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COVID: nine new cases reported Thursday as province ramps up vaccine rollout

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The Grey Bruce Health Unit reported nine new cases of COVID-19 Thursday.

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Owen Sound and West Grey each reported two new cases while single cases were found in Chatsworth, Georgian Bluffs, Grey Highlands, Kincardine, and Southgate.

There are now 85 active cases in the two counties including 26 involving variants of concern.

The health unit’s contact tracing team is following 272 high-risk close contacts, two are hospitalized locally and one person is hospitalized outside of the region.

The health unit’s daily situation report said there are now seven people with COVID-19 who have been transferred to local hospitals from other health units. Those people remain with the transferring health unit and are not reflected in local case counts.

To date, 1,198 people have had cases of COVID-19 confirmed by the health unit including 94 health care workers. Of those, 1,108 are now considered resolved.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit’s vaccine hub in Owen Sound reopened at the Julie McArthur Regional Recreation Centre Thursday.

According to the health unit’s weekly vaccine schedule, vaccinations were given to people 60 and older on the floor of one of the Rec Centre’s ice pads Thursday, as well as those who are immunocompromised or pregnant.

The health unit recently relocated the vaccine hub from the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre to clear the way should the field hospital be needed.

“The increased number of COVID-19 patient transfers from the larger metropolitan hospitals to the Grey Bruce Health Services also increases the likelihood of the field hospital located at the Bayshore coming into use,” a health unit release explaining the hub’s move said. “Relocating the vaccine clinics frees up operations of the field hospital.”

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The Grey Bruce Health Services field hospital is set up on the arena floor at the Bayshore. Previously, the health unit’s vaccination clinics were being staged in the community centre’s meeting and conference rooms.

Indigenous community members are scheduled to be vaccinated at the Rec Centre Friday.

Meanwhile, Ontario is expecting a significant influx of vaccines in May and is opening up eligibility for appointments to all adults in the province by the week of May 24, officials said Thursday.

The province is also boosting the number of shots given to COVID-19 hot spots.

Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health, said prioritizing vaccines to COVID-19 hot spots has led to delayed vaccine shipments in Grey-Bruce, but not a large reduction in total doses.

Arra said targeting hot spots with more doses benefits everyone in the province at the end of the day.

“If you step back and look at the big picture, we’re now receiving patients from the hot spots to our hospitals,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

He said targeting the hot spots should help alleviate the stress on the provincewide hospital network and lower case counts and COVID-19 related deaths.

“The evidence is there, it’s good policy for the province,” he said.

People over 30 will be eligible to book a vaccination appointment the week of May 17 and all adults over 18 in Ontario can book the week of May 24, the province said Thursday.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit has now administered 57,718 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine including 4,865 in the past seven days.

Public health units throughout Ontario reported 3,871 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday with 41 new deaths.

The 41 deaths are a third-wave high.

Labs in Ontario completed 56,939 tests with a 7.6 per cent positivity rate.

The province’s seven-day rolling average was up Thursday to 3,810 cases per day.

Provincial data suggests 2,248 people were in hospital Thursday, with 884 patients in intensive care units and 620 people on ventilators Thursday.

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