KFL&A Public Health Board hears COVID-19 update

KFL&A Public Health headquarters in Kingston. Kingstonist file photo.

Members of the Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health Board received a COVID-19 community update from Queen’s University medical student Jonathan Cook at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020.

Cook explained the provincial trends observed for the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that cases in Toronto, York and Peel Public Health regions are driving Ontario’s pandemic.

“Toronto, York and Peel regions are the three contributors to the current daily case counts,” Cook said. “They are hot spots, and have the capacity to spill over into neighbouring health units, including our own KFL&A region.”

Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, has repeatedly explained that local cases of COVID-19 are largely linked to individuals travelling outside of the region to, or visiting from, urban “hot spots” such as the GTA.

Cook described the general trends in the COVID-19 case increase through the fall. “The vast number of cases were initially in Ontario and Quebec,” he said, though they have since extended to reach all areas of the country.

“In Ontario, we have seen a marked increase in daily case numbers. We added 1,373 cases today,” he said, “and our active cases are around 13,000 or so.”

The test positivity rate for the province has also been creeping upwards since the fall, he said. Provincially, the 7-day average for positive cases is around four per cent. Locally, that value is only 0.21 per cent.

Provincially, Cook noted that people aged 20 to 29 years old represent most of the new cases, with some “trickle down” to older demographics. In the KFL&A Public Health region he said, the same holds true.

“We are seeing very much the younger cohorts being the major contributors to COVID-19 in our community,” he said. “As far as sex distribution between male and female, there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference across Ontario between the two.”

“What we’re seeing is a rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Over 500 Ontarians are now in hospital, with 159 in the ICU. This is something very concerning that we want to see brought down,” he said, noting that over 100 people are currently on ventilators.

He also described some recent COVID-19 case projections.

“With a three per cent growth,” which was the more conservative model he shared, “we’re expecting to have 3,500 cases per day in Ontario by mid-December.”

He commended KFL&A constituents for remaining vigilant heading into the winter.

“I just want to thank all of the stakeholders that make up the KFL&A chain of protection,” he said. “Try to stay local, stay home if you’re sick. If you are sick, get tested, and try to keep your contacts low.”

Strong local influenza vaccination

The Board heard about the success of Public Health’s influenza vaccination program, considered an essential form of protection and preservation for local health care resources during the pandemic.

“We will not be having a ‘twindemic,’” Dr. Moore proclaimed, meaning he does not anticipate the local health care system having to battle an influenza pandemic and COVID-19 at the same time.

“If we are keeping COVID-19 away, we are keeping the flu away,” he added, pointing out that the two viruses are transmitted in the same way.

KFL&A Public Health has distributed over 100,000 doses of influenza vaccine to hospitals, long term care facilities, and family medical clinics this fall, with an estimated 50 per cent of the community already vaccinated. This would rank KFL&A Public Health region with one of the highest influenza vaccination rates in the province.

Other meeting highlights

The KFL&A Public Health board voted to endorse Bill 216 Food Literacy for Students Act, 2020 and the addition of Anti-Racism as the sixth pillar to Canada Health Act.

Bill 216 calls for experiential food literacy and healthy eating training to be integrated into the Ontario curriculum from grades one to 12.

Regarding Anti-Racism, the Board’s endorsement was based on the contents of An Open Letter ‘Adding AntiRacism to the Canada Health Act: The time is now,’ written by members of the Brian Sinclair Working group and supported by the Canadian Public Health Association.

They also agreed to send a letter to the Ontario government advocating on behalf of a local tour boat operator.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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