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York Region hospitals still very pressured by COVID-19: top doc

Wastewater signals, cases starting to tick upward ahead of expected surge in the fall
July 4, 2022

Our hospitals are still getting hit hard by COVID-19 as pandemic trends start to tick upward again, according to York Region public health.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are still pressuring the system, associate medical officer of health Dr. JoAnne Fernandes told regional council June 30. Public health is bracing for the possibility of things getting worse with a significant wave in the fall.

“Hospital occupancy and admissions for and with COVID have stabilized, but they remain persistently high,” she said. “Pressure on our hospitals remains to be very high, as well as challenges around staff burnout and capacity.”

Southlake Regional Health Centre reported 34 patients with COVID-19 June 29, including two in critical care. The region reported 62 hospitalizations for June 28, 30 more than the report from the previous Thursday.

Vaccinations are still mitigating the impact of the pandemic, Fernandes said. She added that public health is preparing for increased vaccination efforts in the fall to meet a rise in cases.

Vaughan Regional Councillor Mario Ferri said he gets calls from those asking about the effects of the fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, currently only available for those 60-plus.

“The vaccine is extremely safe and effective,” Fernandes replied. “The fourth dose is really essential to prevent some of these severe infections.”

Vaughan Regional Councillor Gino Rosati for more information to be spread out there about the vaccine and those who may have died due to it.

“Them people can make more informed decisions,” he said. “I’m not undermining the vaccine, I do agree vaccines have been historically effective at pretty well at eradicating diseases.”

Fernandes replied that any adverse events are carefully reviewed, and the data is shared throughout the province. But she repeated that the vaccine is safe, with millions of doses provided without adverse effects.

Wastewater signals have started to trend upward again after a decline. Fernandes said the summer uptick could impact the fall surge, but it can be hard to predict, with new Omicron subvariants becoming more pronounced.

“We will have a pretty significant surge of COVID in the fall,” she said. “More people may get infected in the summer, which means our fall surge may not be quite as pronounced, but all remains to be seen.”