By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Chatham-Kent restaurants, gaming establishments, cinemas, performing art venues and gyms will be able to receive an intake of 50 clients after the provincial government moved the municipality to the Orange Zone.
On Friday the Ontario government, in consultation with its chief medical officer of health, announced it is moving nine public health regions to new levels in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. The change will come into effect on Monday at 12:01 a.m.
During the past two weeks, with the Fairfield Park long-term care home outbreak under control, new cases have significantly decreased prompting the zone change.
The move into orange means Chatham-Kent saw a weekly incidence rate of 25 to 39.9 new cases per 100,000 residents.
On Friday four recoveries and four new cases of COVID-19 were reported, keeping the active total at 17 cases.
Limits for organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities, where physical distancing can be maintained has increased to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. Religious ceremonies and weddings can continue to see an indoor occupancy of 30 per cent of a room’s capacity.
Fitness or exercise classes can only have a maximum of 10 people and must take place in a separate room.
New vaccine on the block
Health Canada also announced on Friday that it gave the greenlight to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine which has an efficacy rate of 62 per cent from 15 days after the second dose was given to the study’s participants. It was authorized for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.
“Today’s approval of AZO by Health Canada represents a major addition to the armamentarium in the fight against COVID-19. I am very pleased,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health.
The vaccine will be produced in both Ontario and India. The Ontario produced AstraZeneca vaccine will have 500,000 doses quicker.
“There’s been no update in terms of when Chatham-Kent will receive this particular vaccine but Health Canada produced a statement saying that it will begin being distributed in April,” Colby said.
Colby added that the provincial projections for its vaccination schedule are based on only Moderna and Pfizer availability, with more being added, projections will need to be updated.
His original timeline for Chatham-Kent was to have the population inoculated by September and to date things have been going on schedule, with those aged 80 and over set to receive their first doses as early as Saturday.