Kingstonians who do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, but require testing for work or visitation to long-term care homes, now have more options.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced an investment of $1.376 billion aimed at enhancing the province’s COVID-19 and flu shot response. Much of the press conference centred around the hiring of more nurses and PSWs, and the “largest flu shot campaign this province has ever seen,” Ford said, for which $2.8 billion of the investment is being spent. Additionally, Ford described a plan to expand testing and contact tracing, hiring 100 new contact tracers, many of whom are starting work this week, with up to 500 more recruits expected to be hired by mid-November. That section of the expansion required $1.37 billion of the investment, Ford said.
“With these additional hires, we will have hundreds more boots on the ground to support contact tracing throughout the province, which is an essential weapon in our fight against COVID-19,” said Ford, standing alongside Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
“Thanks to the absolute pros tracking down the data, we are reaching cases and contacts faster, with 30 public health units reaching 90 per cent of cases within 24 hours. There is nowhere this virus can hide ? and that’s critical to our efforts to contain the spread of this deadly threat and flatten the curve of the second wave.”
The Ontario government said it is partnering with Ian Martin, an Ontario-based recruitment firm that has extensive experience in supplying COVID-19 staffing resources, to expedite the onboarding of the additional staff.
But part of Ford’s Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 included mention of Kingston, when the Premier revealed the Limestone City would be one of 50 new locations to offer COVID-19 testing at pharmacies for asymptomatic residents.
“In two short weeks, we’ve made leaps and bounds. Over 100 pharmacies in Ontario are now offering testing, with 50 more joining this week. More communities will be able to receive flu [vaccinations] and [COVID-19] testing,” Ford said, listing 15 locations where pharmacies would now be offering testing, including Kingston.
“Wait times for tests are down. We’ve significantly reduced our testing backlog.”
COVID-19 testing locations in Kingston
According to the Ministry of Health, the two pharmacies offering asymptomatic COVID-19 testing here in Kingston are the Shoppers Drug Mart locations at 775 Strand Boulevard and 1201 Division Street. Both locations are open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. (midnight).
Community Assessment Centre, located within the Beechgrove Complex, will continue to offer COVID-19 testing by appointment. For more information on the pharmacy and assessment centre locations and operations in Kingston, visit the Ministry of Health Assessment Centre Locator page. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases, policies, and links to information, visit Kingstonist’s COVID-19 Quick Reference Guide.
At time of publication, the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health region has 11 active cases of COVID-19. Three new cases were announced on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, including one of a male healthcare worker.