COVID-19 infection rate surging locally as New Year begins

This chart shows the increase in COVID-19 infections over the month of December, up to Dec. 31. Troy Shantz

Journal Staff

Sarnia-Lambton is experiencing the surge in COVID-19 cases that health experts had feared would occur from people socializing over the holidays.

Lambton Public Health reported this morning 120 new cases in the past two days and 249 active cases, both new records.

Nineteen outbreaks are currently underway, another record.

Two new long-term care home outbreaks were declared today — at Afton Park Place in Sarnia, where one staff member tested positive; and Lambton Meadowview Villa in Petrolia, where two staff members contracted the virus.

Testing of all residents at the homes and contact tracing is now underway, said Kevin Churchill, Lambton Public Health’s manager of family health.

The health unit is urging everyone to limit all non-essential social activities and to stay home if they feel sick.

They also ask people to reply honestly when contacted by a contact tracer, because isolating people who have been exposed to the virus is critical to slowing its spread.

Other senior home outbreaks have been declared at Trillium Villa, Vision Nursing Home, and Residence on the St. Clair, all in Sarnia, and North Lambton Lodge in Forest.

Sarnia’s City Hall is one of 11 workplaces contending with outbreaks, with each having two to eight employees infected.

And despite being closed for the holidays, two schools have declared outbreaks: Great Lakes Secondary and Confederation Central elementary.

The 120 new cases in the first two days of January follow a sharp rise throughout December, which has been Sarnia-Lambton’s worst month to date. In fact, more infections were reported locally in December than the first four months of the pandemic combined.

The rising infection rate has not had an impact on local hospital capacity, at least not yet. As of Jan. 1, Bluewater Health reported four people being treated in hospital, down from five patients on Dec. 31.

Sarnia-Lambton has now had 875 cases and 28 deaths since the global pandemic arrived locally last March.