Last week, the Ontario moved to Stage 1 of their reopening plan, which lifted restrictions surrounding outdoor activities and allowed non-essential retail businesses to re-open.
Many non-essential businesses experienced long line-ups on Friday morning after almost six months of closures. Approximately 150 people were reported to have lined up outside Marshalls at The Boardwalk in Kitchener.
However, Waterloo health officials are now warning the Region of the risk of the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617, as COVID-19 cases start to rise locally.
Last Thursday, the Waterloo Region was identified as a “Delta variant hotspot.” In dealing with the new variant, second doses of COVID-19 vaccines are now available to book for those who were vaccinated on or before May 9.
Those who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose can receive either AstraZeneca or mRNA within eight weeks. Local pharmacies are also offering vaccines for second doses, including Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
According to Dr. Julie Emili, the associate medical officer of health, Waterloo Region’s weekly incidence rate has risen to 57 cases per 100,000 people. As of Tuesday, there were over 36 confirmed cases of the Delta variant, but medical experts predict more in the coming days.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have drastically risen in the region as local health officials reported 51 cases of the virus. Of 52 patients in the hospital, 22 are in intensive care units.
Dr. Emili said that this new spread is due to close contacts among those in separate households.
As of June 16, Waterloo health officials have confirmed 16,715 total cases of COVID-19, including approximately 258 deaths. Approximately 484 cases are considered active in the Region.