Two COVID-19 deaths, 46 cases reported in Waterloo Region Friday

Health officials in Waterloo Region logged two COVID-19-related deaths and 46 new cases Friday.

The new cases come as the region prepares to enter the next steps of the province's reopening plan next week.

The latest deaths include a man in his 60s and a man in his 80s and bring the region's death toll to 277.

Friday's report brings Waterloo Region's cumulative caseload to 17,950, including 17,358 resolved infections and 307 active cases.

Waterloo Region is set to enter Step 2 of Ontario's reopening framework on Monday.

Friday, provincial officials announced Ontario will move into Step 3 next Friday. Speaking at a weekly COVID-19 briefing Friday morning, medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said Waterloo Region would follow suit.

"That's the plan," she said.

Despite the new cases and deaths, health officials said COVID-19 trends in the region are moving in the right direction.

"Our case rates and hospitalizations have stabilized and we have seen a major increase in vaccination rates for both first and second doses in Waterloo Region," Dr. Wang said. "Our weekly incidence rate is slowly trending downwards."

HOSPITALIZATIONS DROP SIGNIFICANTLY

Hospitalizations in Waterloo Region dropped from 42 to 30 in the past 24 hours.

Of those, 20 are receiving treatment in area intensive care units, a decline of four from Thursday's report.

There are 21 active outbreaks across the region.

"As hopeful as we are, the situation remains precarious," Region Chair Karen Redman said at the briefing. "We must continue to vaccinate and follow public health measures."

Health officials processed nearly 2,000 COVID-19 tests since Tuesday, bringing the total number of tests completed to 524,488.

The region's positivity rate sits at 4.9 per cent, down from 5.2 per cent on Tuesday.

The reproductive rate of the virus is 0.8.

VACCINE MILESTONE ACHIEVED

More than 80 per cent of adults in Waterloo Region have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Health partners across the region put another 9,489 jabs into arms on Thursday, with 626,836 total doses administered since the vaccine rollout began.

More than 48.3 per cent of residents 18 and older have now received two doses.

"If we continue to vaccinate at our current rate, everyone who is willing and able should receive their second dose by the end of July," Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton, lead of the region's vaccine task force, said at the weekly COVID-19 briefing.

Waterloo Region's vaccine push is set to continue this weekend, with officials planning to dole out 20,000 doses as part of the "Every Dose Counts" event at the new Hockey Hub mass vaccination clinic at Bingemans.

Friday, health officials release data showing the majority of new COVID-19 cases since May 1 are among unvaccinated people.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

The Region of Waterloo reported three new COVID-19 enforcement actions since last week.

All three tickets were issued under the Reopening Ontario Act for private gatherings, each with a fine of $880.

Two tickets were issued by Cambridge bylaw and one by Kitchener bylaw.

"This week, multi-ministerial inspection teams from the province have also been in the region to ensure adherence to safety and health requirements for workplaces," Redman said.

MORE VARIANT CASES CONFIRMED

Another 22 COVID-19 infections were confirmed as variant of concern cases in Friday's update, with 18 of those identified as the Delta variant.

"Delta is circulating widely in Waterloo Region," Dr. Wang said.

Waterloo Region has confirmed 4,102 total variant cases.

The region's variant breakdown is as follows:

  • 3,104 are the Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom and originally known as B.1.1.7
  • 13 are the Beta variant, originally detected in South Africa and previously referred to as B.1.315
  • 62 are the Gamma variant, initially discovered in Brazil and labelled as P.1
  • 609 are the Delta variant, first found in India and previously called B.1.617
  • 314 cases have had a mutation detected, but have not yet had a variant strain confirmed

PROVINCE-WIDE SNAPSHOT

Health officials across Ontario logged 183 new COVID-19 infections and nine deaths on Friday.

The seven-day rolling average now sits at 192, down from 259 at this point last week.

The new cases come as provincial health officials announced Ontario would move into Step 3 of its reopening plan next Friday.

With files from CTV Toronto.