CORNWALL, Ontario – The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is expecting to receive its first doses of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine on Tuesday, according to Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health with the EOHU.
“The direction we got from Gen. Hillier himself, we will be focusing on long-term care residents and essential visitors,” Dr. Roumeliotis said. “Our Emergency Medical Services, both from Prescott-Russell & SD&G, will with our staff, be deploying to our long-term care facilities where we will be distributing the vaccine.”
Dr. Roumeliotis said that he hopes that the region will also soon receive doses of the Moderna version of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna version can be stored at warmer temperatures. The Pfizer-Biontech vaccine must be stored at -70 degree Celsius for the long-term, but is still good for up-to five days if stored at around minus two degrees Celsius.
“The good news is that we literally have a vaccine in our hands, the bad news is that our numbers are still going up,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “We still have to buckle down. Hopefully we won’t have to implement any further restrictions.”
This news comes in a week where the province, and the EOHU region are experiencing an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases.
The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases in the region is above 120 cases. According to the province, a rolling seven-day average of cases above 40 is considered to be in the red zone.
Even if there were not currently a province wide shutdown, the EOHU region would be in a shutdown based on the seven-day rolling average alone.
“You’re seeing a big steep increase in the Cornwall area,” said Dr. Paul. “We are clearly clearly above the red zone, into gray zone territory really.”
Currently, there are 565 active COVID-19 cases in the EOHU region. When broken down by municipality, there are 180 in Cornwall, 23 in the Northern Portion of Akwesasne, 51 in South Glengarry, 26 in South Stormont, six in South Dundas, 12 in North Dundas, 11 in North Stormont, 27 in North Glengarry, zero in East Hawkesbury, 17 in Hawkesbury, 18 in Champlain, 17 in The Nation, 16 in Casselman, 41 in Russel, 85 in Clarence-Rockland and 35 in Alfred and Plantagenet.
There are currently 15 individuals hospitalized and three in an Intensive Care Unit. There have been 36 deaths from COVID-19 in the EOHU region since March of 2020 and 1,805 cases in total.
On Jan. 7, the Cornwall Community Hospital stated that they were experiencing the strain of the pandemic.