Chatham-Kent Health Alliance pays tribute to lives lost on COVID-19 anniversary. March 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of CKHA)Chatham-Kent Health Alliance pays tribute to lives lost on COVID-19 anniversary. March 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of CKHA)

CKHA reports another death linked to COVID-19

Another COVID-19 patient has died at the Chatham hospital to bring the number of COVID-19 deaths to 18 in Chatham-Kent.

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance President and CEO Lori Marshal announced the sad news on Thursday morning. Marshall said the patient passed away Wednesday night. The age and gender of the victim has not been disclosed but they were not vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby. Marshall said it's the first COVID-19 related death at the hospital in quite some time.

"This just underscores again the serious nature of this virus and encouraging everyone to please get vaccinated if you are not vaccinated already. Definitely expressing our condolences and sympathies to the family," said Marshall.

Marshall also reported the number of vaccinated hospital staff and doctors is very high. She said 87 per cent of her staff are fully vaccinated and seven per cent have one dose. The rate for doctors is even higher with 96 per cent of hospital physicians vaccinated against the virus. All hospital workers are required to be fully vaccinated by October 31, 2021, unless they have a legitimate exemption.

Marshall said a review is underway to determine why the rest aren't yet vaccinated and what problems could rise at the hospital after the vaccine deadline, such as staffing shortages, if any.

"At this stage, given the small number of staff were talking about overall, I don't believe there's a risk but it is incumbent for us to do that analysis to understand where there might be any gaps," she said.

On Thursday, Chatham-Kent Public Health reported 17 new cases and 12 resolved cases to bring the number of active cases up to 112.

CKHA reported 13 patients with the virus in the hospital in Chatham but one is not a resident of Chatham-Kent. Only two are vaccinated and five are in the ICU with four of them on a ventilator.

Local public health officials said the four COVID-19 outbreaks continue.

The vaccination rate is up slightly in Chatham-Kent with 75 per cent of the population 12 and older with two doses and 81 per cent with one dose.

Dr. Colby reminds everyone that the vaccine doesn't eliminate the virus altogether but it does prevent serious illness and hospitalization.

"The virus is not like a football, you don't just grab it and throw it and pass it on. You've got to catch the infection in order to transmit it to others. A vaccine very much lessens the chance that you'll catch this infection and will have a very large effect on the transmission in a community," said Colby. " For those (vaccinated) that acquire the infection, there are studies that show that they shed less virus and for a shorter period of time."

Colby said so far there has been only one vaccinated person in Chatham-Kent who has gotten sick enough to go to the hospital.

Dr. Colby believes that the number of COVID-19 cases has peaked and may be on the way down.

He hopes vaccines for children 5-11 are ready by the end of the year.

Read More Local Stories