Sixth COVID death in Chatham-Kent

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North Kent seeing large chunk of recent cases

By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

A 70-year-old male passed away at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) due to the COVID-19 virus on Thursday.

CK Public Health reported the death on Friday morning, bringing the local COVID-19 death toll up to six. One individual remains hospitalized. 

Six new cases of COVID-19 were also reported bringing the active total up to 114 and the cumulative total up to 1,164.

The Fairfield Park long-term care (LTC) home outbreak has reached up to 18 residents and 13 staff members who tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of outbreak cases to 31.

Tracey Maxim, administrator for Fairfield Park called the situation concerning in a press release and stated that staffing supports put in place over the past week have “provided significant relief.”

Lori Marshall, CEO and president of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), said the hospital redeployed personal support workers  and housekeeping staff on Wednesday in order to provide additional aid.

CKHA hired more personal support workers in December in anticipation of an LTC outbreak.

Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health said previous LTC outbreaks involved  staff members that happened to catch COVID-19 elsewhere through their own contacts or family members. This is the first LTC outbreak that has involved residents and transmission within the facility.

Colby said all positive cases are being cohorted into one area with designated staff working in those areas. 

“So far people are doing well. We don’t have, at this point in time, anyone that needed emergency care in the hospital, acute care in the hospital, and people seem to be doing okay,” he said.

Friday’s death was not associated with Fairfield Park.

CK Public Health is aiming to have all local long-term care residents vaccinated by Feb. 5, a deadline set by the provincial government. The deadline is for first doses only.

To date 400 Chatham-Kent LTC residents, representing around half, have received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Colby said he expects a second shipment next week but was not given a specific date or time.

Colby said Fairfield residents will be vaccinated once the outbreak is over because the province does not recommend vaccination teams go into LTC homes in an outbreak. 

The outbreak at the Wal-Mart in Wallaceburg remains active and two individuals remain positive with COVID from Lambton-Kent Composite School, Dresden. Several other businesses in Wallaceburg have also voluntarily shut down after individual employees tested positive for the virus.

“It seems that North Kent is having a disproportionate number of cases,” Colby said. “We do believe we will be able to link it all up.”

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