, surpassing a cumulative total of one-million throughout the province on Jan. 24.
Rather than focus on case numbers, the province’s top doctor, Kieran Moore, stated on Jan. 3 that the province would instead keep an eye on hospitalization data to gauge the impact of the Omicron variant on the health system.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the region (including the three Wellington hospitals as well as those in Orangeville and Guelph) was 45 on Jan. 22, down from 49 the previous day but up from 43 one week ago.
Of the 45 individuals currently hospitalized in the region, 31 are in acute care and an all-time high of 14 are admitted to an ICU in either Guelph or Orangeville. One week ago 10 people were in an ICU.
According to seven-day moving averages reported by WDGPH, acute care occupancy levels reached 90% on Saturday and 81.5% in ICUs.
Vaccination statuses of those hospitalized are not disclosed locally.
However, according to provincial data, as of Monday morning, there are 999 unvaccinated persons hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province, of which 216 are in an ICU.
In contrast, there are 2,306 two-dose vaccinated persons hospitalized across the province, of which 227 are in an ICU.
Considering about 83% of eligible Ontarians are vaccinated with at least two doses as of Jan. 23, data from the Ontario Science Table indicates that as of Jan. 24, unvaccinated individuals are over five times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and over 12 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, 56% have been admitted because of COVID-19 related related reasons, with the remaining 44% testing positive for the virus, but admitted for non-COVID-related reasons.
For ICUs, 81% are admitted because of COVID-19, whereas 19% are admitted for other reasons.
Deaths attributed to COVID-19
Since last week, WDGPH has reported an addition two COVID-related deaths in the region.
As of Jan. 24, the death total has risen to 135 people, including 42 in the county.
WDGPH spokesperson Danny Williamson confirmed a Wellington County man in his 80s and a Guelph female in her 80s, had their deaths attributed to the virus.
Wellington County communications manager Andrea Ravensdale also confirmed an earlier COVID-related death of a resident at the county-owned and operated Wellington Terrace Long-Term Care home, during a recent outbreak.
“The loss of a resident is always extremely difficult, especially under these circumstances. Wellington Terrace wishes to express deep sympathy to family and loved ones of our resident,” an emailed statement read.
Since Jan. 17, another 1,376 people have become two-dose vaccinated in the WDGPH region, bringing the total as of Jan. 24 to 247,852 or 84% of the population aged five or older.
There are 15,368 people aged five or older in the region who have received a first dose and 136,268 (46% of the eligible population at least 18 years old) who have received a third dose as of Jan. 24.
In Wellington County 83% of eligible residents five and over are two-dose vaccinated and 57% of those at least 18 and over have received a third dose as of Jan. 24.
Less than 70% of residents in Mapleton are vaccinated, and it remains the only municipality within the county below that threshold.
According to the province’s Advisory Science Table data, as of Jan. 24, there were 664 new cases every day per million people in those unvaccinated, and 329 cases per day in those with at least two doses.
The data concludes there’s a 50.5% reduction in the risk of contracting a case with two vaccine doses.
The reduction in the risk of being hospitalized with two doses is 82%.
Vaccinations among student populations
Across the region, according to WDGPH data as of Jan. 24, there are an estimated 11,515 high school students who are vaccinated with two doses, 283 with only a single dose, and 1,953 students who have not yet received a single dose.
In elementary schools in the WDGPH catchment area, there are an estimated 30,024 students who are now eligible for vaccination, according to WDGPH data as of Jan. 24.
Of that group, 9,368 elementary students are at least vaccinated with a single dose, and 9,277 are two-dose vaccinated.
The remaining 11,379 students have not yet received a single dose.
Outbreaks in health care settings
An outbreak at Wellington Terrace long-term care home previously declared on Dec. 28 was declared over by WDGPH on Jan. 20.
According to county communications manager Andrea Ravensdale, there were 10 residents diagnosed with COVID-19 during the outbreak, which was confined to “a single neighbourhood within the home.”
“It appears that the staff cases were acquired through community spread … outside of our home,” Ravensdale stated in an email.
Afflicted residents experienced “mild to moderate symptoms” according to Ravensdale, who provided fever and chest congestion as examples of symptoms.
Confirmatory PCR testing is available to residents in long-term care settings and patient-facing health care workers.
For public health officials to declare an outbreak over, 14 days must pass since the last symptomatic or positive individual is reported.