Hamilton among the hardest hit in pandemic’s fourth wave

News Aug 16, 2021 by Joanna Frketich Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton is among the hardest hit so far in COVID’s fourth wave as Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is expected to announce sweeping changes to stop the spread of the aggressive Delta variant.

“The exponential growth of new infections is alarming,” the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) said about the province in a statement Monday. “The troubling fourth wave is driven primarily by the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated.”

Hamilton is tied with Windsor for having Ontario’s highest COVID rate — well above third-place York.

The city has the second-highest test positivity rate. Two local forward sortation areas (FSA) — the first three characters of a postal code — are among the top 10 rates in Ontario with a third in the top 20.

At the same time, Hamilton is reporting its fewest COVID shots administered per day since March, despite continuing to have among the lowest vaccination rates in the province.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger called again Monday for Ontario to have mandatory COVID shots for certain groups and vaccine passports. Hamilton’s board of health unanimously agreed Aug. 11 to have the mayor advocate to the province for the stricter measures.

“The COVID-19 vaccine offers the best protection against severe disease and hospitalizations,” Eisenberger said in a statement. “In hopes of curbing the case numbers and to protect our reopening, Hamilton city council has called on the provincial and federal governments to implement further action.”

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, is expected to announce Tuesday new vaccine rules for patient-facing staff in hospitals, long-term care and home care as first reported by Toronto Star reporter Robert Benzie.

The Star reported Friday the vaccine mandate directive will have a medical exemption. For those who simply refuse to get vaccinated, there will be a mandatory education session and they could be transferred to other duties so they don’t directly deal with patients.

Unvaccinated health-care workers are also expected to be required to get regularly tested.

“What we are seeing is too little too late, all over again,” said CEO Doris Grinspun of the RNAO. “We must move aggressively to implement the policies required to limit the impact of the fourth wave ... This means mandating vaccination for health-care workers, as well as teachers and educators.”

Mandatory vaccination for health-care workers has been called for by a wide variety of groups including the RNAO, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Ontario and Canadian medical associations, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Ontario and Canadian pharmacists associations, the Ontario Long-Term Care Association and AdvantAge Ontario, which is the voice of not-for-profit and municipal long-term-care homes.

“Why are staff allowed to work among those patients without being double vaccinated,” Coun. Arlene VanderBeek said at the board of health meeting, particularly regarding city-run Macassa and Wentworth lodges.

Some of the above organizations also support mandatory vaccination for teachers, which is not expected to be part of Tuesday’s changes.

The Star reported Moore will also announce targeted COVID booster shots while keeping current pandemic restrictions indefinitely.

“It would be wrong at this time to lift public health measures,” stated the RNAO. “Infection trends in recent days require swift action and a shift to address this fourth wave, driven by a dangerous variant.”

The province had planned to enter its “exit step” and drop almost all COVID restrictions once 80 per cent of eligible Ontarians had a first dose and 75 per cent had a second shot with no public health department below 70 per cent.

Hamilton is close to meeting that threshold with 69.6 per cent of those age 12 and over having two COVID shots.

But analysis of provincial data by Ed Tubb of the Toronto Star shows the city still has the fourth-lowest vaccination rate in the province as of Monday. Haldimand and Norfolk continues to be the worst while Halton is the second best.

The least vaccinated age group in Hamilton are those age 25 to 29 with just under 66 per cent having one shot and 55 per cent with two shots.

At the same time, doses administered per day continue to free fall, hitting 1,160 on Aug. 15 compared to a peak of 9,873 on July 5.

The doses administered by Ministry of Health mobile clinics went up by only 56 over the weekend despite the province’s GO-VAXX bus being at Eastwood Park.

It will be in Hamilton next on Thursday at Valens Lake Conservation Area in Flamborough from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at the Rockton Farmers Market from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will be at Rosedale Arena on Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The need to boost vaccination rates in Hamilton is clear as the city is tied with Windsor for the most cases per million in the last seven days, shows analysis done by epidemiologist Ahmed Al-Jaishi. Monday’s rate was 445 — third-place York was 258 — with Hamilton seeing an 83 per cent increase in the last week.

“It is now apparent that relaxing steps one and two in the reopening plan have contributed to the early onset of the fourth wave,” said RNAO president Morgan Hoffarth. “This is not the same virus we were confronting in the spring of 2020. And the government is not responding to the new variant with the vigilance and strength required.”

Hamilton also had the second-highest test positivity at 3.3 per cent for the week of Aug. 1 to 7 — behind only Windsor-Essex.

Ontario research institute ICES also pegged two Hamilton FSAs in the province’s top 10 for test positivity — L8L in the north end at 8.24 per cent and L8J on Stoney Creek Mountain at 6.94 per cent. A third FSA — L8M in east Hamilton — was in the top 20 with 6.04 per cent of COVID tests coming back positive.

All three are in parts of the city with the lowest vaccination rates where 57.3 to 63.8 per cent of those eligible have one dose compared to Hamilton’s highest rates of 70.9 to 78 per cent.

Hamilton among the hardest hit in pandemic’s fourth wave

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health expected to announce changes as Hamilton still sees cases increase and vaccination decrease

News Aug 16, 2021 by Joanna Frketich Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton is among the hardest hit so far in COVID’s fourth wave as Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is expected to announce sweeping changes to stop the spread of the aggressive Delta variant.

“The exponential growth of new infections is alarming,” the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) said about the province in a statement Monday. “The troubling fourth wave is driven primarily by the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated.”

Hamilton is tied with Windsor for having Ontario’s highest COVID rate — well above third-place York.

The city has the second-highest test positivity rate. Two local forward sortation areas (FSA) — the first three characters of a postal code — are among the top 10 rates in Ontario with a third in the top 20.

Related Content

At the same time, Hamilton is reporting its fewest COVID shots administered per day since March, despite continuing to have among the lowest vaccination rates in the province.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger called again Monday for Ontario to have mandatory COVID shots for certain groups and vaccine passports. Hamilton’s board of health unanimously agreed Aug. 11 to have the mayor advocate to the province for the stricter measures.

“The COVID-19 vaccine offers the best protection against severe disease and hospitalizations,” Eisenberger said in a statement. “In hopes of curbing the case numbers and to protect our reopening, Hamilton city council has called on the provincial and federal governments to implement further action.”

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, is expected to announce Tuesday new vaccine rules for patient-facing staff in hospitals, long-term care and home care as first reported by Toronto Star reporter Robert Benzie.

The Star reported Friday the vaccine mandate directive will have a medical exemption. For those who simply refuse to get vaccinated, there will be a mandatory education session and they could be transferred to other duties so they don’t directly deal with patients.

Unvaccinated health-care workers are also expected to be required to get regularly tested.

“What we are seeing is too little too late, all over again,” said CEO Doris Grinspun of the RNAO. “We must move aggressively to implement the policies required to limit the impact of the fourth wave ... This means mandating vaccination for health-care workers, as well as teachers and educators.”

Mandatory vaccination for health-care workers has been called for by a wide variety of groups including the RNAO, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Ontario and Canadian medical associations, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Ontario and Canadian pharmacists associations, the Ontario Long-Term Care Association and AdvantAge Ontario, which is the voice of not-for-profit and municipal long-term-care homes.

“Why are staff allowed to work among those patients without being double vaccinated,” Coun. Arlene VanderBeek said at the board of health meeting, particularly regarding city-run Macassa and Wentworth lodges.

Some of the above organizations also support mandatory vaccination for teachers, which is not expected to be part of Tuesday’s changes.

The Star reported Moore will also announce targeted COVID booster shots while keeping current pandemic restrictions indefinitely.

“It would be wrong at this time to lift public health measures,” stated the RNAO. “Infection trends in recent days require swift action and a shift to address this fourth wave, driven by a dangerous variant.”

The province had planned to enter its “exit step” and drop almost all COVID restrictions once 80 per cent of eligible Ontarians had a first dose and 75 per cent had a second shot with no public health department below 70 per cent.

Hamilton is close to meeting that threshold with 69.6 per cent of those age 12 and over having two COVID shots.

But analysis of provincial data by Ed Tubb of the Toronto Star shows the city still has the fourth-lowest vaccination rate in the province as of Monday. Haldimand and Norfolk continues to be the worst while Halton is the second best.

The least vaccinated age group in Hamilton are those age 25 to 29 with just under 66 per cent having one shot and 55 per cent with two shots.

At the same time, doses administered per day continue to free fall, hitting 1,160 on Aug. 15 compared to a peak of 9,873 on July 5.

The doses administered by Ministry of Health mobile clinics went up by only 56 over the weekend despite the province’s GO-VAXX bus being at Eastwood Park.

It will be in Hamilton next on Thursday at Valens Lake Conservation Area in Flamborough from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at the Rockton Farmers Market from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will be at Rosedale Arena on Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The need to boost vaccination rates in Hamilton is clear as the city is tied with Windsor for the most cases per million in the last seven days, shows analysis done by epidemiologist Ahmed Al-Jaishi. Monday’s rate was 445 — third-place York was 258 — with Hamilton seeing an 83 per cent increase in the last week.

“It is now apparent that relaxing steps one and two in the reopening plan have contributed to the early onset of the fourth wave,” said RNAO president Morgan Hoffarth. “This is not the same virus we were confronting in the spring of 2020. And the government is not responding to the new variant with the vigilance and strength required.”

Hamilton also had the second-highest test positivity at 3.3 per cent for the week of Aug. 1 to 7 — behind only Windsor-Essex.

Ontario research institute ICES also pegged two Hamilton FSAs in the province’s top 10 for test positivity — L8L in the north end at 8.24 per cent and L8J on Stoney Creek Mountain at 6.94 per cent. A third FSA — L8M in east Hamilton — was in the top 20 with 6.04 per cent of COVID tests coming back positive.

All three are in parts of the city with the lowest vaccination rates where 57.3 to 63.8 per cent of those eligible have one dose compared to Hamilton’s highest rates of 70.9 to 78 per cent.

Hamilton among the hardest hit in pandemic’s fourth wave

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health expected to announce changes as Hamilton still sees cases increase and vaccination decrease

News Aug 16, 2021 by Joanna Frketich Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton is among the hardest hit so far in COVID’s fourth wave as Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is expected to announce sweeping changes to stop the spread of the aggressive Delta variant.

“The exponential growth of new infections is alarming,” the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) said about the province in a statement Monday. “The troubling fourth wave is driven primarily by the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated.”

Hamilton is tied with Windsor for having Ontario’s highest COVID rate — well above third-place York.

The city has the second-highest test positivity rate. Two local forward sortation areas (FSA) — the first three characters of a postal code — are among the top 10 rates in Ontario with a third in the top 20.

Related Content

At the same time, Hamilton is reporting its fewest COVID shots administered per day since March, despite continuing to have among the lowest vaccination rates in the province.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger called again Monday for Ontario to have mandatory COVID shots for certain groups and vaccine passports. Hamilton’s board of health unanimously agreed Aug. 11 to have the mayor advocate to the province for the stricter measures.

“The COVID-19 vaccine offers the best protection against severe disease and hospitalizations,” Eisenberger said in a statement. “In hopes of curbing the case numbers and to protect our reopening, Hamilton city council has called on the provincial and federal governments to implement further action.”

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, is expected to announce Tuesday new vaccine rules for patient-facing staff in hospitals, long-term care and home care as first reported by Toronto Star reporter Robert Benzie.

The Star reported Friday the vaccine mandate directive will have a medical exemption. For those who simply refuse to get vaccinated, there will be a mandatory education session and they could be transferred to other duties so they don’t directly deal with patients.

Unvaccinated health-care workers are also expected to be required to get regularly tested.

“What we are seeing is too little too late, all over again,” said CEO Doris Grinspun of the RNAO. “We must move aggressively to implement the policies required to limit the impact of the fourth wave ... This means mandating vaccination for health-care workers, as well as teachers and educators.”

Mandatory vaccination for health-care workers has been called for by a wide variety of groups including the RNAO, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Ontario and Canadian medical associations, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Ontario and Canadian pharmacists associations, the Ontario Long-Term Care Association and AdvantAge Ontario, which is the voice of not-for-profit and municipal long-term-care homes.

“Why are staff allowed to work among those patients without being double vaccinated,” Coun. Arlene VanderBeek said at the board of health meeting, particularly regarding city-run Macassa and Wentworth lodges.

Some of the above organizations also support mandatory vaccination for teachers, which is not expected to be part of Tuesday’s changes.

The Star reported Moore will also announce targeted COVID booster shots while keeping current pandemic restrictions indefinitely.

“It would be wrong at this time to lift public health measures,” stated the RNAO. “Infection trends in recent days require swift action and a shift to address this fourth wave, driven by a dangerous variant.”

The province had planned to enter its “exit step” and drop almost all COVID restrictions once 80 per cent of eligible Ontarians had a first dose and 75 per cent had a second shot with no public health department below 70 per cent.

Hamilton is close to meeting that threshold with 69.6 per cent of those age 12 and over having two COVID shots.

But analysis of provincial data by Ed Tubb of the Toronto Star shows the city still has the fourth-lowest vaccination rate in the province as of Monday. Haldimand and Norfolk continues to be the worst while Halton is the second best.

The least vaccinated age group in Hamilton are those age 25 to 29 with just under 66 per cent having one shot and 55 per cent with two shots.

At the same time, doses administered per day continue to free fall, hitting 1,160 on Aug. 15 compared to a peak of 9,873 on July 5.

The doses administered by Ministry of Health mobile clinics went up by only 56 over the weekend despite the province’s GO-VAXX bus being at Eastwood Park.

It will be in Hamilton next on Thursday at Valens Lake Conservation Area in Flamborough from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at the Rockton Farmers Market from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will be at Rosedale Arena on Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The need to boost vaccination rates in Hamilton is clear as the city is tied with Windsor for the most cases per million in the last seven days, shows analysis done by epidemiologist Ahmed Al-Jaishi. Monday’s rate was 445 — third-place York was 258 — with Hamilton seeing an 83 per cent increase in the last week.

“It is now apparent that relaxing steps one and two in the reopening plan have contributed to the early onset of the fourth wave,” said RNAO president Morgan Hoffarth. “This is not the same virus we were confronting in the spring of 2020. And the government is not responding to the new variant with the vigilance and strength required.”

Hamilton also had the second-highest test positivity at 3.3 per cent for the week of Aug. 1 to 7 — behind only Windsor-Essex.

Ontario research institute ICES also pegged two Hamilton FSAs in the province’s top 10 for test positivity — L8L in the north end at 8.24 per cent and L8J on Stoney Creek Mountain at 6.94 per cent. A third FSA — L8M in east Hamilton — was in the top 20 with 6.04 per cent of COVID tests coming back positive.

All three are in parts of the city with the lowest vaccination rates where 57.3 to 63.8 per cent of those eligible have one dose compared to Hamilton’s highest rates of 70.9 to 78 per cent.