A total of 15 new COVID cases in Sarnia-Lambton as orange arrives

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A total of 15 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the Sarnia area, Lambton public health reported Tuesday.

The total number of local cases since the pandemic began grew to 1,961, with 85 cases considered active and 1,831 resolved. There have been 45 deaths and nine outbreaks at local businesses, long-term care homes and retirement homes, and the Sarnia Jail, Lambton public health said.

Most of those numbers were similar to figures reported Sunday. The agency didn’t update local COVID-19 statistics Monday because of the Family Day holiday.

The Lambton Kent District school board continued to report four cases among students at North Lambton secondary school, but the facility in Forest is still open as an outbreak hasn’t been declared. No St. Clair Catholic District school board schools had cases Tuesday.

Bluewater Health reported Tuesday there were two COVID-19 patients in local hospital.

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The local immunization task force said the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given to every long-term care and high-risk retirement home resident in Lambton County who wanted one. First doses of the Moderna vaccine were also given to Indigenous elder-care home residents on Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stony Point, and Walpole Island First Nations.

A news conference with Dr. Sudit Ranade, medical officer of health for Lambton County, was cancelled Tuesday. But in a statement Ranade said that while the administration of vaccines is positive news, he urged the public to maintain efforts to slow the spread of the disease.

“It is important to maintain all the public-health measures that have been put in place over the last several months, including social distancing, staying at home if you’re sick, wearing a face covering or mask, going out only for essential items, and limiting contact to only people you live with,” he said.

Ranade also issued a cold-weather alert Tuesday on behalf of Lambton public health, with temperatures expected to reach -15 C overnight.

As the Ontario lockdown and stay-at-home orders expired Tuesday, Lambton moved into the orange level of the province’s colour-coded COVID-19 response framework. Also called restrict, it’s the third of five progressively restrictive levels.

Restaurants, bars and recreational facilities were allowed to reopen under guidelines that include limiting capacity and hours of operation similar to those experienced in the region prior to the Boxing Day lockdown. Retail stores were allowed to reopen as well, but with some new rules including passive screening of patrons and a COVID-19 safety plan made available upon request.

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Visitor restrictions for long-term care homes apply in public health regions in the orange-restrict level or higher. Long-term care homes must also implement enhanced testing requirements.

Limits for organized public events and social gatherings where physical distancing can be maintained are 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Limits for organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, are 30 per cent of the space’s capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors.

More detailed information is available online at ontario.ca/covidresponse.

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