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Situation 'improving substantially' at long-term care homes - BarrieToday
Region's medical officer of health says it's time to work on optimal, longer-term approach to testing and COVID-19 surveillance
Simcoe-Muskoka’s medical officer of health hopes the region and the province are turning a corner when it comes to long-term care residents becoming infected with the deadly coronavirus. Since Friday, May 15, there were no additional positive found in long-term care residents in the region. Friday also marked the final day of universal testing in the province, and the health unit reports there were more than 7,000 tests completed on residents and staff in long-term care homes in the region as well as at five emergency child-care centres. While not all the results have come back from that universal testing, Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said things look positive both in the region and in the province. “I touch wood,” he said. “Things improve because of actions taken … it appears things are improving quite substantially.” Through the universal testing mandated by the province, the health unit discovered three positive COVID-19 results in residents at Collingwood Nursing Home. All three of the women were asymptomatic when the positive results were reported. Gardner said one woman is now showing signs of respiratory illness. That was the first time the health unit discovered an outbreak where all those with COVID-19 were not yet showing symptoms of the coronavirus. However, Friday marked the end of universal testing in the region. Though there was talk of further testing once the long-term care facilities were complete, Gardner said the health unit will not be continuing with universal testing of residents in retirement homes or other congregate settings, such as group homes. “If the province directs us, we certainly will,” said Gardner. In the meantime, the health unit is closely monitoring congregate living facilities. If anyone develops symptoms they are tested for COVID-19, and if any cases come back positive, every resident and staff member at the facility will be tested. As health experts predict COVID-19 will be here for the foreseeable future, Gardner said there’s time now to consider longer-term approaches to control measures such as testing. “We have to think about how do we continue to operate testing in the future,” said Gardner. “Will it be through assessment centres or through primary care physicians? "I’m sure our approach is going to change over time, because things don’t stay the same forever. We put together those assessment centres in a rush … now is the time to revise what we do to make it optimal," he said. Gardner said he’s seen a decrease in the demand for testing on a provincial level. And with the universal testing for long-term care facilities now passed, there will not be the same demand for test results unless the province mandates further universal testing in other sectors or in other congregate settings. “My understanding … is there hasn’t been a big uptake from the population,” he said. “You’ve got a falling incidence of infection right now. Perhaps the demand in part is related to a reduction in cases themselves.” Though the demand might be lower right now, Gardner said it’s important to maintain a strong capacity for testing. If cases in Ontario start to increase again as more businesses and sectors of the economy open up, the ability to process tests will be necessary. He also noted the world, in particular Ontario, would have to deal with this coronavirus until a vaccine is developed and gets widespread distribution. “Certainly we would want there to be capacity … if that should happen,” said Gardner. "We have to make sure people can get tested ... we have to have the surveillance to know how well we're controlling the pandemic." In the Simcoe-Muskoka region, there have been 432 cases of COVID-19 confirmed through lab testing. Of those, 303 people have recovered, eight people are in hospital, and 34 people have died.
Two residents at Owen Hill in Barrie died from COVID-19 on the weekend - BarrieToday
There are eight new cases of the coronavirus in Barrie; A city resident has also been hospitalized since Friday
Two Barrie residents died from COVID-19 on the weekend, according to the latest report by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. They are a woman in her 90s and a man in his 60s, both of whom were residents at Owen Hill Care Community. The two deaths reported today are the 11th and 12th victims of the coronavirus from Barrie. Another Barrie resident has also been hospitalized since Friday, according to the health unit. There is has also been a new case of the virus reported in a Collingwood resident, a woman in her 60s, who is believed to have acquired the virus through community transmission. The health unit confirmed 28 new cases of COVID-19 in the region, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the area to 432. In addition to the new Collingwood case, there were eight new cases reported in Barrie: a man in his 30s whose case is related to travel, a girl between the ages of 10 and 19 (close contact), a man in his 50s (close contact), a man in his 40s (close contact), a man in his 60s and a woman in her 40s (both community-acquired), a man in his 40s (under investigation), and a woman in her 20s who is an employee at Owen Hill Care Community, where an outbreak has been declared. Orillia has one new case, a woman in her 50s, who acquired the virus through community transmission. Innisfil has two new cases, a man in his 50s (community-acquired) and a girl between the ages of 10 and 19 (close contact). Bradford West Gwillimbury has one new case, a man in his 30s, whose transmission source was listed as close contact. Essa Township has one new case, a man in his 60s who acquired the virus through community transmission. And Tay Township has two new cases, a woman in her 70s and a man in his 70s. Her case is listed as community-acquired and his is listed as close contact. There were 11 cases reported in residents of New Tecumseth (five were close contact and six were community-acquired) and one man in his 30s whose location information was listed as pending. There have also been 303 recoveries reported, and of those, 40 have been recorded since the health unit’s last report on Friday. Of the total cases reported recovered, there have been 29 residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, and one group home who have recovered. There are eight people hospitalized. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has confirmed a total of 432 cases in residents of the region since the pandemic began. Of those, 303 have recovered and 34 people have died. The breakdown of cases in each municipality, according to the health unit is as follows: Barrie (145 cases, 90 recoveries, 12 deaths, 2 in hospital), Bradford West Gwillimbury (89 cases, 65 recoveries, 12 deaths, 1 in hospital), New Tecumseth (44 cases, 26 recoveries, 2 in hospital, one death), Orillia (16 cases, 13 recoveries, 2 deaths), Collingwood (16 cases, 11 recoveries), Wasaga Beach (11 cases, 10 recoveries, 1 death), Clearview (7 cases, 6 recoveries, one death), Innisfil (30 cases, 26 recoveries), Springwater (8 cases, 5 recoveries, 1 death), Midland (6 cases, all recovered), Oro-Medonte (5 cases, 2 recoveries, 2 deaths, 1 in hospital), Adjala-Tosorontio (7 cases, all recovered), Essa (9 cases, 7 recoveries, 1 death), Ramara (5 cases, 3 recoveries), Tiny (3 cases, 2 recoveries), Tay (5 cases, 3 recoveries, 1 in hospital), Penetanguishene (3 cases, 2 recoveries), and Severn (3 cases, all recovered) for a total of 412 cases in Simcoe County, including 286 recoveries and eight hospitalizations. There are also 19 confirmed positive cases in Muskoka, and 17 have recovered, one person from Muskoka Lakes has died. The case rate (including lab-confirmed cases only) for Simcoe-Muskoka region is 71.9 cases per 100,000 population. The provincial average is 157.3 cases per 100,000 population.
Sixth resident death at Owen Hill Care Community attributed to COVID-19 - BarrieToday
The most recent death is a man in his 80s, according to region's top public health official
Six residents have now died and there have been 39 positive cases of COVID-19 at Owen Hill Care Community in downtown Barrie. The most recent death is a man in his 80s, who died Monday. On a conference call with local media Tuesday, Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said the positive cases include 15 staff members and 24 residents. Owen Hill is a 57-bed facility, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. Gardner said the virus can "fairly easily" get into a long-term care facility and be extremely dangerous to residents. He said the mortality rate is between 20 and 30 per cent in such facilities. COVID-19 can be infectitous up to 48 hours before a person shows any symptoms. Sienna Senior Living, which operates Owen Hill Care Community, has issued a statement on the situation at the Owen Street facility. "Our highest priority is protecting the safety of our residents and team," the statement said. "We continue to implement stringent infection prevention and control protocols and have appropriate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard our team, in accordance with provincial directives." As of Monday, one resident has recovered and is now considered clear of COVID-19, the statement added. Around one-quarter of all COVID-19 cases in Simcoe-Muskoka region are related to outbreaks in long-term care facilities. The statement from Sienna Senior Living says staff at Owen Hill are working closely with public health officials. Workers are wearing surgical face masks and having their temperature taken twice per shift. Isolation protocols are also in place in all home areas. Residents are also having their temperatures checked twice daily and there is frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces.
Long-term care at ‘epicentre’ of pandemic, says Sienna Living official - BarrieToday
Four of five long-term care homes seeing COVID outbreaks in Simcoe County owned by Sienna Living
While long-term care homes across the province are seeing increases in reported COVID-19 cases, work is underway in homes across Simcoe County to temper the spread and keep it under control. Of the five long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks in Simcoe County, four are owned by Sienna Senior Living. “Long-term care homes are at the epicentre of this pandemic right now. There’s nothing we can do about that. We’re doing the best we can. Our team has put in extraordinary, heroic efforts to try and contain this,” said Natalie Gokchenian, director of communications for Sienna Senior Living. As of Monday, there are six long-term care or retirement facilities in Simcoe County that either have or are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, as reported by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
- Owen Hill Care Community in Barrie (one staff case, one resident case, zero recovered)
- Woods Park Care Community in Barrie (two staff cases, zero recovered)
- Bradford Valley Care Community in Bradford (34 resident cases, 10 staff cases [six local], seven deaths, total recoveries unknown)
- IOOF Seniors Homes in Barrie (one staff case, zero recovered)
- Spencer House in Orillia (one staff case, one recovered)
- There is also one case at a group home in Bradford, however Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe-Muskoka's medical officer of health, declined to provide the name of the home to media citing privacy concerns.
Health unit confirms 18 new COVID-19 cases, two in Barrie - BarrieToday
A Wasaga Beach woman in her 30s tested positive for the virus
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has confirmed another 18 COVID-19 cases in the region, including one more long-term care resident. A Wasaga Beach woman in her 30s has tested positive for the virus, the source of the transmission is listed as undetermined and she is self-isolating. Two people in their 20s from Barrie (one female and one male) have also been confirmed as COVID-19 positive. The woman’s case is listed as community acquired, and the man’s is listed as a close-contact transmission. Both are self-isolating. Bradford West Gwillimbury cases continue to climb with four more reported since Friday, including a 30-year-old woman who has been hospitalized and a woman in her 20s who is self-isolating. Both are cases of community transmission. There was also a case reported in a Bradford woman in her 40s who is now recovered. Hers was another case of community transmission. Another Bradford Valley long-term care home resident, a man in his 70s, has also tested positive for COVID-19. He is in isolation at Bradford Valley. The lone new travel-related case is a Midland man in his 70s who is self-isolating. There was also an Innisfil woman in her 20s listed among the new cases. The health unit has ruled hers was a case of community transmission. One case from Oro-Medonte in a woman in her 60s remains under investigation. She is self-isolating. The other cases reported today came from New Tecumseth, Adjala-Tosorontio Township, Huntsville and one is listed with location information pending. There are have been 202 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Simcoe County region, and 100 of those people have recovered, 12 have died, including two men in their 70s in Barrie. Ten people are hospitalized and 24 residents are isolated at Bradford Valley. The case breakdown for towns and cities (including those who have died or recovered) is as follows: Bradford West Gwillimbury (54), Barrie (48), New Tecumseth (20), Orillia (10), Collingwood (8), Innisfil (6), Springwater (5), Midland (5), Wasaga Beach (7), Oro-Medonte (5), Adjala-Tosorontio (6), Clearview (2), Essa (3), Ramara (2), Tiny (2), Penetanguishene (2) for a total of 185 cases in Simcoe County. There are also 16 confirmed positive cases in Muskoka. In Simcoe Muskoka the infection rate per 100,000 people is 31.7, the provincial average is 75.2 per 100,000 people.
Curve is flattening, but surge could still happen, says region's chief doc - BarrieToday
The health unit has hired and as recruiting physicians to be ready to start work by the end of the month
Though the region is still seeing between nine and 11 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 every day, the region’s medical officer of health says the data shows the spread of the virus is slowing in the region. Dr. Charles Gardner says the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s epidemiological curve is now showing a “fairly flat pattern of plateauing.” “Which is exactly what we want to see,” he said. “We want to see this contained and not continuing to surge upward.” The region’s doubling time — that is the amount of time it takes for the number of infected people to double — has increased from 7.2 days a week ago to 14.3 days now. “That’s certainly moving in the right direction,” said Gardner. “That’s one of the indicators that we’re improving.” He said by his calculations the province is also showing signs of a slowing spread with the doubling time at 9.1 days now, down from 5.1 days a week ago. “That’s a tribute to everybody’s work together to achieve that,” said Gardner. But he isn’t ready to say the time has come for more relaxed measures. In fact, the health unit is continuing to prepare for a potential surge in cases. Gardner said they have hired and recruited more physicians to be ready for deployment or in training by the end of the month. “It’s only prudent and wise for us to make sure we’re ready if we do get more of a surge,” he said. “We want to be ahead of things ourselves and not get caught behind.” Hospitals in the area are also preparing for a potential surge. In Owen Sound, local health services are setting up a field hospital at an arena. Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson said Friday there will be work soon to set up something similar in Collingwood. Two weeks ago, the hospital confirmed it has a contingency plan for more off-site space. As for when the region or the province will reach a peak number of cases or will start seeing a downward trend in daily case reports, Gardner said he can’t answer that. “Modelling, and data coming from other locations … suggests it is weeks yet before the present wave of this pandemic peaks, abates and goes down,” said Gardner. “Then there’s a potential for it to come back again.” Gardner expects there will be future waves of the virus. “If the majority of the population has not become infected with this … then we remain vulnerable to this in the future,” he said. The health unit has confirmed a total of 185 tests in the region so far, but of those 12 people have died (including two in Barrie) and 82 people have recovered. The health unit does follow up on close contacts of those who have been confirmed positive, but not all close contacts have been or will be tested. Gardner said he doesn’t provide the number of close contacts in self-isolation. There are 10 people in hospital, including four at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), four at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, and one at Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston. The other hospitalized case is “under investigation.” Of the 10 hospitalized patients, six are in intensive care units. Gardner didn’t have data on how many are currently on ventilators, however. The largest transmission source for cases in the region is now community transmission, which is attributed to 53 of the total 185 cases. There were 50 cases with a history of travel and 40 considered close contact transmission. There are 28 cases associated with the long-term care outbreak at Bradford Valley, another six cases marked “undetermined” and there are eight more “under investigation.” According to Gardner, there are likely many more people in the community who have COVID-19 and are transmitting the virus with few to no symptoms. Gardner reiterated his earlier message to encourage people to get tested if they can, even with a single symptom. “There’s never a doubt in my mind that, with surveillance, you see the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The more extensive the testing you do, the more we can be assured we’re getting more of it. You’ll never have it all.”