As the province releases record-shattering new case numbers, outbreaks of COVID-19 continue to crop up in workplaces across Waterloo Region.
Officials are expressing concerns that employees may feel the need to go to work while they’re sick so they don’t have to sacrifice income.
During the weekly public health briefing on Friday, officials said they will continue to lobby the provincial and federal government for paid sick leave for all workers, as well as increased access to testing.
“In the second wave, workplace settings have become among the most frequent settings experiencing outbreak across Ontario and it is the same in Waterloo Region,” said Waterloo Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang during the update.
As of Thursday, 34 active outbreaks were reported in the region, with 10 of those attributed to workplace and business settings. Regional police also reported on Friday that 12 of its members had tested positive for the disease to date.
The region's top doctor said that 85 per cent of the region's total workplace outbreaks in Waterloo Region were declared in November and December of 2020.
“As community spread increases, we expect to see an associated increase in the number of employees who acquire COVID and the number of outbreak declared in outbreak settings,” Dr. Wang continued.
The news came as the region continued to ramp up inoculation efforts, with 5,142 doses that have now been handed out in the region as of Friday.
Leading the region's vaccine task force, Deputy Shirley Hilton of Waterloo regional police said they’re working towards a goal of 650 vaccinations per day.
“Work is being done to increase scheduling appointments as we work toward next week, mobilizing our clinics going into the long term health care homes,” she said.
Hilton added that the quantity of the Pfizer vaccine that the region is currently receiving is limited, and there not yet been word on when the area might receive the Moderna vaccine.
On Friday, officials also provided an update on enforcement between Dec. 28, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021. During this time a total of 22 tickets and six court summonses were issued to businesses and individuals in the region.
Locally, cases continue on a triple-digit trend, with public health reporting 187 new cases on Thursday, pushing the active case count to a new all-time high of 888.