Hamilton is seeing a surge of new COVID-19 cases among people in their twenties, who seem to be spending time with their friends and getting lax about physical distancing, says the city’s medical officer of health.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson says 43 per cent of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 10 days are in that age range. Nineteen people were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday, and 73 since last Wednesday. That means about 31 people diagnosed in the last 10 days are aged 20 to 29.
Richardson says people in that age group — particularly on the younger end — seem to be falling out of habits like hand washing, mask wearing and staying two metres apart from each other. Hamilton Public Health Services is about to launch a new campaign to convince them to do otherwise.
People in their twenties can get seriously ill from COVID-19, Richardson said, and take the virus home to their parents and grandparents.
Not all of the cases are related to people hanging out with their friends. Some are connected to roommates, commuting to work or spread between family members. But in some cases, Richardson said, people are just seeing their friends and not staying far enough apart.
“It is hard,” she said of not being able to see friends. “It’s hard for all of us in terms of seeing family and friends. Our sense is they aren’t following the physical distancing rules with their social groups, and not practising the best preventative measures. So we’re really hoping to underscore that with this group.”
Richardson said there may be the perception that only older people get seriously ill from the virus. That’s not true, she said. “Anyone at any age can be at risk for a more severe disease.”
Richardson said none of the cases are connected to local anti-racism demonstrations, although public health will continue to watch for that.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger urged young people not to feel infallible.
“We were young once and thought we were impervious and immune and could conquer anything,” he said. “Unfortunately, young people also connect with parents and grandparents.”
Nineteen new cases is a larger than usual jump in numbers. Richardson said earlier this week that she starts to be more watchful when there are more than 10 new cases every day.
Overall, 734 people are known to have had COVID-19 in Hamilton (727 confirmed, seven probable) since the pandemic started in March. Of those, 552 people have recovered, which means there are 142 known active cases. Forty people have died.
Brant/Brantford sits at 111 cases. Of those, 102 people have recovered and four people have died. No one is in hospital.
These numbers are unchanged since Thursday.
Two more people in Haldimand-Norfolk are confirmed to have COVID-19 today, for a total of 389. Of those, 139 have recovered and 31 have died, which means 219 are known to have COVID-19 right now.
Many of those cases are connected to farms run by Scotlynn Group. Four workers are in hospital and two are in intensive care. There are 119 Scotlynn workers quarantined in hotel rooms in Brantford.
Halton is reporting 737 cases (666 confirmed, 71 probable). Of those, 614 people have recovered (six more than Thursday) and 25 people have died.
Burlington has 140 residents known to have had COVID-19 (125 confirmed, 15 probable), of which 119 people have recovered and seven have died. That means 14 Burlington residents are known to have COVID-19 right now.
Of Niagara’s 707 people confirmed to have COVID-19, 563 have recovered and 61 have died. There are 83 active cases and three institutional outbreaks.
The overall number of cases is steady since Thursday, but jumped by 40 cases the day before.