A look at the Waterloo region one year after the first reported COVID-19 case

Photo by Darien Funk

It’s been one year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported by public health officials in Waterloo region.

The case was confirmed in a woman who experienced mild symptoms after returning home from a trip to Italy. She was discharged from Grand River Hospital on Mar.ch 4, 2020.

On Mar.ch 11, a 77-year-old man from Barrie became Ontario’s first COVID-19-related death.

Premier Doug Ford announced during this period that publicly-funded schools and non-essential businesses across the province would be closed in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Wilfrid Laurier University suspended in-person classes on Mar. 13, 2020.

The bylaws approved by Waterloo region council that required people to wear masks on public transit and in indoor public areas took effect on July 13, 2020.

Since then, over 11,000 people in the region have tested positive for COVID-19, and 239 have died.

There have been two provincial-wide lockdowns instigated so far, with a third projected to be put into place due to the continuing climb of the B.1.1.7 variant.

Numerous local businesses in the region have also suffered from the consequences of COVID-19, with once-popular locations like the beloved Waterloo karaoke bar, Chainsaw, closing their doors permanently.

As of Mar. 16 2021, there are currently 307 active cases, 29 people in hospital and 16 active outbreaks.

Laurier announced in a press release on Mar.ch 5, that two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were found in students living in King’s Court residence on the Waterloo campus.

The individuals are currently self-isolating.

“The Laurier community can rest assured the university has in place rigorous protocols for sanitizing and cleaning campus areas since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, all members of the Laurier community are reminded to follow public health guidelines and on-campus safety protocols to protect themselves and others from the spread of the virus,” the news release said.

In a letter addressed to undergraduate and graduate students from Laurier president and vice-chancellor Deborah MacLatchy posted on Mar. 15, details were given regarding the university’s plans for the fall 2021 and winter 2022 terms.

“The accelerating vaccine rollout in Canada promises us a return to some normalcy in the coming months. With this optimistic outlook, academic and administrative leaders across Laurier have begun preparing for a gradual, phased and safe return to in-person activities on our campuses for fall 2021 and winter 2022 terms,” MacLatchy said in the statement.

“I know that many of you have questions as you plan for the fall term. It is my promise that the university will share more details in April about the fall 2021 staged return to our campuses.”

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