Milton’s Mysterious COVID-19 Hotspot

By Laura Steiner, Local Journalism Initiative, Milton Reporter
Do an Internet search for  the postal code L9E, and results turn up a map of a largely rural area in Milton.  It runs along Bronte Rd south from Louis St Laurent to Britannia, west to Bell School Line, and east to the Town of Milton’s border, and north as far as Campbellville sideroad. In reality, it’s a cross section of Milton.  The older part of town in Milton Heights, and Kelso-Glen Eden Conservation Area.  A cluster of businesses in the south end off Britannia Rd.  It includes areas north of highway 25 east to the municipal boundary, and as far west as Tremaine that are being built out.
Residential developments begin at Louis St. Laurent and Bronte, and continue south.   Streets include Leger, Farmstead, Rose Way, and Izumi gate. Style varies from the Hawthorne south condos at the corner of Leger and LSL, to town homes, semi-detached as well as single family homes featuring one and two car garages.  On a warm summer afternoon young families can be found sitting out in the parks, playing in the splashpads, and at the playgrounds.
It’s also an area that was named one of 114  COVID-19 hot spots by the province of Ontario.  The criteria used to determine a hotspot are: ongoing, and historic high rates of COVID-19, as well as deaths, hospitalizations, sociodemographic barriers (employment, household size, etc..); and transmission.  The area is part of the Boyne survey, and many homes are occupied for the first time.
In the week of January 24, they recorded a positivity rate of 13.4%, more than four times the provincial positivity rate of 3.3% during the same week.  The following week (January 30), the area recorded a 9.3% positivity rate.
Vaccine supply stabilized through March, and April.  For the first two weeks of May the province reallocated 50% of the vaccine to the 114 provincial hot spots including L9E.  Friday April 30, the Region of Halton opened up vaccination appointments to residents of L9E 16 years of age and older.
As of May 31, the Region of Halton has vaccinated 76% of area residents over the age of 18.  However, the most recent positivity rate for the week starting May 23 is 10.95%, approximately twice the Regional rate of 4.7% over the same period.
Officials are unsure why this area is experiencing  high positivity rates.   “While there is no definitive explanation there may be several factors contributing to this, including: proximity to Peel and Toronto; larger family sizes in Milton leading to multiple cases within a household, and a younger population in Milton, with cases concentrated in younger people for the second and third wave,” Halton Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hamidah Meghani said in an email.  Halton Regional Public Health cautions that the population may be underestimated resulting in higher rates of COVID-19.
Area residents theorize that the COVID-19  cases are coming from outside L9E.  Many are those new to Milton who have relocated from Mississauga.  They drive back and forth to their favourite hair salons, and restaurants and bring the virus back.  Whatever the reason, figuring out what’s happening in this postal code might be the key to beating COVID-19 in Halton.