There have sadly been seven new deaths this week due to COVID-19.
Durham Region Health Department reported three new deaths on April 18, two on April 19, and another two on April 20.
This comes as the region continues to see record numbers of COVID cases since the start of the pandemic.
The region reported 220 new cases Thursday, bringing the total active cases in Durham to 2,406. Of those, 1,686 cases are COVID-19 variants of concern.
This brings the seven-day moving average positivity rate for variants of concern to 82 per cent.
Cases are so high in Pickering and Ajax, that they are considered hot spots within the province based on the provincial data.
“The health department is currently working to immunize the populations identified in Phase 2 of the province’s vaccination plan,” says Durham Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Kyle.
Residents living in certain postal codes in hot spot areas are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our strategy to reach residents who live in these communities includes advising those who are 50-plus or those who are turning 50 this year to register at a mass immunization clinic, establishing pop-up clinics for those 18-plus living in these hard hit communities, and providing hot spot mobile clinics to further reach these target populations,” Kyle continues.
Ajax currently has the highest number of cases in the region with 685 active cases. Ajax has seen a total 5,489 total confirmed cases of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
There are 458 active cases in Pickering, while Oshawa currently has 534 active cases of COVID-19.
Oshawa has seen a total 3,918 cases – the third-highest total case count across the region.
Region-wide, of the total 2,406 active cases, 2,333 people are in home isolation and 73 are in hospital, with 29 in the ICU.
There have been a total of 334 deaths region-wide, 217 of which were long-term care and retirement home residents.
“I urge all eligible residents to get vaccinated as soon as it is your turn,” says Kyle.
He notes residents need to continue to follow all public health measures, adhere to local and provincial restrictions, stay home as much as possible, and get vaccinated when eligible to do so.
“COVID-19 has been spreading at an alarming rate and we all need to continue to work together in the fight against this virus.”
Regional Chair John Henry released a joint statement along with the eight mayors of each Durham municipality urging residents to do their part in helping to stop the spread of the virus.
“In the midst of the third wave, we are at a critical point of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it reads. “As Durham Region’s elected leaders, the health and safety of our community is our top priority, which is why we are imploring Durham residents to follow all public health measures and restrictions that have been put in place.”
The statement notes when restrictions are disregarded, it puts lives at risk.
“It is crucial that we all continue to adhere to public health guidelines to protect our friends, families, and neighbours,” the statement continues.
The statement urges residents to stay within their own household and only leave for essential purposes, such as grocery shopping and exercising. Those who live alone may have exclusive contact with one other household.
“We must all continue to do our part every day to protect our community,” it reads. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this together by the will of our collective effort. Together we remain #DurhamStrong.”