Community spread of COVID-19 confirmed in Kingston area

KFL&A Public Health announced two new cases of the virus in the Kingston region Thursday, bringing the total up to 16. Three of these 16 cases, public health believes, were contracted through the community, since the patients have no recent travel history and do not know of any close contacts who have the disease.

Along with many other municipalities in the area, including those in Lennox and Addington and Frontenac counties, Mayor Bryan Paterson announced Thursday that Kingston would be following the province’s lead, and calling for a municipal state of emergency.

“This is about making sure we’re taking every step possible to support our community during this challenging time. We need access to any and all resources available and this declaration provides more flexibility to take local action,” Paterson said in a news release.

Both Paterson, and Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for KFL&A Public Health, say declaring a state of emergency is meant to hammer home to residents to strictly adhere to public health guidelines over the next several weeks.

Now that there’s evidence of community spread, Moore said it’s a critical time to aggressively try to slow the spread of the disease in the region.

“This is a potential turning point for our community. [It’s important] that we all adhere to social, physical distancing, that we can’t have birthday parties and social parties.”
Moore noted that some of those who tested positive for the disease in the region reported going to small social gatherings like birthday parties. These types of activities, he says, will have to stop.

“When we have been talking to people who have had a diagnosis of COVID-19, they have had small social gatherings in the community that could have allowed the spread,” Moore said.

Paterson said that calling for a state of emergency was meant to advise those in Kingston there is community spread, and urging them to take the appropriate prevention strategies seriously.

“We wanted to let the community know that, and now re-emphasize the importance of a physical distancing, social distancing to be able to protect protect ourselves and to protect each other,” Paterson said.

On Wednesday, KFL&A Public Health announced that two health care professionals in the region had contracted the disease, causing the closure of a medical clinic in Northbook, Ont.

In a Facebook post a second medical practice in Verona, Ont., confirmed it was closing due to a positive COVID-19, but it did not confirm whether the case involved a health care worker.