Credit: Handout / Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and Modelling Consensus Table

Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Matthew Anderson, President and CEO of Ontario Health shared their projections with the public today during a morning press conference.

They shared a package of slides, which had been presented to the Ontario Cabinet last week. The following is a selection of slides of note from a Hamilton lenses.

Positivity Rate in Children Increases Significantly

The significant jump in positivity among children is the reasons school are closed and kids are doing their best to learn online. Nearly 1-in-5 tests of children between the ages of 9 to 13 came back positive in the final week of December.

The Key Findings Slide

Simply put, we already know our cases are increasing and our hospitals are strained. We are about to encounter the “UK” B117 variant which spreads much more easily. It is not just COVID which will kill people if we overwhelm our health care capacity – collisions, accidents, heart attacks, and other medical mishaps which can be treated with intensive care and surgery will be fatal due to lack of space and staff.

Long Term Care Outbreak

COVID in the community becomes COVID in Long-Term Care homes. Even with all precautions, the reality is this virus is viral – it spreads. Staff or visitors, who test negative even a day prior, can be in the incubation period. They become asymptomatic spreads. Masks and shields decrease the risk of spread, they do not eliminate it.

ICU Capacity

Intensive Care is just that – intensive. It requires specialized equipment and highly trained health care staff. There are limited amounts of both. Already, as the chart shows, many ICUs are well over capacity. When they are 80% occupied, there is the risk that an major incident – an accident, collision, etc – will result in otherwise preventable deaths.

Hamilton General is already overcapacity.
Juravinski is already over 80% capacity, only 2 free beds. This is the cancer centre, those beds could be needed for cancer patients.
Joseph Brant in Burlington is just over 80% capacity. Brantford General and St. Joe’s Hamilton are approaching the 80% theshold.

The record number of cases of the past three weeks will result in more ICU hospitalizations as symptoms worsen following active infection with COVID.

Restrictions Not Enough to Decrease Movement

People were very mobile during the Christmas period. However, this includes people doing porch drops who did not visit with others. The data shows movement, not activity. Nonetheless, the mobility data shows a lot more movement than what experts say is necessary to show clear social bubbles and prevent the spread of COVID.

Further, the number of people returning to workplaces – including offices – is higher than what the experts say is needed to bring COVID under control.

Pre-Holiday Shopping

What is interesting here is that Hamilton did not see a huge spike in retail visits just before Christmas, however, many of our retails spaces were already closed. In 905 areas where retail was open, there were significant spikes in retail visits. This could be people crossing from the “Grey Zone” into the “Red Zone” areas — including Halton.

Hamilton Processing Tests Well

Credit is due to Hamilton’s hospitals, regional labs, and public health. 91% of tests are being processed within 48 hours. This is the second highest rate in Ontario, Toronto is 92%.

Positivity Rate in Hamilton Inching Upwards

Hamilton’s COVID Test Positivity Rate is more than double the threshold for Control. We are over 6%, Control is under 2.5%.

Weekly Incidence Rate 4x Control Limit

Hamilton’s Weekly Incidence Rate continues to increase, just above average for Ontario, but nearly four times the “Control” theshold. It will be a lot of work to bring it back under the Control/Restrict/Protest thresholds.


2 replies on “Ontario COVID Science Advisory Table Brief – Hamilton Information”

  1. You happen to glance a little too quickly about the LTC outbreaks. In Hamilton, these numbers are almost 50% of the cases. Please explain how these new “Stay-at-home” measures are going to help them?

    1. JM,

      We definitely have a problem of not enough data. Hamilton Public Health states nearly 50% of cases are from close contact transmission. 28% of cases are “community acquired” meaning unknown origin, 16% are outbreak associated. Outbreak associated includes long-term care homes.

      Experts state that “Stay-at-Home” orders are necessary because of community spread and strain upon hospitals. There is a good discussion to be had about the ineffectiveness of measures.

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