Newmarket and York Region marked another record-high increase in COVID-19 cases today, Jan. 9, at 31 and 522 respectively, as well as institutional outbreaks, which is taking a toll at Southlake Regional Health Centre.
After some dips to kick off the new year, cases have steadily climbed to new highs during the second week of January. Newmarket's previous single-day record for new cases was 29 on Jan. 5, and York Region's previous high was reported yesterday at 474 cases.
With the soaring case counts comes another outbreak at Southlake, bringing the Newmarket hospital's total active outbreaks to four, with at least 18 patients and and 21 health-care workers confirmed with the virus, according to York Region Public Health.
As record-high case numbers are being reached during the second wave of the pandemic, the most urgent surgical cases have continued at Southlake, however, some elective surgeries are now being postponed, according to Southlake corporate communications manager Kathryn Perrier.
"We understand that it is difficult for those patients who are waiting for surgery. Right now we are focused on making things as safe as possible for our patients, staff and physicians and, as a result, we have had to postpone some cases," she said.
Critical care beds at the Newmarket hospital are at 91 per cent capacity with 30 patients — seven of whom have COVID-19 — as of Jan. 8. On inpatient units, 60 patients have COVID-19.
"As we are caring for record-high numbers of patients with COVID-19 and rising numbers of cases in the community, staffing is a challenge," Perrier said.
"Resuming surgical services to our full capacity to help address the backlog of cases depends on the hospital’s capacity."
There are also record numbers of outbreaks at long-term care, retirement and group homes, and hospitals — 47 in York Region for Jan. 3 to 9, compared to the previous high of 38 in April 26 to May 2.
Newmarket has a record high of 11 active institutional outbreaks for Jan. 3 to 9, compared to the previous high of six April 26 to May 2 during the first wave of the pandemic.
The most severe outbreaks in Newmarket are at Newmarket Health Centre, with 25 patients — three of whom have died — and 28 health-care workers infected, and in a medical inpatient unit at Southlake with 10 patients and 18 heath-care workers confirmed with the virus, according to the public health unit.
As well as the additional Southlake outbreak declared today, with one health-care worker confirmed with COVID, the third outbreak of the pandemic was declared at neighbouring Southlake Residential Care Village, with one resident and three health-care workers of the long-term care facility testing positive with the virus as of Jan. 9.
Southlake's outbreaks are on five separate units — four units at the main hospital in Newmarket and one at the Restorative Care Unit on Church Street in north Toronto, where eight staff and 16 patients have tested positive as of Jan. 6, said Perrier.
As well as the medical inpatient unit outbreak, outbreaks have been ongoing in cancer care (two staff and three patients) and surgery (two staff and two patients), she said.
An outbreak is declared when a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in a patient or staff person has been transmitted in a unit, according to Perrier.
"We want to remind everyone to follow public health guidelines, to continue to wear a mask, clean your hands regularly and limit your contact with others outside your household," she said.