Hamilton escapes feared lockdown as COVID cases surge

News Dec 04, 2020 by Sebastian Bron Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton has escaped an anticipated lockdown after a record-setting week of COVID-19 cases.

Ontario announced three health regions — Middlesex-London, Thunder Bay, and Haliburton, Kawartha and Pine Ridge — would move into the yellow and orange stages of its colour-coded pandemic restriction tiers Friday.

Hamilton, meanwhile, will remain in the red zone, just a step away from a lockdown phase, which would have seen all gyms, personal services, and indoor and outdoor dining shutter for 28 days.

But the news is not a cause for celebration, warned Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, the city’s medical officer of health.

A nine-day stretch of 605 new coronavirus cases — including a pandemic high of 108 Tuesday — prompted Richardson to issue enhanced safety measures for shopping malls, retailers and workplaces during a press briefing Friday.

As of midnight Monday, malls will be required to reduce capacities which ensure at least two metres of space between patrons. The measures apply to malls as a whole and individual stores within them.

Active screenings will be enforced prior to entry at any workplace, shopping mall and retail business. All three will also be required to appoint a manager responsible for implementing a COVID-19 safety plan and monitoring compliance.

Retail stores outside of malls fall under the same restrictions effective midnight Saturday.

The new measures come at a critical point in Hamilton’s bid to curb a “very concerning” second wave of COVID-19, Richardson said. The city’s weekly rate of infections per 100,000 now stands at 79.7 — double the threshold to enter the red zone.

“We knew we needed more measures in terms of bringing us under control,” Richardson said when asked about her requests to the province. “I expressed that I definitely wanted to at least see these enhanced measures at the very minimum.”

Richardson did not confirm whether she recommended a lockdown to provincial health officials. She said it was the province’s decision to keep Hamilton in red, but noted “we’re very close” to reaching lockdown status.

Lockdowns do not have specific metrics like the other colours in Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework, and it is hard to predict what triggers a move away from the red zone. Premier Doug Ford has said he consults with the medical officer of health and the mayor.

“(It is) more of a qualitative discussion about what’s happening: increasing number of cases, outbreak, test positivity … those are all factors,” she said.

“My issue is not with the extra step. My issue is our inability to get these numbers down.”

The upward trend persisted Friday after 42 new infections brought the total number of active cases in Hamilton to 537.

There are 22 ongoing outbreaks listed on the city website. The largest is at Chartwell Willowgrove long-term care home in Ancaster where 88 people — 57 residents, 29 staff and two visitors — have tested positive.

Not included in the city’s count are two outbreaks in separate wards at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. Rob MacIsaac, CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, said at the press briefing three patients and two staff members have been infected with COVID.

CORRECTION: This article was updated Dec. 5 to correct a number. There were 605 new COVID cases in a nine-day stretch.

Sebastian Bron is a Hamilton-based reporter at The Spectator. Reach him via email: sbron@thespec.com

Hamilton escapes feared lockdown as COVID cases surge

Local public health unit enacting new rules for shopping malls, retailers and workplaces

News Dec 04, 2020 by Sebastian Bron Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton has escaped an anticipated lockdown after a record-setting week of COVID-19 cases.

Ontario announced three health regions — Middlesex-London, Thunder Bay, and Haliburton, Kawartha and Pine Ridge — would move into the yellow and orange stages of its colour-coded pandemic restriction tiers Friday.

Hamilton, meanwhile, will remain in the red zone, just a step away from a lockdown phase, which would have seen all gyms, personal services, and indoor and outdoor dining shutter for 28 days.

But the news is not a cause for celebration, warned Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, the city’s medical officer of health.

Related Content

A nine-day stretch of 605 new coronavirus cases — including a pandemic high of 108 Tuesday — prompted Richardson to issue enhanced safety measures for shopping malls, retailers and workplaces during a press briefing Friday.

As of midnight Monday, malls will be required to reduce capacities which ensure at least two metres of space between patrons. The measures apply to malls as a whole and individual stores within them.

Active screenings will be enforced prior to entry at any workplace, shopping mall and retail business. All three will also be required to appoint a manager responsible for implementing a COVID-19 safety plan and monitoring compliance.

Retail stores outside of malls fall under the same restrictions effective midnight Saturday.

The new measures come at a critical point in Hamilton’s bid to curb a “very concerning” second wave of COVID-19, Richardson said. The city’s weekly rate of infections per 100,000 now stands at 79.7 — double the threshold to enter the red zone.

“We knew we needed more measures in terms of bringing us under control,” Richardson said when asked about her requests to the province. “I expressed that I definitely wanted to at least see these enhanced measures at the very minimum.”

Richardson did not confirm whether she recommended a lockdown to provincial health officials. She said it was the province’s decision to keep Hamilton in red, but noted “we’re very close” to reaching lockdown status.

Lockdowns do not have specific metrics like the other colours in Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework, and it is hard to predict what triggers a move away from the red zone. Premier Doug Ford has said he consults with the medical officer of health and the mayor.

“(It is) more of a qualitative discussion about what’s happening: increasing number of cases, outbreak, test positivity … those are all factors,” she said.

“My issue is not with the extra step. My issue is our inability to get these numbers down.”

The upward trend persisted Friday after 42 new infections brought the total number of active cases in Hamilton to 537.

There are 22 ongoing outbreaks listed on the city website. The largest is at Chartwell Willowgrove long-term care home in Ancaster where 88 people — 57 residents, 29 staff and two visitors — have tested positive.

Not included in the city’s count are two outbreaks in separate wards at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. Rob MacIsaac, CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, said at the press briefing three patients and two staff members have been infected with COVID.

CORRECTION: This article was updated Dec. 5 to correct a number. There were 605 new COVID cases in a nine-day stretch.

Sebastian Bron is a Hamilton-based reporter at The Spectator. Reach him via email: sbron@thespec.com

Hamilton escapes feared lockdown as COVID cases surge

Local public health unit enacting new rules for shopping malls, retailers and workplaces

News Dec 04, 2020 by Sebastian Bron Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton has escaped an anticipated lockdown after a record-setting week of COVID-19 cases.

Ontario announced three health regions — Middlesex-London, Thunder Bay, and Haliburton, Kawartha and Pine Ridge — would move into the yellow and orange stages of its colour-coded pandemic restriction tiers Friday.

Hamilton, meanwhile, will remain in the red zone, just a step away from a lockdown phase, which would have seen all gyms, personal services, and indoor and outdoor dining shutter for 28 days.

But the news is not a cause for celebration, warned Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, the city’s medical officer of health.

Related Content

A nine-day stretch of 605 new coronavirus cases — including a pandemic high of 108 Tuesday — prompted Richardson to issue enhanced safety measures for shopping malls, retailers and workplaces during a press briefing Friday.

As of midnight Monday, malls will be required to reduce capacities which ensure at least two metres of space between patrons. The measures apply to malls as a whole and individual stores within them.

Active screenings will be enforced prior to entry at any workplace, shopping mall and retail business. All three will also be required to appoint a manager responsible for implementing a COVID-19 safety plan and monitoring compliance.

Retail stores outside of malls fall under the same restrictions effective midnight Saturday.

The new measures come at a critical point in Hamilton’s bid to curb a “very concerning” second wave of COVID-19, Richardson said. The city’s weekly rate of infections per 100,000 now stands at 79.7 — double the threshold to enter the red zone.

“We knew we needed more measures in terms of bringing us under control,” Richardson said when asked about her requests to the province. “I expressed that I definitely wanted to at least see these enhanced measures at the very minimum.”

Richardson did not confirm whether she recommended a lockdown to provincial health officials. She said it was the province’s decision to keep Hamilton in red, but noted “we’re very close” to reaching lockdown status.

Lockdowns do not have specific metrics like the other colours in Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework, and it is hard to predict what triggers a move away from the red zone. Premier Doug Ford has said he consults with the medical officer of health and the mayor.

“(It is) more of a qualitative discussion about what’s happening: increasing number of cases, outbreak, test positivity … those are all factors,” she said.

“My issue is not with the extra step. My issue is our inability to get these numbers down.”

The upward trend persisted Friday after 42 new infections brought the total number of active cases in Hamilton to 537.

There are 22 ongoing outbreaks listed on the city website. The largest is at Chartwell Willowgrove long-term care home in Ancaster where 88 people — 57 residents, 29 staff and two visitors — have tested positive.

Not included in the city’s count are two outbreaks in separate wards at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. Rob MacIsaac, CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, said at the press briefing three patients and two staff members have been infected with COVID.

CORRECTION: This article was updated Dec. 5 to correct a number. There were 605 new COVID cases in a nine-day stretch.

Sebastian Bron is a Hamilton-based reporter at The Spectator. Reach him via email: sbron@thespec.com