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Hamilton reports 125 new COVID-19 cases, updates struggle with Rebecca Street outbreak

Hamilton’s emergency operations centre director offered more clarity on Wednesday why residents of a downtown apartment building in a large COVID-19 outbreak will not be given a mobile vaccine clinic as requested.

In a virtual meeting, Paul Johnson told city councillors public health simply does not have the capacity to set up and deliver that type of operation to a 164-unit building.

“We are really stretched in terms of the ability to do this, Johnson said. “It requires resources both on the health, human resources front and other human resources that are not insignificant.”

Read more: Ontario reports more than 2,300 new COVID-19 cases, 32 deaths

The request was made by affected tenants on Friday during a demonstration addressing what they called a “false narrative” insinuating residents were not taking COVID-19 seriously.

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Rebecca Towers added two more cases on Wednesday to its massive outbreak that involves 109 total cases and one virus-related death.

Arefin Chowdhury, one of many that call the 17-storey tower home, says he and his mother contracted COVID-19 in April and believes it took too long for public health to declare an outbreak.

“I started noticing the numbers from mid-March and we got notified on May 3rd,” Chowdhury told Global News.

“For myself, [there is] no explanation for that — why it took so long to declare. We could have been more cautious moving around in this building if we had known before.”

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Tenants at 235 Rebecca St. point to an out-of-service elevator, insufficient cleaning and security staff, poor ventilation, and a lack of respect for vulnerable tenants as reasons they believe the outbreak started.

Last week Hamilton Paramedic Services conducted on-site door-to-door testing for residents and recommended those who tested positive stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from the test date or after their symptoms started.

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Read more: 1 dead, 55 COVID-19 cases tied to outbreak at central Hamilton apartment complex

Public health also recommended that those who came in contact with a case stay home and quarantine for 14 days after their last interaction with said person.

Despite the denial of a vaccine clinic, the city is offering residents access to ‘vaccine ambassadors’ to help facilitate appointments for those who may be facing ‘barriers’ to get a shot.

Staff are working to facilitate transportation, including accessible transportation through DARTS, for some residents to get a dose at FirstOntario Centre’s mass vaccination site.

Coun. Judi Partridge asked if bylaw staff is doing everything possible to get the non-functioning elevator fixed at the complex, since property standards require two working elevators.

Director of licencing Ken Leendertse told councillors the owner indicated they hope to have the second lift fixed by the end of May and that bylaws do allow for exceptions when a particular building has “older technology.”

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Read more: COVID-19: Two new outbreaks, 47 cases tied to central Hamilton apartment buildings

“We can order them to get it fixed, but of course if you can’t get the parts or you are waiting for the parts, that’s an acceptable timeframe.”

Public health says an outbreak at a neighbouring apartment building recorded three more cases on Wednesday. The Village apartments now have a total of 32 infections.

The Wellington Place apartment complex has 22 COVID-19 cases among residents in its outbreak.

Hamilton reports 125 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

Hamilton reported 125 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday and three more virus-related deaths.

Public health says the deceased were two people in their 70s and one in their 50s.

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There was just one new outbreak revealed on Tuesday at Flamboro Technical Services in Millgrove. The operation has two cases involving workers.

A pair of outbreaks were closed at a supportive housing complex and a central Hamilton restaurant.

The surge at the Hatts Off Girl’s Country Home on the east Mountain had a total of six cases involving three staff and three residents over 25 days.

The outbreak at Earth to Table’s Bread Bar location on Locke Street lasted just 10 days and involved a pair of staff cases.

As of Wednesday, the city has 20 outbreaks in workplaces involving more than 150 total cases.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 2,700 new COVID-19 cases, 19 deaths

Hamilton has 40 total outbreaks as of May 12 involving at least 450 people.

There are 135 patients with COVID-19 in Hamilton hospitals as of May 11. Hamilton Health Sciences says they have 93 patients, with 35 in intensive care units (ICU) and St. Joe’s has 42 patients, with 27 of those in an ICU.

The city’s last recorded reproductive number from Friday is at 1.12, which indicates there is still spread of the virus within the community.

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The last update from public health on Hamilton’s seven-day moving average of cases was at 129 as of Monday.

The positivity rate, dropped slightly day-over-day to 11.9 per cent from Tuesday’s 12.2. The number suggests that about 12 per cent of all COVID-19 tests are coming back positive in Hamilton.

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