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York Region feeling sixth COVID-19 wave, but top doc 'optimistic' for future
April 20, 2022

York Region’s medical officer of health said the impact of the sixth COVID-19 wave is being felt in hospitals but he is optimistic for the future.

Dr. Barry Pakes said in an April 18 video update that there has been a dramatic increase in community transmission. He said Ontario modelling indicates a continued rise in hospitalization, and COVID-19 related absenteeism in health care settings.

But he added that locally, hospitals are reporting admissions have “very recently stabilized.” He said he is optimistic about the future with warming weather and cresting wastewater signal levels.

“This increase appears to be slowing somewhat in York Region and across Ontario and may have peaked, but that levelling off is still tentative,” he said. “We are hopeful this increase in hospitalization will be smaller than the last Omicron wave thanks to third and fourth (vaccination) doses that so many York Region residents have received to protect themselves and their community.”

York Region had 66 hospitalized with COVID-19 as of April 14, the highest total since February. The wastewater signal has reached approximately 40 per cent of the January peak, according to the regional COVID-19 dashboard.

With the sixth wave well underway, public health sent a letter to schools and their families urging masking in those settings.

“Everyone should wear a well-fitted, three-layer mask or a medical mask in classrooms,” Pakes said. “Wearing a mask significantly reduces transmission and helps to prevent the need for school closures due to staff shortages.”

Pakes repeated recommendations for all to wear masks in indoor settings that are confined, crowded, or will put you in close contact.

“York Region residents are continuing to mask in most indoor settings,” Pakes said. “Thank you for making the right choice.”

Pakes also highlighted antiviral COVID-19 treatments becoming more available for residents last week, with 13 pharmacies distributing them in Newmarket.

He spoke to the need for continued vaccination efforts, citing the risk of long-COVID symptoms as higher among the unvaccinated.

“There are no treatments for long COVID, so your best protection is prevention,” he said.