Despite construction coronavirus infections, Toronto industry leaders think work can proceed safely

Local Journalism Initiative

Numbers show promising downward trajectory

Dr. Brent Roussin was encouraged yesterday in announcing 133 new COVID-19 cases, but he added the province would be in a much better place were it not for holiday gathering. “This morning we have 538 confirmed cases that were identified on or after December 25 that our contact tracing indicates were related to gathering over the holiday season,” the province’s chief public officer said, adding those cases are linked to 2,879 contacts. That means nearly 3,000 people are now self-isolating and a certain proportion of those will become cases. Of those gathering-related cases, 26 are children aged 10 or under and were reported Jan. 10. The province stated by email acquisition information is available for 11 of the 26 cases, so far. Five of those 11 cases were linked to two Christmas gatherings. Five of the 11 cases were linked to household spread among three households unrelated to the holidays. One of the 11 cases attended daycare. “This is really why we needed to extend the restrictions we have in place,” Roussin said, at the daily news conference. “We’re certainly not back to normal.” Roussin said the downward trajectory of numbers is a testament to the hard work of Manitobans, and that trajectory is what public health officials want to see. Samaritan House outbreak Meanwhile, at Brandon’s Samaritan House Ministries’ Safe and Warm Shelter, where an outbreak was declared this past weekend, five staff tested positive for COVID-19. “That’s an evolving situation. I have been getting regular updates throughout the weekend and this morning,” Shared Health chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said. “My understanding is that Prairie Mountain Health leadership is working with the shelter, as well as the community leadership, the municipality.” Siragusa also said officials will be working with the community to find the isolation space. “Whether that be in Brandon, or if they need to come to Winnipeg, which probably wouldn’t be ideal for them, but it is an option if we need it. We will make sure that there’s capacity for them,” she said. Executive director Barbara McNish declined to comment on where Safe and Warm clients were now being housed. “We are working on a plan with the province, so with public health and all the different agencies. But I can tell you from our Safe and Warm perspective that we have staff on site every night, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., to provide clients with alternative options,” McNish said. The Brandon Friendship has also closed its doors for two weeks, with executive director Gail Cullen self-isolating at home. The Brandon Sun was not able to speak with Cullen before deadline. Small businesses feeling hardship after months of restrictions While he acknowledged how difficult the past many weeks have been for Manitobans in general, Roussin also acknowledged small businesses and issued a reminder that public health orders are in place. “We all know that these restrictions have been quite difficult on Manitobans, especially those businesses that have had to close in the long haul with these restrictions. We’ve heard from businesses just how difficult it has been for them,” Roussin said. But officials are also hearing from other businesses that, despite the public health orders, plan on opening. He reminded those listening that the downward trajectory of case numbers is thanks to the restriction. “If we open things up too soon, if we have Manitobans that are not following the public health restrictions or public health advice, we’ll see those numbers come back again and, again, extend the need for restrictions,” Roussin said. Businesses who contravene the public health orders are subject to fines. NDP leader Wab Kinew agreed that the level red restrictions in place are challenging, but after the news conference he focused on mental health and addictions support, as well as more support for small business “Code red is challenging right. I think everyone wants to do their part to listen to Dr. Roussin, and I take what he says seriously about the need to have these restrictions in place but, at the same time, I do think it’s having an impact on mental health and some related issues like addictions,” Kinew said by telephone. “I think we definitely want to continue seeing public health prioritize battling COVID. But, I think we’ve also got to keep an eye on the impacts that it’s having on people’s mental health and economic situation.” Kinew also addressed small businesses defying public health orders. “Small businesses shouldn’t defy the orders, but I do think that is a reflection of the lack of support they received from the provincial government,” he said. “If you’re being told by the government that help isn’t coming, then I think that’s where the frustration comes from. But, at the end of the day, I think the better solution would be if we could continue to ensure that everyone follows the public health orders, but that the government could provide more financial assistance to these businesses.” More financial assistance could match the costs the small businesses are facing, and adhering to public health orders wouldn’t be such a stretch. Finally, Kinew confirmed that neither he or any elected NDP official travelled over the holidays, contrary to statements Premier Brian Pallister has made, largely in defence of one of his cabinet members who did travel. Vaccine roll-out Meanwhile, Angus Reid released poll results which indicate 51 per cent of Manitobans say the province is doing a “bad job” on COVID-19 vaccination distribution. Roussin repeated that the limiting factor is the quantity of doses the province is receiving. “As we get more quantity, we’ll be able to open up eligibility more,” he said. In its daily vaccination update, the province stated a portion of this week’s Pfizer vaccine shipment arriving in Manitoba will be sent to the Brandon super site in advance of the opening. “Eligible individuals can now start booking appointments at the Keystone Centre super site in Brandon, which opens on Monday, Jan. 18. There are many appointments available from Jan. 18 to Jan. 24.” The bulletin stated. Kinew said the poll just reflects the fact that vaccination roll-out hasn’t been happening quickly enough. “We all want this vaccine roll-out to be done in a safe way. But when you hear about the vast majority of vials still sitting in a freezer, I think that’s where people’s frustration comes from. They want the vaccine to be rolled out safely. But I think they are ready to roll up their sleeves, so they want to see the vaccines used, not just just sit there,” he said. Roussin said, hopefully, in the fall, Manitobans will see life more normal than it is now as herd immunity is built. MONDAY’S COVID-19 UPDATE The COVID-19 update from the province on Monday saw three additional deaths listed, including one patient from the Prairie Mountain Health region – a male in his 80s linked to the McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre outbreak. The province reported 133 new cases. The new cases are as follows: – 11 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region; – 34 cases in the Northern health region; – 28 in the Prairie Mountain Health region; – 13 cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and – 47 cases in the Winnipeg health region. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10 per cent in the province, and 8.8 per cent in Winnipeg. Lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba total 26,450, with 741 deaths or 2.8 per cent. There are currently 3,414 active cases in the province, with 22,295 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 The province also reported 162 people are in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 154 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, fo
r a total of 316 hospitalizations. Twenty-one people are in intensive care units with active COVID-19, as well as 16 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 37 ICU patients. In the Prairie Mountain Health region, there are 215 active cases, with 1,461 recovered. There are 14 people hospitalized, with no patients in ICU, and a total of 40 deaths. Brandon’s active case count is 65. Sunday, 1,566 tests were completed, for a total of 440,532 since February. » Source: Province of Manitoba As of Jan. 11, the status of COVID-19 outbreaks in Prairie Mountain Health were as follows: • Brandon Correctional Centre: 108 total cases, 18 staff infected, 90 non-staff infected, one active case, 107 recovered, zero death. • McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre: 35 total cases, eight staff infected, 27 non-staff infected, 34 active cases, zero recovered, one death. • Fairview Personal Care Home: 109 total cases, 41 staff infected, 68 non-staff infected, 2 active cases, 90 recovered, 17 deaths. • Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home: 41 total cases, 17 staff infected, 24 residents infected, 0 active case, 32 recovered, nine deaths. • Grandview Personal Care Home: 36 total cases, 11 staff infected, 25 residents infected, 0 active cases, 31 recovered, five deaths. Note: An outbreak is considered over one incubation period (14 days) after the final active case. » Source: Province of Manitoba Since Manitoba’s immunization campaign began, 10,353 people have received a first-dose immunization. The eligibility criteria for immunization was expanded Monday to include home care workers born on or before Dec. 31, 1965 (changed from Dec. 31, 1960) who are employed by a regional health authority (RHA), employed by a RHA contracted service providers or employed by a self- and family-managed care program client. A full list of eligibility can be found at The province did not update vaccination numbers by health region. » Source: Province of ManitobaMichèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun