In response to rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in Algoma, and especially in the municipality of Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Public Health is taking further action to curb the spread of the virus, prevent severe illness and death in our communities, and protect health system capacity.
Algoma’s Medical Officer of Health, with the support of the provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health, is taking the following three actions.
1. Legally ordering anyone in Algoma who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection, or who is identified as a close contact to follow isolation requirements and other public health direction.
- The Medical Officer of Health has issued a Section 22 Class Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, effective immediately across Algoma.
- The vast majority of people impacted with COVID-19 do the right thing and follow isolation requirements carefully; public health enforcement is a tool of last resort.
- Not complying with this legal order is an offence and a person may be liable for a set fine of $750 or otherwise of up to $5,000 per day or part of each day that the offence continues, on conviction.
2. Requiring Sault Ste. Marie businesses and organizations to reinstate recently lifted provincial capacity limits and physical distancing requirements, and strengthening masking requirements both indoors and outdoors.
- The Medical Officer of Health has issued a Letter of Instructions under the Reopening Ontario Act, effective Wednesday November 17 at 12:01 a.m. in the municipality of Sault Ste. Marie.
- Masking is required on the premises of businesses and organizations, and at organized public events, both indoors, and outdoors where physical distancing of at least 2 metres cannot be maintained. Exceptions under subsection 2(4) Schedule 1, O. Reg 364/20 continue to apply.
- In general, businesses and organizations must continue to maintain capacity limits so that members of the public on their premises can maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres. This also applies to businesses who opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
- Impacted Sault Ste. Marie businesses who must maintain or reinstate capacity limits and physical distancing requirements include: meeting and event spaces; restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments; real estate agencies; businesses that provide personal care services relating to hair or body, including hair salons and barbershops, manicure and pedicure salons, aesthetician services, piercing services, tanning salons, spas and tattoo studios; indoor and outdoor recreational amenities; photography studios and services; sports and recreational fitness facilities; commercial film and television production settings; concert venues, theatres and cinemas; museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions; casino, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues; amusement parks; fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals and similar events; and businesses that provide tour and guide services, including guided hunting trips, tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries, fishing charters, trail riding tours, walking tours and bicycle tours, boat tours.
- Please read the Letter of Instructions carefully to see how it applies to your business or organization.
3. Requiring anyone aged 12 years and older in Algoma to provide proof of identification and vaccination if they are entering an indoor facility to actively participate in, coach, officiate, volunteer, or spectate at an organized sport.
- The Medical Officer of Health has issued an Amended Letter of Instructions under the Reopening Ontario Act, replacing the earlier instructions issued September 29, 2021. The new amended instructions are effective Friday November 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
- People aged 12 and older who are actively participating in organized sport(s) are now also required to show proof of vaccination (not just coaches, officials, volunteers, and spectators) or a valid medical exemption.
- Children turning 12 have a grace period of 12 weeks from their 12th birthday during which they do not have to provide proof of vaccination, to allow a reasonable opportunity for immunization to take place.
- For clarity, the proof of vaccination requirement for those actively participating in organized sport does not apply to school sports (intermural or interschool) unless these sports are being played in a non-school recreational facility. If school facilities are rented by a non-school, external league, for example, the proof of vaccination requirement would apply. The requirement does not apply to school sports, including rental of school facilities by another school or school board.
“I continue to urge all Algoma residents to take immediate action to stop this surge of transmission, and help protect the vulnerable members of our community, and preserve our health care capacity,” says Dr. Jennifer Loo, Medical Officer of Health. “Stay home if you have any symptoms, cut down on gatherings and encounters where you have unmasked, face-to-face close contact with people you don’t live with, and please get fully immunized and help others to do so. If you want to be fully immunized and protected by the holidays, now is the time to get your first dose.”
Ila Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sault Area Hospital
“Increased COVID-19 cases in Algoma have a direct impact on our operations and how we care for patients. Over the past several weeks, we have seen a significant increase in community transmission of COVID-19, an increase of hospital COVID-19 admissions and a hospital surge of admissions. We anticipate that admissions will continue to increase. This increase in demand for care will impact Sault Area Hospital’s ability to maintain the current level of activities and may lead to the cancellation of elective surgeries and procedures,” Ila Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sault Area Hospital
Mayor Christian Provenzano, Sault Ste. Marie
“As our case numbers continue to climb in our city, I ask each and every one of you to take some time to refocus on stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Wear your mask and practise physical distancing when out in the community. Screen yourself and your children for symptoms every day and if there are even mild symptoms, stay home. I am confident that if we all work together, follow the additional public health instructions and continue to keep the health and wellbeing of our families, friends and community top of mind, we can stop the spread of COVID-19” said Mayor Christian Provenzano, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie.
Increased Community Transmission of COVID-19 in Algoma
On Sunday, November 14, 2021, Algoma Public Health reached a milestone of over 709 cases of COVID-19 reported since the onset of the pandemic.
- COVID-19 activity in Algoma is rising and is currently the highest that it has ever been since the beginning of the pandemic. Algoma’s rate of new COVID-19 cases is among the highest in Ontario at this time. As of November 14th, there are 155 active cases in Algoma, with 14 hospitalizations. In the 7-day period from November 8-14, rates of new COVID-19 cases in Algoma were at 121.5 cases per 100,000 population and rising, with a most recent percent positivity of 4.0%. By comparison, in early October, 7-day incidence was less than 5 cases per 100,000 population and percent positivity was less than 0.5%.
- All communities across the Algoma district are at risk because people continue to routinely travel between communities. In the past 14 days, COVID-19 has been confirmed in residents of North Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie & Area, and Central & East Algoma. Recent rates of new cases have been highest in Sault Ste. Marie & Area.
- Algoma residents of all ages have been affected, with higher rates of infection in younger adults and children. In a recent 7-day period (November 8-14), 37% of Algoma cases were in people 20 to 39, 35% were in people aged 40-59, 13% were in people aged 60-79, 9% were in children aged 0-19, and 6% were in people over the age of 80.
- People who are not fully immunized are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Since the beginning of Algoma’s fourth wave of the pandemic in early-July, 64% of COVID-19 cases were in people who were not fully immunized.
- Fully immunized people can still get sick from COVID-19 and spread the infection to others. Since the beginning of Algoma’s fourth wave of the pandemic in early-July, 36% of COVID-19 cases were in people who were fully immunized.