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Covid 19: Three years later in Northwestern Ontario

By Katie Nicholls Mar 10, 2023 | 1:58 AM

Chad Davis / CC

It’s the third anniversary of Covid-19 and the pandemic that gripped the world, raising both fears and concerns.

No one knew what to expect, with many thinking it would only last a couple of weeks, while others knew it would go on for an extended period of time.

On Friday, March 13, 2020, the province announced schools would take a second week of March Break. It was unknown to parents and caregivers that schools would be out for months, before transitioning to online, and then to a hybrid model. Some businesses would be allowed to open, while others had to completely close. It was truly, an unprecedented time.  Lockdowns would be enacted and then be lifted only to rinse, wash and repeat for months on end.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) reported its first case of the virus on March 27, 2020. Even though the region was slower in reporting outbreaks than other parts of the province, the rapidly spreading virus still took its toll. The total number of reported cases for the region, based on lab data is 18,817.

It was on April 24, 2020, the first death related to the virus was reported by the health unit. A man in his 50s with underlying health issues died while being treated at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBDHSC). He was one of 140 people to die at the grips of the virus.

The first dose of an available vaccine was injected on December 22, 2020, for healthcare workers, and essential caregivers in hospitals, along with long-term and retirement homes and other congregate settings for seniors. To date, 414,826 doses of various vaccines have been given out.

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), has reported a total of 14,697 confirmed cases and 54 people have lost their lives as a result of the virus. The NWHU reports they and their partners administered 220,019 vaccines since December 2020. The first case of the virus in the NWHU coverage area was on March 13, with the first death occurring in late December 2020.

Across Ontario, the numbers were notably higher. More than a million and a half cases were confirmed and reported (1,597,894).  Of those reported cases,  four percent were admitted to the hospital. The province logged 16,149 deaths, with the first reported in Barrie on March 17, 2020.

Inoculations were high for the first and second doses,  at 84 and 81 percent respectively.  But for dose three, there was a large drop in registration with only 51 percent of the population getting the most recent vaccine.

While restrictions have gone by the wayside, some businesses and many healthcare settings still require some form of restriction (masks when feeling sick, requirements to stay home…etc.)

Case numbers, testing, vaccinations, and restrictions have taken a backseat, but it’s the aftermath of those things that continues to haunt Ontarians.   With restrictions and lockdowns, items like hand sanitizer, masks, and even grocery items like flour and toilet paper came into high demand. The ebb and flow of those measures have taken a toll on the sellers/distributors and have driven up costs which all rolled downhill and were passed on to the consumer.

Those impacts are still being felt in March 2023.

All data is current as of its publishing date of March 10, 2023, and were provided by TBDHU & NWHU.


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