March 17th marks the one-year anniversary of the first known cases of COVID-19 in Kingston, Ont.
That day, Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for KFL&A Public Health, announced three cases of the novel coronavirus were found in the region.
Coronavirus: 3 cases of COVID-19 announced in Kingston
Over the past 12 months, the number has skyrocketed to nearly 800 cases and one death linked to the virus.
Aside from the health effects, the pandemic has also caused drastic social and economic disruption to Kingstonians’ daily lives.
“We haven’t had any sports teams because everything has been cancelled,” said Owen Pitcher Bond, a Grade 10 student.
“It takes a mental toll when you’re stuck at home.”
Other community members say the separation from loved ones has been the toughest part of the pandemic.
“It’s really difficult because we want to see our children and our granddaughter,” said Douglas Farquhar.
The sacrifices don’t stop there. Many parents across Canada have had to double up as teachers as their children were required to learn from home.
“The online learning didn’t work out for us for the little kids, so we ended up withdrawing them completely, and I ended up dedicating all of my time to homeschooling,” said Alison Pitcher.
Kingston-area public health officials order mandatory mask-wearing in indoor public settings
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
To date, more than 2.5 million people — including over 22,000 Canadians — have died from the virus.
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This week, Dr. Kieran Moore, reflected on the chaos of early 2020.
“When we had three cases, I was worried. I was worried for the community. We’d watched what had happened in Europe and Italy and Iran and China,” Moore said.
Moore explained that public health had prepared 200 beds if the virus spread throughout the community, forcing a mass number of people to be hospitalized.
“A year later, I look back, and we over-prepared in some ways … but we’ve just built such good, strong partnerships across so many sectors that I think that’s really put us in a very good position over the last year,” said Dr. Moore.
Public health order that limits gatherings extended in Kingston until end of April
Kingston has been at the forefront of measures to curb the spread of the virus.
On June 26th, Dr. Moore issued an order require masks or face coverings to be worn in any indoor public venue in the Kingston-Frontenac Lennox and Addington region.
Months later, on Septe. 18, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson issued an emergency order that would limit group sizes and loitering in the downtown area, as well as mandating masks in common areas in apartment or condo buildings.
“I’m just incredibly proud and inspired by our community how we’ve pulled together and excelled, and there’s discussion across the province and across the country about how well we’ve done,” said Paterson.
“At the same time, it’s clear that we are not at the finish line yet.”
15 new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston region, 15 VOCs over the last week
Over the last few weeks, the case numbers have increased.
There is currently an outbreak of a variant of concern at Queen’s University that public health says has spread to at least two elementary schools in the region.
As of Tuesday, there are 28 active cases of the virus associated with Queen’s.
In total, the KFLA region has 53 active cases.
“We’ve learned that if you can get on top of it early and isolate the cases, quarantine those around … we can get a hold on it and limit the spread,” said Dr. Moore.
“I’m a little anxious about what’s going on in the downtown area of the City of Kingston at present.”
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