We've 'wrestled this surge' and numbers are manageable again: Arra

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Grey-Bruce has wrestled the surging COVID-19 third wave to manageable levels, the local medical officer of health said Friday.

“It is a success to see that Grey-Bruce, all of us — the public, the partners, municipalities, businesses, the health unit — they really wrestled this surge down to the ground,” Dr. Ian Arra said in an interview.

His prediction in March that Grey-Bruce’s COVID numbers would peak in mid-April and reach manageable levels by month’s end did happen, he said.

“I have no doubt, the numbers are going to zigzag up and down on that chart. But I have the confidence that we are able to contain it and maintain this control, until enough vaccines are in arms.”

Friday’s daily situation report, with infection counts current as of midnight Thursday, show just four new cases: two in Owen Sound and one each in The Blue Mountains and South Bruce.

That brought the total, cumulative number of positive COVID-19 cases to 1,200. Included are 270 confirmed cases of variants of concern, 32 of which are active cases. There are now  75 active cases in all.

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Health unit staff are following 242 high-risk contacts.

There are no current local outbreaks reported related to schools, daycares or long-term care residences.

One local person is hospitalized in Grey-Bruce with COVID, one is in hospital outside of Grey-Bruce due to COVID, and seven cases have been transferred in from other areas to Grey-Bruce intensive-care units and aren’t included in local counts.

Arra wouldn’t go so far as to say the worst is behind us, even though much more vaccine is becoming available.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. Any time people lower their guard, if there is enough of us to lower our guard, we’re going to be in another spike . . . until enough vaccines are in arms.”

Arra also said Friday that Grey-Bruce will receive almost double its expected shipment of vaccines in the last two weeks of May — about 7,000 to 8,000 doses per week.

So far, 59,517 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to people in Grey-Bruce, with 6,120 of those over the past seven days.

In total, 39.7 per cent of the Grey-Bruce population eligible to get the shot (16+ years) has had at least one dose. Just 3.8 per cent of that group has had two doses.

Local vaccination bookings opened Friday to people aged 55 and older on the provincial website. Others in certain highest risk circumstances and caregivers are also eligible to book appointments.

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Unless they meet certain health exceptions, people must wait 16 weeks from their first shot before getting their second.

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“Anyone booking and showing up at a clinic for their second vaccine, before the 16-week wait, will be turned away and not receive the shot,” a health unit news release said Friday.

The provincial booking system automatically will book the second appointment at least 16 weeks after the first dose, with certain exceptions for people with the highest-risk health conditions. This system will not book single appointments.

The provincial booking system site is covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/.

Meanwhile, the Grey Bruce Health Unit local booking system for other groups is for specific people to book vaccinations. Users of this system must note and remember the type of vaccine (because both shots must be by the same manufacturer) and the date of their vaccine and book a second appointment in 16 weeks.

Bookings will only be available within a two-week window of the date and clinics will be labelled Moderna or Pfizer.

But those with defined, high-risk and highest-risk health conditions must get their second doses within 21 to 28 days and are the only exception to the 16-week second-dose schedule.

Those exceptions include residents of long-term care, retirement homes and elder-care lodges and assisted-living facilities who are at the greatest risk of both exposure to COVID and serious illness and death.

Others with shortened waiting periods for a second dose include First Nation people on- and off-reserve and immunocompromised people with medical needs such as organ or stem cell transplant recipients, those undergoing chemotherapy or with kidney disease. Such appointments can be booked on the public health website, COVID19.vaccine@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.

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Boat launches are open in Grey-Bruce but restrictions, including in the provincial stay-at-home order, require people to only use them “for purposes allowed under the order, such as exercise or obtaining food . . . not as a location for a public gathering,” a health unit press release said Friday.

There are rules for marinas to.

“A marina may not be used for recreational boating purposes,” the health unit said, except for certain exceptions.

Those exceptions are to repair or service watercraft, place boats or watercraft in the water to be secured to a dock, and carry out other services to support commercial and government operations or services, and enable people to access their residence or other property.

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Ontario added 3,887 new COVID cases Thursday, the bulk of them in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Durham and Hamilton.

Total COVID infections in Ontario stand at 463,364, while 417,252 have resolved and 8,050 people have died, including 21 more deaths Thursday.

The number of people reported in hospital, including in intense-care Friday, was 817, eight fewer than the day before and the fewest over the prior four days. The number on a ventilator rose by 12 from the day before, to 632 province-wide.

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