At her first media “scrum”, Dr. Natalie Bocking, the new HKPR Medical Officer of Health, provided a comprehensive update on what is being done to cope with the pandemic. A good part of the statistical data she provided is available online at the HKPR DHU website (That’s the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit web site) but she also provided additional details about variants, vaccines, demographics, clinics, vaccine distribution and appointment availability. It was open to the media and local media people did ask some questions. This report will provide a summary of information provided but in the interest of transparency, the one hour session was recorded on You-Tube and is available via links below. If you have the time, you can see and hear the source information.
- In this region, 13 to 14% of cases are variants compared to the Province where the number is 69%. To know which variant it is requires additional longer testing and this is not always done. But historically, it has been the UK variant.
- In the last 2 weeks, 30% of cases have been in people less than 20 years old.
- The crude rate of infection is around 65 to 89 cases per 100K population. This would put us in a red zone.
- There are now fewer outbreaks in Long Term care homes (they’ve been mostly vaccinated). In fact most cases are now in the community generally and not outbreaks.
- The Test positivity rate is now just over 3% and while this is higher than previously, it’s less than the Provincial average of around 10%.
- New case activity appears to have plateaued; but let’s not celebrate just yet.
Four type of vaccines have been approved:
- Pfizer – mRNA type
- Moderna – mRNA type
- Astrazenica – non-replicating viral vector type
- Johnson & Johnson – non-replicating viral vector
Only the first three are available in Ontario. The number of vaccines administered in the region is given on this web site – it’s updated weekly on Mondays. Currently that number is 41,156 although because some get shots outside the region, the number who have received shots in this region is about 51K. That is, about 27% have already received one dose.
There are four ways vaccines are being distributed
- Mass vaccination clinics like the CCC. These focus on demographics defined by age and all appointments are booked on the Provincial system.
- Mobile teams who aim at vulnerable groups living in places like Retirement homes.
- Pharmacies – currently there are 22 in the region. Of these, I count 3 in Cobourg (for links and details, see Vaccine page here). Pharmacies are distributing the Astrazenica vaccine. When asked about its safety, Dr. Bocking said it was safe and the remote chance of a blood clot (1 in 100K to 250k) was a whole lot less than the danger of the virus. When asked, she said she’d be willing to be vaccinated with it.
- Family Health Teams – an example in Cobourg is the Northumberland Family Health Team – I believe these are also distributing Astrazenica vaccine.
But we are currently not receiving enough vaccine supply so next week, the only people getting vaccinated will be some via the mobile team. You currently cannot make an appointment on the Provincial system at the CCC since the region only adds appointment slots to the schedule when vaccine delivery is confirmed. But try again in a week. More supply is expected in mid-May. It’s hoped that the mass vaccination clinics will then be able to operate at full capacity which has not been the case recently.
Some of the shortage is because we are not in a hot-spot. 80% of cases are in 20% of locations so extra vaccine is diverted there.
Questions – highlights
Q. Why are Golf courses (etc) closed?
A. There were cases of gatherings at these locations and gatherings are a problem.
Q. What additional measures could be taken?
A. A good report was issued by the “Science Advisory Table” – see link and report headings below.
Q. Are there any statistics on which groups are most affected?
A. Currently, only 14% of cases are associated with outbreaks. Most cases are general community transmission.
Dr. Bocking commented that 29% of the population in the region is over 65 and they have not all been vaccinated. The Province expanded eligibility before these were all given their shots – we don’t have enough vaccine to keep up.
Q. What is the best way to organize administering vaccines – there was a lineup at Shopper’s Drug last Saturday – is that optimum?
A. The best way requires minimizing exposure including with masks, spacing etc. Pharmacies are expected to make sure of this.
Q. If someone goes to one Pharmacy for their first shot, can they go to another for their second?
A. Yes. All doses are recorded in a central database so each Pharmacy will know what a patient has received.
No-one asked if the second shot could be a different type from the first. I believe that question has not yet been resolved.
The media sessions are scheduled weekly on Wednesdays so you should see weekly updates similar to the above from all local media sources. The intent is to also stream them on You-Tube. This week’s event is available at the link below.
Update from NHH
Separately, Linda Davis, President and CEO of Northumberland Hills Hospital has said that NHH will be ramping-down on non-urgent surgeries. They have also accepted transfers (less than 10 so far) of patients from GTA hospitals in overcapacity situations. She reported that NHH does have some ICU capacity but human resource capacity is “perhaps our most significant challenge”. NHH is currently restricting visitors with only essential visitors permitted. That is: patients who are palliative or end-of-life; a support for a delivering mother; a parent/guardian of a child; or, a caregiver deemed essential for an individual with a specific need, at the discretion of the care team. (more re visitors here)
Highlights of statistics and other information are provided complete with daily updates at Cobourg News Blog Pages here.
- Covid-19 in Cobourg – provides the latest status of the pandemic statistics and impact in Cobourg.
- Vaccine Information for Cobourg and Northumberland – includes links to sites where you can schedule an appointment.
- Covid-19 Trend and Outbreaks – includes graph of new cases
- You Tube video of session with Dr. Natalie Bocking – this one hour video session is source of most of above information.
- Covid-19 – Science Table – Fighting COVID-19 in Ontario: The Way Forward – a critique of what works and what does not – below are headings; see full article for details.
What will Work
- Essential workplaces, only
- Paying essential workers to stay home when they are sick, exposed or need time to get vaccinated
- Accelerating the vaccination of essential workers and those who live in hot spots
- Limiting mobility: Focusing on public health guidance that works
- Keeping people safely connected
What will not work
- Policies that harm or neglect racialized, marginalized and other vulnerable populations will not be effective
- As noted in repeated studies from around the world, inconsistent policies with no clear link to scientific evidence are ineffective in fighting COVID-19.
- Policies that discourage safe outdoor activity will not control COVID-19