CORNWALL, Ontario – Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) was invited to brief Cornwall City Council on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.
He explained that September was the highest month for new COVID-19 cases across the EOHU region, including Cornwall, with the exception of October, which has since more than doubled the number of new cases seen in September.
There have been 550 recorded cases of COVID-19 since March, with 225 currently active.
“We had more case in September than in March and April, and we more than doubled in October and we aren’t even at the end of October yet,” Dr. Roumeliotis explained, saying that the rising numbers had brought the region to the attention of the Ministry of Health last week, with the province nearly ordering the region to recede back into Stage 2 of the provincial pandemic recovery.
In Cornwall currently there are currently 14 active cases of COVID-19, with 49 overall since the start of the pandemic. There are currently seven people in the region who are hospitalized with COVID-19, two of which are in an Intensive Care Unit. There have been 17 deaths because of COVID-19.
The positivity rate of COVID-19 in the region has risen from 0.6 per cent in March to about 2.5 per cent at present.
Dr. Roumeliotis explained that his reaction to the increase in numbers was a middle of the road approach. Late Friday night, Oct. 23, Dr. Roumeliotis issued a new Section 22 order placing new regulations on restaurants, gyms, and personal care services, limiting numbers of patrons allowed inside facilities, and requiring patrons to wear masks, and for owners to take contact information for tracing purposes.
READ MORE: EOHU issues temporary restrictions for banquet halls, food & drink establishments, gyms, more
He went on to say that he had spoken to some restaurant owners who felt that these new regulations were not overly onerous.
An issue that councillors brought up with Dr. Roumeliotis was of Quebecers coming to Cornwall to avoid COVID-19 restrictions in their own province.
“I think that we need to look at a border closure on Sunday at the very least because we are seeing a large number of Quebec plates in our parking lots,” said Councillor Todd Bennett.
Dr. Roumeliotis said that closing the border was something that was not in his power, but that he has been having ongoing discussions about such a move with MPP Jim McDonell who represents the riding of Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry.
In terms of Halloween celebrations this year, Dr. Roumeliotis told Council that he would not forbid traditional Halloween celebrations, but did discourage them.
“Obviously no Halloween parties,” he said. “We aren’t forbidding it, we are discouraging it.”
“We are discouraging traditional Trick-or-Treating,” he went on to say. “We don’t want people to gather. We’ve had cases from students gathering in the school yard. We don’t want people gathering.”
Dr. Roumeliotis promised Council for more specific data to better help communicate with residents of Cornwall. He also praised Cornwall-SDG Paramedics who have been conducting at home testing, and testing in long-term care facilities.
“SDG Paramedics have been excellent, they have been our mobile wing of testing,” he said. “We are tremendously appreciative of that.”