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York Region begins COVID-19 testing of 5,000 residents and staff of seniors, group homes

A fifth Newmarket resident has died at Mackenzie Place Long-term Care, the location of York Region's most serious COVID-19 outbreak
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York Region is "aggressively moving forward" with the 5,000 COVID-19 tests required for all residents and staff at long-term care and group homes, according to its medical officer of health.

"We're trying to be as fast as we can," Dr. Karim Kurji said in a video update today, regarding the Ministry of Health/Long-term Care requirement that all residents and staff — asymptomatic and symptomatic — of long-term care, retirement and group homes be tested for COVID-19.

Recently, two residents of long-term care homes passed away as a result COVID-19 cases that were not confirmed until after their death because they had no symptoms of the virus, he said, as public health continues to learn more about the virus. 

The Ontario government introduced more aggressive testing, screening, and surveillance, deployed specialized teams from hospitals, public health and the home care sector, recruited additional frontline staff, and increased personal protective equipment April 22.   

York Region's three hospitals, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Mackenzie Health and Markham-Stouffville Hospital, are providing mobile teams to assist public health in the testing, as well as York Region Paramedic Services and registered nurses at long-term care homes, Dr. Kurji said.

The increased testing takes place as York Region continues to see growing numbers of deaths and confirmed COVID-19 cases — 65 more today brings its total to 1,342.

"This is a challenge for us," Kurji said of the 35 outbreaks at long-term care and group homes, "but we are slowly, slowly gaining control."

Of the eight additional deaths today, now totalling 76, the majority occurred as a result of outbreaks in long-term care homes, including another Newmarket resident.

A 95-year-old woman, a resident of Mackenzie Place Long-term Care Home, passed away yesterday, without having symptoms of COVID-19. She tested positive April 18. Five deaths have now occurred at the Newmarket long-term care home, where 55 residents and 18 health-care workers have tested positive. 

A 99-year-old Markham man died Tuesday, April 21, the first resident of Sunrise Seniors Living of Unionville to die from COVID-19. A second resident, an 84-year-old woman, died April 22 at Markham-Stouffville Hospital after testing positive April 16.

Two more Vaughan residents of Villa Colombo Vaughan Di Poce Centre have passed away, a 99-year-old woman died there Monday, April 20 and a 93-year-old man died April 22 at Mackenzie Health. 


A 90-year-old Vaughan woman died at the Mackenzie Reactivation Care Centre in Toronto on April 9, after testing positive March 27.


An 86-year-old Vaughan woman, a resident of Villa Leonardo Gambin Long-term Care, died Wednesday, April 22 — the day of positive test results — at Etobicoke General Hospital.


A 48-year-old Markham woman died at Toronto General Hospital Tuesday, April 21, after testing positive April 10 and 18. The cause of exposure is unknown.


The death toll associated with COVID-19 outbreaks in York Region increased to 52 today.

Institutional outbreaks, which span the region, remain at 35, with the most serious outbreak at Mackenzie Place LTC in Newmarket, with 55 resident cases and five deaths. 

Twenty-two more residents, totalling 297, at long-term care and group homes in York Region have COVID-19, and 13 more health-care workers (not all of whom live in York Region) totalling 231.

At least 379 of York Region's COVID-19 cases — 28 per cent, the largest segment ― were acquired in an institutional outbreak. Close contact is the second largest cause of transmission, with 303 cases making up 23 per cent.

Newmarket continues to see an increase in outbreak cases, up from 72 to 77 today — 59 per cent of its cases.   

Four more confirmed COVID-19 cases bring Newmarket's total cases to 130. 

Resolved cases slowed their increase today, with 33 more cases today bringing the total to 442, or 33 per cent.

In Newmarket, two mores cases are resolved, now 26 of 130 cases.

Of 73 infected health-care workers: eight are in Newmarket; two in Aurora, three in Whitchurch-Stouffville; six in Richmond Hill, 21 in Vaughan; and 33 in Markham.

Of 1,342 cases in York Region:

  • 584 are confirmed in Vaughan (+ 30 today), 29 deaths, 227 resolved;
  • 331 in Markham (+ 12 today), 30 deaths, 80 resolved;
  • 137 in Richmond Hill (+ 3 today), 4 deaths, 64 resolved;
  • 130 in Newmarket (+ 4 today), 7 deaths, 26 resolved; 
  • 57 in Aurora (+ 3 today), 4 deaths, 18 resolved;
  • 29 in East Gwillimbury (+ 4 today), 5 resolved;
  • 26 in Georgina (+ 1 today), 2 resolved.
  • 25 in Whitchurch-Stouffville (+ 4 today), 8 resolved;
  • 20 in King (+ 1 today), 2 deaths, 12 resolved.

The number of hospitalized patients in York Region decreased from 41 to 38 today, with 19 cases critically ill in ICU. 

As of 5 p.m. April 24, Southlake Regional Health Centre reported eight COVID-19 patients in ICU, and one patient under investigation in ICU. Eight COVID-19 patients are in inpatient units. The number of inpatients under investigation for COVID-19 is 18. Total deaths remain at five.

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Debora Kelly

About the Author: Debora Kelly

Debora Kelly is NewmarketToday's editor. She is an award-winning journalist and communications professional who is passionate about building strong communities through engagement, advocacy and partnership.
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