Jeff Green | May 12, 2021

“We are in for a difficult few weeks, the most dangerous of the pandemic thus far,” said Dr. Kieran Moore last week. “Even if we were to come out of the 'stay at home order' now, we would be in the provincial red zone, so we would still see significant restrictions and community risk.”

As of Tuesday (May 11), the seven-day case rate in the region was over 42 per 100,000, which is in the red zone, in the Ontario colour coded system. The positive testing rate, at 1.57%, is better, in the orange zone, partly because “people have been good, very good, at coming forward to be tested, after learning they have been exposed to the virus and if they are experiencing symptoms, Moore said.

The major driver of cases has been the outbreak at a construction site in Kingston that came to light about ten days ago.

Directly and indirectly, through secondary transmission, it is responsible for about 2/3 of the case rate in the region, Moore confirmed late last week.

With new cases running between 10 and 20 each day, over the last week, 17 on Monday (May 10), KFLAPH is now asking everyone who works in construction in KFL&A to submit to testing once every two weeks until the outbreak is under control.

“Last week with a rise in cases (an outbreak) associated with construction workers, KFL&A Public Health has implemented a surveillance testing initiative beginning Tuesday, May 11. Construction workers in KFL&A are recommended to get asymptomatic testing done once every two weeks at the assessment centre in Kingston. This initiative will be a temporary measure put in place while the region continues to report high levels of COVID-19 activity, especially variants of concern that have a higher transmission rate,” said a KFLAPH press release on Tuesday morning (May 11).

The assessment centre, at the Beechgrove Complex in Kingston, will remain open until 8:30 pm between Tuesdays and Thursdays, to provide an extra opportunity for testing, and a separate booking link has been set up for construction workers to quickly book an appointment.

“Because this outbreak took place at a workplace that is frequented by workers from throughout KFL&A and from neighbouring regions, its impact is not just being felt in Kingston.

“We have cases in Flinton, Hartington, Battersea, Inverary, Hartington, Napanee, Tamworth, Verona, throughout KFL&A,”said Moore.

The total case rate in South Frontenac (since March 1, 2020), hit 100 on Monday (May 10) . Just two weeks earlier, on April 26, it had been 83.

That's 17 cases in 14 days, 1.2 cases per day, 6 times higher than the rate in South Frontenac up to that point (83 cases in 420 days = 0.2 cases per day)

There are 4 people from the KFL&A region in hospital, and 2 of them are in under Intensive Care. The third COVID death in KFL&A was recorded over the weekend.

The vaccination roll out continues to proceed in the region, and Dr. Moore said last week that Public Health has been working to make sure that the vaccination program in KFL&A is “not just Kingston based”.

He said KFLAPH has been looking at geographical data as well as age cohort data as it works to provide opportunities for vaccination.

“Because we gather that data, we realised that the vaccination rate in North Frontenac is low, so we have organised a clinic for May 10 in Plevna” Moore said.

A clinic was also held in Northbrook on Friday, May 7, operated by the Lakelands Family Health Team, with volunteers from the Land O'Lakes Lions Club and others. Two hundred eighty two people were immunized. Clinics are scheduled for May 21 and May 28 as well. The next clinic in Sharbot Lake, operated by the Sharbot Lake Family Health Team, will take place on May 29.

Over 46% of the eligible population in KFL&A have received a first dose of vaccine. The rate has been steadily increasing, but with the pharmacy roll out on hold, because of a lack of supply, the rate of increase has slowed.

The percentage will drop in the coming days because children between 12 and 15 will be entering the eligibility roll, since vaccine has now been approved for that age group, which will raise the pool of eligible people in KFLAPH. There are 188,000 people who are eligible now, of a total population that is over 210,000.

KFLAPH said they are waiting for further direction from the provincial government, on vaccinating individuals 12-16 years of age, and will let the public know when the new cohort is added to their COVID dashboard.

As new groups are added to the eligibility list, supply is becoming an issue, Moore indicated.

Workers who cannot work at home, which includes retail and restaurant employees and construction workers, are now eligible to book at vaccination appointment on the provincial system, as is everyone who turns 40 in 2021.

“It could take several weeks to get an appointment.” Dr. Moore said.

About 1500 people are getting the vaccine each day in KFL&A, at the mass clinics in Kingston and Napanee, and at rural clinics, in association with primary care physicians, but Moore said that between KLFAPH and its partners, “we could easily do 5,000”. We just need the supply.”

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