Health unit and hospital see worrying COVID-19 trends in Cornwall

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By Nick Seebruch
Health unit and hospital see worrying COVID-19 trends in Cornwall
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health with the EOHU.

CORNWALL, Ontario -The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) and the Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) issued a joint statement on Thursday, Oct. 7 outlining what they are calling worrying COVID-19 trends in the city.

As of Friday, Oct. 8 out of the 160 active COVID-19 cases in the EOHU, more than half, 83, were in Cornwall.

Additionally, the CCH had 18 COVID-19 patients in its care on Thursday, compared to just two around the same time in September. Currently, there are five patients in the CCH’s Critical Care Unit (CCU).

The CCH has recently re-introduced visitor restrictions. Unfortunately, there are currently eight CCH staff members who are stuck at home with COVID-19.

“The rate at which COVID-19 spreads in a community has a direct impact on its local hospital. It is very important for our patients that we maintain non-COVID related health care services such as elective surgeries, therefore we are pleading with the community: please take COVID-19 seriously, get vaccinated and stay vigilant,” said Jeanette Despatie, President and CEO of CCH.

Cornwall is lagging behind not just the province, but behind the rest of the EOHU in its vaccination rate. Currently less than 70 per cent of eligible individuals in Cornwall have received the full course of the COVID-19 vaccine, that is compared to 84 per cent in the rest of the EOHU.

“It is not a coincidence that we are seeing such a large spike in cases and hospitalizations in Cornwall. The vast majority of these are occurring in unvaccinated individuals,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the EOHU. “In addition, high rates of community COVID-19 transmission translate into higher rates of cases and outbreaks in congregate and school settings, which we’re now seeing.”

The EOHU and hospital are concerned about the consequences if these trends continue and the EOHU is pleading with the public to get vaccinated and follow public health guidelines.

“The solution is to increase the vaccination rate in the Cornwall area and to continue following public health guidelines, especially during this upcoming Thanksgiving Day weekend,” said Dr. Roumeliotis.

The EOHU is recommending the following guidelines for those gathering over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • Gatherings must respect the current limits (no more than 25 people indoors or 100 people outdoors)
  • If gathering with individuals who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or whose vaccination status is unknown, you must wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing
  • Try to keep gatherings small, and to hold them outdoors
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms (even mild ones), stay home
  • Virtual gatherings remain the safest option, especially if there are unvaccinated people or persons whose vaccination status is unknown

“While I understand that we all want to see our families after staying apart for so long, I am urging the public to take precautions to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to their loved ones,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “Given that children under 12 can’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the moment, the rest of us must take measures to keep them safe and prevent outbreaks in schools in the weeks following the long weekend.”

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