Steps 2 and 3, vaccines, flights to the states: Top stories of the week

Waterloo Region likely to move into Step 3 along with the province next Friday: Dr. Wang

As Waterloo Region gets ready to enter Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan on Monday, the area’s top doctor says the plan is to then enter Step 3 with the rest of Ontario on Friday.

Friday morning, provincial officials announced Ontario would move into the third stage of its reopening plan on July 16 – five days ahead of schedule. Should Waterloo Region follow suit and enter Step 3 at the end of the week, there would be less than five days between Step 2 and Step 3.

Provincial health officials had initially said the province would stay in each phase for a minimum of 21 days to monitor COVID-19 trends. Step 3 will allow for a further loosing of COVID-19 restrictions. Indoor dining and fitness can resume, gathers inside can hold up to 25 people, and large indoor and outdoor events can begin again.

"Our indicators have stabilized since being designated a Delta hot spot," Dr. Wang said. "Going to Step 2 Monday, residents must continue to get vaccinated so that we don’t lose the gains we have made and slide backwards. We can't take our foot off of the gas."

Big COVID-19 vaccine push in region, most new cases amongst unvaccinated people

In hopes of being ready for Step 3 on Friday, health officials were able to break the single day vaccine administered record for Waterloo Region on Saturday at a “hockey hub” style clinic. The Bingemans “Every Dose Counts” clinic saw 4,904 shots administered, with more appointments, first dose walk ins, and second dose walk ins set for Sunday as well.

Ahead of the clinic, Medical Office of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang reported during a Friday briefing that 72.7 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the region since May 1 were among unvaccinated people. Comparatively, 24.8 per cent of cases were logged among individuals who were partially vaccinated, or had received two doses but were not yet fully protected.

Among COVID-19 deaths in Waterloo Region since May 1, 72.7 per cent were individuals who were not vaccinated or were vaccinated but not yet fully protected. The health unit has logged four deaths among vaccinated individuals. Dr. Wang said three of those deaths were residents in long-term care settings.

"Vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk for severe outcomes," Dr. Wang said. "Full immunization, two doses, plus two weeks, is your best protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant."

COVID-19 cases by the numbers (as of July 11):

  • Waterloo Region: 18,004 confirmed cases, 278 deaths, 17,437 resolved
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 8,211 cases, 125 deaths, 8,037 resolved
  • Brant County: 3,409 cases, 20 deaths, 3,382 resolved
  • Haldimand-Norfolk: 2,716 cases, 53 deaths, 2,652 recovered
  • Huron Perth: 1,909 cases, 57 deaths, 1,843 recovered

Flair Airlines to launch U.S. flights out of Waterloo Region in October

This fall Flair Airlines will offer flights to destinations in the United States out of the Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF). On Thursday, the airline announced that flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando-Sanford, Florida would begin flying out of YKF on Oct. 31.

These new routes are in addition to the domestic destinations already operating out of YKF multiple times a week, including Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg. Flights to Kelowna are also set to start on Aug. 1.

The fares will start between $79 to $109 one-way.

Guelph 'not anti-magic,' but staff banning fairy doors at parks and on trails

While many residents welcome the magic of fair doors, small and colourful displays nailed up trees, the City of Guelph has received an increase of complaints about how the doors are ruining the natural beauty of the parks and trails.

David Beaton, Guelph’s program manager of forestry and sustainable landscapes, is asking locals to stop drilling fairy doors to trees because of the damage it can cause.

“Trees are already dealing with insect pests, climate change, frequent droughts,” said Beaton. “Over time they go from being magical to litter.

“The city is not anti-magic, the city is not anti-fairy, but we are for the magic of nature.”

Waterloo chemist putting a dent in next years gypsy moth infestation through sex and science

Rosemary Chong of Waterloo has a PhD in chemistry, specializing in making insect pheromones, which is a sex attractant. She is now using her skills to help put a dent in the gypsy moth’s reproductive cycle.

The invasive species are beginning to pupate and will soon become moths. Once they do, male gypsy moths immediately begin their search to find female moths.

“So [if the male moths] don’t find the females, we’ll have a lot less eggs that get hatched next year,” she said.

She created lures, a rubber band soaked with an artificial version of the female gypsy moth pheromone. The saturated rubber bands can then be used to make a homemade trap.