New COVID-19 modelling data from Hamilton public health is suggesting the city may need three months of lockdown measures before being able to step into a less restrictive level of the province’s reopening framework.
The assumptions are based on the city’s current state of shutdown and no further measures expected from the province or city to curb potential infections.
Dr. Doug Sider, a public health physician, said the data looks “ominous” but suggests getting a handle on the impacts of variants and growing a vaccine program in the weeks could avoid a longer shutdown.
“We’ve got three months before potentially we get down to levels of cases that will allow us to step down out of the gray lockdown and into the red control zone” Sider said.
Sider says controlling spread in households, social and recreational spaces, daycares, schools, workplaces and places of worship will help, in addition to a vaccination.
“The other huge thing that we can do is avail ourselves of the vaccinations, get as many vaccines into as many arms as quickly as possible, because this will be the bull work,” said Sider.
Should the extended lockdown measures work, public health anticipates relief from the current high rates of coronavirus hospitalizations in the city to drop with declining cases come June.
The public health modelling, created with Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joe’s, estimates case loads could peak in mid-May at 150 to 220 cases per day if strict measures and vaccinations decline.
The forecast also painted a different picture of hospitalizations between the current third wave and the first wave in 2020, with unvaccinated elderly populations the contrast.
“We are projecting overall a lower peak of hospitalizations than was the case, and a lot of this reduction in the peak of hospitalizations is as a result of the heavy emphasis on vaccination in the elderly populations, especially in long term care facilities and retirement homes,” Sider said.
However, the modelling predicts more negative impacts in the next few months on those in the 30 to 69 age range.
“But look at the projected peak that we’re anticipating will occur, reaching its maximum sometime in the middle of May, then decreasing as more and more vaccinations start to reverse and cause the downward trend,” said Sider.
Hamilton reported 119 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and another virus-related death.
The city’s 323rd death amid the pandemic was a resident in their 80s, according to public health.
Public health revealed three new outbreaks that were declared on Monday at two long-term care homes (LTCH) and another school.
The outbreak at the Dundurn Place LTCH involves a case among a single staff member while the second reported surge in as many days at Kelly’s residence also involves just one case with a resident.
The outbreak at St. Thomas More Catholic secondary is with two staff members who tested positive for the coronavirus.
A small outbreak at the Arby’s in Stoney Creek, which involved two case with workers, ended nine days after it was reported.
Hamilton has 48 outbreaks across the city involving 279 total cases as of April 6. Variant cases have been detected at 32 of those locations.
Twelve of the active outbreaks involve 46 cases among students and staff at city schools.
The city’s two hospital systems have a combined 109 patients being treated for COVID-19, 81 at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) facilities and 28 at St. Joe’s.
St. Joe’s hospitals are reporting acute care occupancy at 95 per cent as of Tuesday with HHS reporting 86 per cent occupancy.
Three area hospitals are experiencing outbreaks, accounting for 65 cases since mid-March and seven virus-related deaths.
Active cases are up again day over day by 40 to 860 as of April 6.
There have now been 13,530 total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began last year.
Hamilton is reporting that 113,331 vaccine doses have been put into residents’ arms as of April 5. The clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has administered the bulk of the shots, having jabbed about 54,000. Around 25,000 shots have been given at the St. Joe’s site, 19,000 through the mobile clinics, close to 11,000 at the large site at First Ontario and 5,000 in primary care settings.
Around 19.3 per cent of the city’s eligible population had received a vaccine as of April 5, according to public health.
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