Original Published on Jul 24, 2022 at 14:59

By J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

COVID-19 continues to take lives in Haldimand-Norfolk.

In its weekly report published on Wednesday, the local health unit said a resident had died of the virus over the past week, bringing the COVID-related death toll to 80.

The health unit did not provide any details about the deceased.

The health unit makes the distinction between residents who died of COVID-19 and those who tested positive but were determined to have died of other causes. This resident was determined to have died of COVID-19.

Also as of Wednesday, there were two local residents in hospital with COVID-19, with one in the intensive care unit.

The health unit is monitoring 10 active outbreaks — two more than the previous week — including three in long-term care homes, two at retirement homes, three on farms and two in unspecified congregate settings.

Dr. Matt Strauss, Haldimand-Norfolk’s acting medical officer of health, recently told the board of health that COVID-19 has faded as a local threat to public health.

“For all local intents and purposes the Covid-19 pandemic is over,” Strauss wrote in an update to board members.

“In my view, any remaining restrictions harm rather than improve the public health. Now is a great time to remove any Plexiglas barriers you may be harboring.”

Strauss told board members the virus will continue to circulate and future waves can be expected, with vaccination as the best defence. He has made encouraging vaccination a priority since his appointment last year, going so far as inviting residents on the fence about getting the shot to call him directly. 

But progress is slow. 

Over the past month, the needle has barely moved, with 17.9 per cent of the population five and older still unvaccinated and an unchanged 79.6 per cent having received two doses, which the health unit considers “fully vaccinated.”

Strauss told board members the health unit has largely turned its attention to monkeypox. One case of that emerging virus has been detected in Norfolk County.

This item reprinted with permission from The Spectator, Hamilton, Ontario