COVID-19: New cases surge today; outbreaks at 12 senior homes

Frequent and thorough handwashing is a good prevention against infection.

Journal Staff

As COVID-19 continues to surge, a Lambton Public Health response team has begun working with staff at two of 12 local senior homes contending with outbreaks.

There is growing concern about the 12 residents and one staff member at Twin Lakes Terrace and seven residents and five staff at Residence on the St. Clair who have tested positive for the virus, Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton’s medical officer of health, said during a media call today.

“Once this virus takes hold in a long-term care facility… we have seen the devastation it can cause, we have seen the damage it can do,” he said.

“All the effort, protective equipment and screening, everything, is useful to a point, but ultimately this is a virus that spreads like the common cold.”

Sixteen of Sarnia-Lambton’s 28 deaths have been residents of senior homes.

Lambton Public Health reported 85 new cases today and 224 active cases in the community. That followed a weekend with 174 new cases.

The intensive care unit at Bluewater Health is “over full” with two the hospital’s 10 COVID-19 patients in ICU, spokesperson Julia Oosterman said today.

The senior homes with outbreaks (and number of cases) are: Afton Park Place (1), Fairwinds Lodge (6), Fiddick’s Nursing Home and Fiddick’s Retirement Home (1 staff), Lambton Meadowview Villa (2), North Lambton Lodge (1), Sumac Lodge (1), Trillium Villa (4), Twin Lakes Terrace long-term care home (13), Twin Lakes Terrace retirement home (1), Village on the St. Clair (12) and Vision Nursing Home (2).

When the first vaccine doses will arrive in Sarnia-Lambton should be known this week, Ranade said.

Health officials are getting new information about transporting and administering the Pfizer vaccine, which should make it easier to access for residents of long-term care homes, he said.

The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at a temperature of -60 C., making Bluewater Health the most likely storage centre. However, new transportation guidelines should help, Ranade said.

“In some cases the vaccine can be moved effectively. I think they recognize the urgency of the demand here.”

It could still be months before the general population has access to either of the vaccines Canada has so far approved, he said.

Those who get a shot will be given a receipt, and there is talk of Ontario creating a “proof of vaccination” card, he said.