By Kaitlyn Clark
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—After only a week in the Yellow – Protect category of the Province’s COVID-19 Response Framework, Haldimand Norfolk was shifted back up to the Orange — Restrict level on Monday, March 8, 2021.
The decision was announced March 5. MPP Toby Barrett’s office stated the move “was based on an in- crease in the number of cases per 100,000.”
“If we all continue to do our part by wearing our mask and social distancing, I am sure we will see our infection rate drop again very soon,” said Barrett. “As vaccinations roll out, I am confident the days ahead will be much brighter.”
The seven-day rolling average on March 5 for Haldimand Norfolk was 3.71 new cases per day. On February 26, when the Province announced Haldimand Norfolk would be moving to Yellow March 1, the seven-day rolling average was 3.29 new cases per day.
When asked about why the Province would change Haldimand Norfolk’s designation after only a week and with relatively similar case counts, local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai said, “That’s for the Province to explain the framework and its decision-making related to the framework…. One general comment I would say is that when one looks at epidemiological data and makes determinations, you have to take all the data within its overall context. This health district is adjacent to other health districts and one factor that might weigh on people’s minds is the background risk … (in the province, adjacent regions, and in the community) and try to meld all of those factors into making a final determination.”
The vaccination rollout is continuing throughout the health district. Approximately 9,700 doses had been distributed as of Tuesday, with 1,580 people completing both required doses.
“We had a great, successful weekend where we put out almost 3,000 vaccinations over the last couple days with the first major clinic being opened in Cayuga,” said Sarah Page, Norfolk’s Chief of Paramedic Services and the Haldimand Norfolk vaccine rollout lead, on Monday. “Great success and teamwork together with the family health teams, hospitals, paramedics, firefighters, and the health unit to ensure that we had a smooth operation.”
Nesathurai noted that “mass vaccination” refers to vaccination of a large number of people in a short period of time, which should be in the context of the community: “In our health district, because it’s a district that’s about 80 by 50 kilometres, you want to be able to have vaccination services throughout the health district. So, to the extent that we have something that one could call a mass vaccination centre I think that program has already been effectuated.”
Page agreed, stating, “We have started in the Cayuga site and we started conservatively this week with between 600 to 700 each day and we feel we can potentially ramp that up to between 1,000 to 1,200 per day. We’ll be looking at the Delhi arena as opening probably in the middle of April to effectuate one of each county.”
“We’re working on scheduling right now and working around staff. We do have the family doctor clinics running every day this week as well as the Norfolk General clinic is running every day this week,” said Page, noting that additional clinics are being done for Mississaugas of the Credit members. Smaller clinics run eight hours a day, while the larger sites run 12 hours a day. Vaccination targets are dependent on the supply being available.
St. Michael’s School in Dunnville announced, “Due to the number of active COVID-19 cases, and to ensure the safety of all students, staff, and community members, in consultation with Public Health, St. Michael’s Dunnville will be closed up to, and including, Friday, March 19, 2021. Before and after school child programs and the onsite childcare centre are also closed. As of this time, the school is scheduled to re- open on Monday, March 22, 2021.”
Nesathurai said there are no other schools closed in the health district related to COVID-19. He added, “St. Michael’s is closed because the school board made a decision to close the school after having a dialogue with the Public Health service.”
On Tuesday there were single active COVID-19 cases at Thompson Creek and Mapleview Elementary, along with four cases at McKinnon Park Secondary, according to the Province’s tracker.
St. Michael’s was not listed on the tracker as of press time.
A request to the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board for the current active COVID-19 case count at St. Michael’s did not receive a response as of press time.