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Stuck in stage 1: Here's where Newmarket, York Region are in COVID-19 recovery

UPDATE: 'York Region Public Health anticipates hearing more about our readiness to transition to stage 2 on June 15," spokesperson says
2020 04 22 Main Newmarket COVID-19
Main Street Newmarket during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo/Greg King for NewmarketToday

While York Region isn't moving into the next reopening phase along with the majority of the province's regions on Friday, the flattening of the curve is steadily progressing.

York Region Public Health is reporting 22 new cases June 8, which is bang on with the average daily case count in the last seven days — a declining trend in the number of new cases for at least seven days is one of Ontario's measures for tracking the progress to reopening. On June 1, public health tracked a seven-day moving average of 30.9 cases.

One additional case is being reported for Newmarket today, with total cases reaching 121, however, active cases have dropped to 29, or 77 per cent resolved. The majority of the active cases in Newmarket, at 21, are a result of exposure in the community.

"York Region continues to follow the lead of the provincial government and is supportive of the jurisdictional re-opening of the province as the most effective way to balance economic challenges with the health and safety of the community," York Region spokesperson Patrick Casey said.

"As the number of positive cases continues to decrease, York Region remains committed to working with partners at all levels of government to begin easing restrictions and gradually re-open our local economy," Casey added. 

York Region Public Health will continue to report recovery measures to the Ministry of Health and, at the beginning of each week, the province will assess the recovery status of each region in stage 1 to determine if they are ready to move into stage 2 at the end of the week

"York Region Public Health anticipates hearing more about our readiness to transition to stage 2 on June 15," Casey said.

As in most York Region municipalities, the pandemic in Newmarket has been fuelled by outbreak cases, the majority of which are resolved — of Newmarket's 130 outbreak cases, 82 per cent are recovered.

Cases have steadily declined in Newmarket, from a peak of 20 new cases reported April 19 when testing was mandated at all long-term cares homes. 

The seven-day moving average in Newmarket is 1.8 cases as of June 7, a drop from 2.4 cases June 1. Vaughan, which accounts for the majority of the region's cases at 44 per cent, has a seven-day rolling average of 9.3 cases today, a sharp decline from the 18.7 case average June 1.

Declines in institutional outbreaks, hospital capacity, the time for public health to contact cases from the date of report, and the percentage of COVID-19 positive tests that are not long-term care residents are other recovery benchmarks.

There has been a notable flip in COVID-19 trends in recent weeks as York Region gets its outbreaks under control, with cases acquired outside of institutions accounting for the majority of new cases.

In the last seven days, of 193 new cases, only 39 were acquired as a result of an outbreak. Of 65 outbreaks, only 12 are active, including one in Newmarket.

Outbreak cases still currently account for the majority of the region's 2,650 cases, numbering 944, or 36 per cent, however, more than two-thirds are now resolved.

Of both the 834 close contact and 538 community transmission cases, 80 per cent are resolved. 

As we move forward, case counts will continue to fluctuate, particularly as testing increases — another recovery measure, according to York Region medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji. For instance, public health reported a spike of 101 cases June 2 and 3, with some of those cases attributed to delayed reporting by the William Osler Health System in April.

"As testing has increased, we are seeing more cases detected — this isn't necessarily bad, as we want to ensure that the cases, as well as the close contacts, are self isolating and preventing the transmission of the virus into the community," he said in video update June 5.

Public health is exploring the possibility of doing mobile testing, particularly for workplaces where there are outbreaks, which would boost testing numbers, he said.

"We need to be very vigilant with respect to sticking to the hygiene principles rigorously, as we expect to see more cases and outbreak in the months ahead," Dr. Kurji added.

Let's compare the situation, with Peel Region, where stage 2 reopening is also on hold, and neighbouring Simcoe County, which is progressing to stage 2. 

York Region, 1.2 million population, stage 1

  • 2,650 confirmed cases
  • 75 per cent recovered
  • 450 active cases
  • 20 per cent community acquired
  • 36 per cent institutional exposure 
  • Cases per 100,000 population*: 353 Vaughan, 291 Georgina, 248 Newmarket, 207 East Gwillimbury, 175 Aurora, 161 Markham, 130 Richmond Hill, 129 King, 128 Whitchurch-Stouffville
  • 54 hospitalized, 18 ICU
  • 65 outbreaks, 1,174 cases
  • 222 deaths, 78 per cent outbreak related 

*Represents the population of residents at risk of acquiring COVID-19

Peel Region, 1.4 million population, stage 1

  • 5,253 confirmed and probable cases
  • 74 per cent recovered
  • 1,169 active cases
  • 71 per cent community acquired
  • 27 per cent institutional exposure
  • Cases per 100K population: 283 Mississauga, 388 Brampton, 150 Caledon
  • 276 hospitalized, 38 ICU
  • 37 outbreaks, 1,037 cases
  • 280 deaths, 66 per cent outbreak related

Simcoe County, 446,000 population

  • Simcoe Muskoka public health has reported 498 cases
  • 84 per cent recovered
  • 80 active cases
  • 41 per cent community acquired
  • 21 per cent institutional exposure
  • Cases per 100K population: 90.7 Simcoe County, 30.9 District of Muskoka
  • 7 hospitalized
  • 10 outbreaks, 107 cases
  • 36 deaths, 67 per cent outbreak related


Of 2,650 (+22) cases in York Region:

  • 1,166 (+5) are confirmed in Vaughan, 94 deaths, 882 (76%) resolved;
  • 574 (+9) in Markham, 46 deaths, 411 (72%) resolved;
  • 273 (+3) in Richmond Hill, 8 deaths, 208 (76%) resolved;
  • 221 (+1) in Newmarket, 22 deaths, 170 (77%) resolved; 
  • 142 (+1) in Georgina, 32 deaths, 99 (70%) resolved;
  • 105 in Aurora, 14 deaths, 78 (74%) resolved;
  • 66 (+1) in Whitchurch-Stouffville, 1 death, 53 (80%) resolved;
  • 58 (+1) in East Gwillimbury; 1 death; 48 (83%) resolved;
  • 35 (+1) in King, 3 deaths, 25 (71%) resolved.