DR. Paul Roumeliotis says paramedics and the Canadian Red Cross have helped at the Prescott and Russell Residence, while the region could return to Stage 2 restrictions.
DR. Paul Roumeliotis says paramedics and the Canadian Red Cross have helped at the Prescott and Russell Residence, while the region could return to Stage 2 restrictions.

Red Cross called in as Residence cases climb

Stephen Jeffery
EAP
Paramedics and the Canadian Red Cross were called in to help the Prescott and Russell Residence as the long-term care home recorded its first death from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Thirty-one residents and 17 employees had tested positive to COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon, of which 15 had been resolved. The first death related to the outbreak, of a resident at the facility, was announced on Saturday. More testing was due at the residence on Tuesday.

Six to 10 paramedics from Prescott and Russell Emergency Services will be sent in each day to deal with staffing shortages due to the virus. Canadian Red Cross representatives were at the residence on Monday afternoon to help with infection prevention and control. Longer term plans for ongoing Red Cross support will be determined in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the rising rate of transmission in the wider Prescott-Russell region could result in the region’s return to a modified Stage 2 lockdown, similar to those in Ottawa, Toronto, Peel and York. Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said he would speak to provincial officials on Tuesday about the next steps to curb the region’s growing rate.

At a press conference on Monday, Dr. Roumeliotis said the region had climbed into the “high transmission” area, in which new cases exceeded 25 people per 100,000 each week. The area has long been within the rate of 5 to 25 people per 100,000 range, which is considered moderate, but in recent weeks had reached as high as 37 and 48.

Dr. Roumeliotis said ScienceTable data on which the province relied showed some benefit to bringing in restrictions on indoor activities at those higher rates. “These decisions need to be weighed against potential harm to the economy,” he said. “It’s not just the numbers… there’s multiple things going on. We’re also really surrounded by hot zones, so those are factors that will play into a decision about whether we need to go into Stage 2.”

As of Monday, the region had recorded 125 new cases of COVID-19 in October, exceeding the 108 total new cases for all of September. Across the EOHU catchment area, 159 active cases were confirmed on Monday, of which 123 were reported in the Prescott-Russell region. The local cases included:

  • 65 in Hawkesbury;
  • 26 in Russell;
  • 20 in Clarence-Rockland;
  • 10 in The Nation;
  • 8 in Alfred and Plantagenet;
  • 6 in Champlain;
  • 4 in Casselman, and;
  • 1 in East Hawkesbury

Four people were hospitalised across the EOHU area, while a Cornwall resident was in intensive care. By Monday afternoon, 70,071 tests had been conducted in the area, while 435 cases had been confirmed since the start of the pandemic. A small outbreak was ongoing at St. Foyer St-Jacques Nursing Home in Embrun.

Elsewhere in the region, outbreaks were reported at the St-Joseph's Continuing Care Centre and Sandfield Place Retirement Home in Cornwall. Dr. Roumeliotis said the Cornwall cases were confined to sole residents who had been transferred to hospital for other health issues, but subsequently tested positive to COVID-19. Another outbreak continued at The Palace Retirement Home in Alexandria, where nine residents and two staff members tested positive.

Meanwhile, travellers from COVID hotspots were warned to stay away from the region, including those hoping to book ice time at arenas. Dr. Roumeliotis said local officials had been trying to prevent bookings from outside the area.

“A lot of our municipal partners are complying with that and not allowing those individuals to book the arena,” he said. “We’ve been telling people that you shouldn’t be travelling from one hot zone to a non-hot zone.”

Dr. Roumeliotis’ next media conference is due on Wednesday.