Sudbury has highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in Ontario; 22 new cases, one death reported Thursday
An alarming spike in the number of new COVID-19 infections has Sudbury health officials concerned and calling for immediate action. Those concerns were heightened Thursday with reports of another COVID-related death in Sudbury, the area's 32nd since the start of the pandemic.
"While the province of Ontario is seeing improvements in COVID-19 case counts, trends in Greater Sudbury are going in the opposite direction. We are currently a COVID-19 hotspot, with a case rate that is among the highest in the province," Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts.
It has prompted the area's top doctor to issue a Class Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act requiring all who become infected with or are exposed to COVID-19 to follow public health's direction.
Thursday at 4 p.m., Public Health reported another 22 new cases, brining the area's total to 211 active cases.
There are currently three people at Health Sciences North hospitalized due to COVID-19 with eight others waiting for test results.
"Sudbury has the highest number of active cases of COVID per capita in the province," said HSN CEO Dominic Giroux. "Generally what we’ve seen through the pandemic is when the number of active cases of COVID-9 increases, the number of hospitalizations typically also increases in the subsequent days and weeks.”
It's exacerbating an already difficult overcrowding situation at the hospital, Giroux said. At one point, there were 574 patients admitted to a hospital built to hold just 441 patients.
"This does not include 60 patients receiving care at the Clarion Hotel," he added.
Sutcliffe said residents should take stock of their actions in light of the local COVID-19 spike.
"Now is the time for each of us to assess our individual actions and decisions and ramp up COVID-19 precautions—layer on the protective measures such as vaccination, masking, distancing, working from home, and importantly, staying home when even mildly unwell. We have the power in our hands to turn this around," Sutcliffe said.
She said laws are in place to ensure people follow health measures -- not that she's looking for more enforcement.
"I want to be clear we’re not looking to fine people -- that’s not the purpose of this," Sutcliffe said. "It's really to make sure people are aware how serious this is.”
Community spread is still a concern as the number of cases with no known source of exposure has increased over the last few months. As of Wednesday, there are seven active COVID-19 outbreaks within the City of Greater Sudbury:
- Memorial Park
- Sudbury Jail
- Overtime Sports Bar and Grill
- St. Francis Catholic School
- Pioneer Manor - Cedar Home
- Vale - South Mine
- Ecole separee Sainte-Marie
The outbreak at Sudbury Jail has reached 59 people infected, the one at Memorial Park has 21 cases and there are six cases between the two elementary schools.
"Locally, no single setting or sector is driving the current increase," Sutcliffe said. "The seven-day rate of new cases was 82.5 per 100 000 population, compared with 17 for the province of Ontario. Increases in active cases lead to subsequent increases in hospitalizations, and Health Sciences North already has the highest occupancy percentage among all Ontario hospitals that have more than 100 acute beds."
As of Oct. 14, 80.7 per cent of residents in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts that are currently eligible are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is slightly under the provincial average of 84 per cent. More than 2,400 people have received a third dose of the vaccine.
Of the local COVID-19 infections between June 1 and Oct. 20, 77 per cent have involved unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated people.
"As a community, we have not done anything wrong, but the recent numbers mean that we must do more things right," she said.