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'Not quite out of the woods': York Region sees 5 more deaths, 45 new COVID-19 cases

Cases are still climbing  — Newmarket has 3 more, now totalling 142 — and further spikes can be predicted as a result of a backlog of 12,000 test results at the province, medical officer of health says
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The Associated Press/Wilfredo Lee

"We're not quite out of the woods yet," says the medical officer of health as York Region reports five more COVID-19 related deaths, 45 more cases and a jump in hospitalized patients today, May 1.

"While our graphs seem to show a flattening of the curve ... what I do wish to caution you about is that, from time to time, we do see some spikes in the number of cases and, more recently, there has actually been a backlog of the processing of the lab tests, so we're not quite out of the woods," said Dr. Karim Kurji in an update on York Region's COVID-19 situation today.

While it's "very good news in general," Kurji added that institutional outbreaks in long-term care, retirement and group homes are a challenge over which public health is slowly gaining control.

Increasing by 24 to 522 cases, institutional outbreak remains the major cause — at 33 per cent — of COVID-19 in York Region's 1,568 cases.

Institutional outbreak cases account for 63 per cent of Newmarket's now 142 cases. 

Southlake Regional Health Centre is the first hospital in York Region to declare a COVID-19 outbreak, with two patients and one health-care worker testing positive.

While the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in York Region dropped from 40 to 38 today, the death toll rose again. Of the region's 106 deaths, 75 are as a result of an outbreak.

A 68-year-old Richmond Hill woman died at the Reactivation Care Centre (City of Toronto) at Mackenzie Health on Monday, April 27, three days after the onset of symptoms.

An 85-year-old Markham was the third resident to die at Bethany Lodge Long-term Care Home on April 30. 

An 87-year-old Markham man is the third resident to die at Sunrise of Unionville Senior Living on April 29.

Two other COVID-19 deaths are an 82-year-old Vaughan woman at Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill on April 29, and a 49-year-old Markham woman on April 30, both close contact acquired cases.

After a reduction of daily cases reported in the last week, new cases in York Region jumped by 45 today, to 1,568 in total. 

A backlog of nearly 12,000 samples at the provincial lab will have an impact on York Region's numbers, Patrick Casey, York Region's director of corporate communications, cautioned.

"It is expected the region’s daily numbers may see an increase, depending on the number of specimens that come back positive and whether they are from institutional or community settings," he said.

The number of hospitalized patients in York Region increased from 56 to 65 today, with 15 cases critically ill in ICU. 

Resolved cases in the region increased by 24 today, bringing the total to 698, or 45 per cent.

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings and non-essential businesses anticipated in the weeks ahead, Dr. Kurji urged residents to continue to practise good hand hygiene and physical distancing.

"This will be the new sort of normal that we have the live with," he said. "This virus cannot be underestimated, it has managed to penetrate our defences and get into vulnerable populations. We have seen some families lose two individuals in the same family.

"It will be very important for us to continue being vigilant and practising all these particular good hygiene principles and physical distancing to some degree, as well in the future."

Health-care workers with COVID-19 increased from 85 to 86 today: eight are in Newmarket; four in Aurora, one in East Gwillimbury, one in Georgina, five in Whitchurch-Stouffville; seven in Richmond Hill, 25 in Vaughan; and 35 in Markham.

Of 1,568 cases (+46 today) in York Region:

  • 665 are confirmed in Vaughan (+ 19 today), 38 deaths, 360 resolved;
  • 371 in Markham (+ 9 today), 40 deaths, 134 resolved;
  • 164 in Richmond Hill (+ 5 today), 5 deaths, 97 resolved;
  • 142 (+ 3 today) in Newmarket, 10 deaths, 37 resolved; 
  • 74 in Aurora (+ 1 today), 10 deaths, 29 resolved;
  • 58 in Georgina (+ 6 today), 4 resolved;
  • 36 (+ 1 today) in East Gwillimbury; 1 death; 8 resolved;
  • 33 (+ 1 today) in Whitchurch-Stouffville, 13 resolved;
  • 21 in King, 2 deaths, 16 resolved.

As of 3 p.m. April 30, Southlake Regional Health Centre has five COVID-19 patients, three on ventilators, in ICU. Seventeen COVID-19 patients are in inpatient units. The number of inpatients under investigation for COVID-19 has jumped from 14 to 45. Total deaths have increased by one to eight.