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Hamilton reports 147 new COVID-19 cases, HHS modelling suggests ‘steep decrease’ by June

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An infection prevention specialist with Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) told staff on Thursday that he expects to see “steep decreases” in the city’s COVID-19 case numbers in the last few weeks of the province’s stay-at-home order.

Dr. Dominik Mertz said new modelling shows that one of the city’s “most plausible scenarios” could be about half the current average cases per 100,000 population, which is 30.

“Based on this model, we will be roughly 10 new cases per 100,000 by the end of June, which is still more than we would have had between the second and third wave,” Mertz said.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 3,400 new COVID-19 cases, 26 deaths

Unlike the first wave, the 80-plus age group is expected to come out of the latest wave relatively unscathed in terms of cases as people aged 20 to 59 are currently facing the brunt of new infections.

As of Thursday, more than 67 per cent of Hamilton’s 1,204 active cases are with residents between the ages of 20 and 50, according to public health data. Only about two per cent of active cases involve people in their 80s.

“What you clearly see, compared to what we’ve seen the second wave in the 80-plus age group, we hardly see anything happening currently,” Mertz said.

“Obviously, that’s the effect of the vaccine.”

Meanwhile, 58 patients were transferred to west region hospitals, including Hamilton, in the past week, reaching a total of 259 since transfer programs began in late 2020.

HHS EVP and CEO Sharon Pierson said the bulk of patient transfers to Hamilton have been coming from William Osler Health System in Etobicoke.

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Pierson said a recent move to increase bed capacity at HHS by 43 per cent and the redeployment of 230 staff is probably all the agency is going to need by the time the third wave ends.

“We see a glimmer of hope that we may not need that additional capacity, but of course we will ensure everything’s in place in case we do,” Pierson told staff.

Patients with COVID-19 within the city’s two hospital agencies stands at 149, with 99 at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) and 50 in St. Joe’s.

HHS hospitals are now running at about 109 per cent capacity, according to Pierson. Forty-nine COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units (ICU).

Compounding the problem are outbreaks at four HHS hospitals, including Hamilton General, the Juravinski and St. Peter’s. Combined, the outbreaks involve 40 people – including six staff members.

In all, there are 105 staff members and physicians isolating in connection with COVID-19 contact tracing investigations in the agency’s hospitals.

Hamilton reports 147 new COVID-19 cases, compliance orders issued for three outbreaks

Hamilton reported 147 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday and has ongoing investigations at three locations in outbreaks.

Public health orders under Section 22  are in effect at a workplace and two seniors’ homes as of Thursday in connection with COVID-19 inspections between April 23 and May 5.

The order at National Steel Car was issued by associate medical officer of health Dr. Ninh Tran on May 4 and extends the outlet’s closure for no less than 10 more days. Tran alleged staff continued to work at the location through a voluntary closure tied to an outbreak declared on April 23.

Read more: More groups eligible to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Ontario

“There is an active workplace outbreak of COVID-19 in the facility, based on documentation received the facility has employees diagnosed with COVID-19 while working on site during the voluntary closure and the measures in this order are necessary to respond to and to limit the spread of infection,” Tran said in the order.

The order instructed the manufacturer to remain closed, conduct screenings, operate with minimal essential employees, maintain workplace disinfection protocols, provide hygiene supplies, keep a contact list of those on site and ensure staff understand contact tracing and isolation instructions.

On Tuesday, the operation told its team members through a Facebook post that it would remain closed until May 17 for health and safety reasons.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in consultation with Public Health Hamilton, we have decided to temporarily suspend our manufacturing operations for an additional week,” the post said.

Global News has reached out to National Steel Car for comment but has not received an answer to any queries as of Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, public health also issued two separate orders in late April to a pair of homes with seniors in outbreaks.

Read more: Canada slaps 2 with thousands in fines for faked COVID-19 pre-flight tests

Heritage Green nursing home and Evergreen Manor retirement home were issued orders under Section 22 “for breaches in infection and control measures.”

Both are asking operators to complete 13 actions tied to screening protocols, contact tracing, maintaining personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene and sanitizing of the facilities.

The outbreak at Heritage Green has been going on since April 10 and involves 10 cases among four residents and six staffers. The surge at Evergreen Manor, which began on April 29, involves 18 residents and two workers.

Hamilton has 36 outbreaks as of Thursday involving over 340 people.

The largest involves 67 total cases among 66 tenants and one staff member at central Hamilton high-rise Rebecca Towers. Officials say there are currently 28 active cases in the surge.

On Thursday, Hamilton paramedics began testing all residents at the 164-unit building at 235 Rebecca St. The outbreak recorded one virus-related death.

The city reported just two new outbreaks as of Wednesday at Assured Automotive on the Mountain and the Medallion Corporation in central Hamilton. Each case involves a pair of workers.

The only outbreak closed was at Goulet Cleaning in Waterdown with five cases over eight days.

Read more: Province urged to add three Hamilton COVID-19 hot spots to its vaccine booking system

Over 205,000 vaccines administered in Hamilton, AstraZeneca walk-in option begins

On Thursday, Hamilton topped 205,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses administered through city clinics, local hospitals, primary care partners and pharmacies.

Public health says 205,574 shots have been given out as of the end of the day on Wednesday.

The city will expand its COVID-19 vaccination plan on Thursday with a one-week Oxford-AstraZeneca clinic at the David Braley Health Sciences Centre on Main Street East.

Read more: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for Canadians 12 and over, Health Canada says

The clinic runs May 6 to 13 between 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Walk-ins are available Thursday through Sunday, while appointments will take place every day until May 13.

Appointments for the shots can be booked through the public health hotline (905-974-9848, option 7).

Hamiltonians 50 years of age and older, individuals considered to have high-risk health conditions and those who cannot work from home will also be able to book appointments with the province’s online portal.

Read more: Herd immunity for COVID-19 may not be reached in Canada, experts say

As of Wednesday, Canada is reporting that just over 11.1 million people have received at least one vaccine shot, while Ontario says about 5.7 million have gotten jabs with just over 384,000 fully vaccinated.

Just over 38 per cent of Hamiltonians over the age of 16 have received a vaccine to date.