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'We have to be really creative': Montreal public health juggles COVID-19 pandemic, heatwave
MONTREAL -- Montreal public health officials said they are ready to handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the heatwave that will hit the Montreal area in earnest as of Wednesday, but admitted it won't be easy.
"This year we have a challenge because we have to find new measures that will, at the same time, reduce the risk of heatwaves and reduce the risk of transmission for COVID-19," Montreal director of public health Mylene Drouin said at a press briefing Tuesday. "And so we have to be really creative."
Drouin said the uncharacteristically early heatwave for the Montreal area has made public health officials adjust its standard heat plan; that includes, with the recent green light by provincial public health authorities, allowing some air conditioners and fans in long-term-care facilities, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caroline Dusablon, regional coordinator of emergency measures for Montreal public health, said it was "great news" that the residences, known as CHSLDs, received a ministerial directive from Quebec yesterday to permit the use of standing fans and portable air conditioners, which she noted will need to be placed carefully so as to minimize the possible spread of COVID-19.
"(Our) institutions and partners have been actively working for several weeks to adapt plans for heatwaves and extreme heat to maintain the confidence of staff and users," amid the pandemic, Dusablon said.
"Our institutions will be ready."
Drouin added that public health has asked the city of Montreal to allow waterparks to reopen in the coming days so that famliies and children can have another way to cool down. Drouin noted that many of the facilities people use to cool down during heatwaves, such as shopping malls and libraries, remain closed in the Montreal area.
There are now 2,584 people who have died of COVID-19 in Montreal, public health authorities announced earlier Tuesday, as confirmed cases in the city reached 24,388.
That’s up 26 from the 2,558 deaths reported Monday; COVID-19 cases in Montreal rose 272 from the 24,116 announced a day earlier.
The daily increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths were both higher Tuesday than those reported Monday, when 20 new deaths and 198 additional cases were announced.
The borough of Montreal North has 2,263 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the most of any of the city's boroughs. The borough also has the highest incidence of COVID-19 in Montreal, with nearly 2,687 cases per 100,000 residents.
With 298 deaths related to COVID-19, the east-end Montreal borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve remains the borough with the most fatalities linked to the disease.
However, the on-island suburb of Town of Mount-Royal has the highest incidence of deaths due to COVID-19, with nearly 306 deaths per 100,000 residents. (The higher incidence of deaths due to COVID-19 in TMR has been linked to long-term care facilities for seniors, of CHSLDs, in the town, which have been hit hard by COVID-19.
- See the map: Tracking cases of COVID-19 across Montreal
Public health officials on Tuesday said there have been COVID-19 outbreaks in 170 CHSLDs on the Island of Montreal, up one from the 169 reported Monday.
The city of Montreal on Tuesday also announced that it is extending the state of emergency for the agglomeration of Montreal until May 30.