P.E.I. releases COVID-19 projection model; no new cases for sixth straight day
Prince Edward Island’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison gives an update on COVID-19 during a news conference on Tuesday, April 14.
HALIFAX -- For the sixth straight day, Prince Edward Island has identified no new cases of COVID-19, as the total number of cases in the province remains at 25.
Twenty-three of the 25 cases are considered recovered, said Prince Edward Island’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison during a news conference on Tuesday.
The last time P.E.I. announced a new case of COVID-19 was on April 8, when three new cases were reported.
On Tuesday, the province also released projection modelling of the impact COVID-19 may have on the province.
"Models are just one of many tools to inform a public health response. Today is really an assessment of our current status of the COVID-19 epidemic on P.E.I., and to look at some of the scenarios," said Morrison.
P.E.I.'s models displayed the difference between the strong control scenario, under the public health measures they are currently following, and a mild control scenario.
The province is currently projecting nine total deaths and 120 hospitalizations from COVID-19 under the current strong control scenario.
Under the mild control scenario, the province projected 900 total fatalities and 14,000 hospitalizations.
"The numbers in this model, which may be sobering to some, demonstrate just how serious this pandemic is, and why we have been working so hard, and so smartly together to mitigate and contain the spread," added P.E.I. premier Dennis King.
Morrison also stated that P.E.I. currently has 207 acute care beds available on the island. Under the current strong control scenario, the province projects a need for 15 acute care beds. Under the mild control scenario, the province projects a need for 3,250 acute care beds.
The modelling was put together by a group of experts, including the Atlantic Veterinary College, epidemiologists from the Chief Public Health Office and other government officials, said Morrison.
The province has conducted nearly 2,000 tests, with 1,827 tests coming back negative. The results of 111 tests were still pending as of Tuesday.
"Our actions have made a difference as islanders. We are still in the early stage of the epidemic, and we have the opportunity to control this epidemic," said Morrison.
All cases on the island have been connected to travel. Seventeen of the cases are located in Queens County, with the other eight in Prince County. Zero cases have been identified in Kings County.
The province says cases are deemed recovered if it has been 14 days since symptoms began, and the patient's symptoms have markedly improved and they do not have a fever. If the case was asymptomatic, they use the date of the test to start that 14-day period.
Later on Tuesday, P.E.I. government officials held a news conference detailing some of the updated financial relief efforts and education plan for the island.
Matthew MacKay, P.E.I.’s Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture, announced the following financial relief efforts.
- ‘Emergency Income Relief Fund’: approved 2,150 applications worth over $2 million for self-employed Islanders.
- ‘Emergency Relief Worker Assistance Program’: approved 225 applications for 1,115 impacted employees, paying a total of $348,725 to workers who are still working but who have seen a significant reduction of hours due to COVID 19.
- ‘Emergency Working Capital Financing for Small Businesses’: 138 loans approved total $5.56 million
- ‘Employee gift card program’: 1400 applications, 9453 gift cards issued to employees who have been laid off
- ‘Commercial Lease Rent Deferral Program’: 115 applications, 84 approved
- ‘COVID-19 Income Support Fund’: 7633 applications, 4390 approved
- ‘Skills P.E.I. Post-Secondary Program’ expanded by an additional 320 positions for Island post-secondary students who are unable to find summer employment due to COVID-19
- Increasing subsidy for private sector businesses to up to 75 per cent from 50 per cent.
Brad Trivers, Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning, announced the following plans for education on P.E.I.
- $95,000 for the student unions of Holland College, University of Prince Edward Island and Collège de l'Île to provide direct financial assistance to students in need.
- $75,000 investment in post-secondary research fund at U.P.E.I. student union to create summer opportunities for studnets to continue research while practising social distancing.
- Student loan payments deferred to September 30, 2020.
- Temporary rent subsidy of $1,000 for post-secondary students
- Extended Jobs for Youth application deadline
- Offering grant of $750 to students who qualify for federal support and are waiting to receive them.
"We are proud of our ambitious Island youth who work very hard to pay for their education and we deeply appreciate the significant sacrifices that Island parents make to help with the cost of their children's education," said Trivers. "We are committed to making sure our university and college students don't fall behind and can continue to focus on their studies as we get through this uncertain time together."
Jamie Fox, Minister of Fisheries and Communities, announced support for the hiring of 250 students through Team Seafood, which will see students who work in the seafood sector receive a bursary support of $1,000 for high school students, and $2,000 for university students.
As well, Fox announced the annual Jobs for Youth placement will be increased by 280 additional employment placements, with private sector employers who hire students receiving an increased subsidy from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of the student's wage.
"This spending is unprecedented, but is a necessary step to help our province and its economy to return to normal activity," said Fox. "As our province deals with the consequences of COVID-19, our provincial government is committed with helping people return to work, including our post-secondary students. The sooner people return to work, the better off Islanders will be."