'COVID-19 lingers on': Essential caregiver warns pandemic not over

An essential caregiver in Waterloo Region is looking to remind the community that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and the protections in place for the most vulnerable may not be enough.

While it seems life has returned to normal for many not dealing with pandemic restrictions, Carmen Miron says the impacts are still being felt in long-term care homes.

"I was devastated because with all the precautions they've taken, and even being boosted with the family and staff, COVID-19 still lingers on," she said.

Miron's 95-year-old father Mircea tested positive for the COVID-19 on Friday. He's a resident with dementia living at Fairview Mennonite home in Cambridge when an outbreak was declared.

With the long-term care home now in lockdown, only essential caregivers like Miron are allowed to visit, which means his grandchildren haven't been able to.

"That seems to be the only thing that made him smile," she said.

According to the Region of Waterloo's COVID-19 dashboard, there are five active outbreaks at long-term care homes that have been declared over the past week.

The outbreak at Fairview was declared on June 19 and lists a total of 25 cases.

"We have added additional team members during this time to ensure residents receive additional support," the CEO of Fairview said in a statement. "We continue to screen and rapid test every person coming into the home to ensure a negative result before entering."

Miron is urging the public to wear masks and protect the community's most vulnerable who are still dealing with restrictions and isolation.

"When you get onto the unit it's like a morgue," she said. "It's so quiet. Everyone is confined to their rooms, which is really sad."

Zahid Butt, an epidemiologist at the University of Waterloo, says that hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths relating to COVID-19 have declined, but the pandemic isn’t over.

"It's a good thing to get vaccinated, a good thing to get boosted, a good thing to still wear masks," said Butt. "We are not only protecting ourselves, but the vulnerable segment of the population such as those with pre-existing medical conditions, elderly, or immunocompromised."