Northwestern Ontario has seen a significant spike in COVID-19 cases since this past Friday reporting 69 cases across the district, with the vast majority in the Kenora region.

As of yet, the spike in cases hasn't been felt at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital. As of Tuesday morning, there are three patients hospitalized with COVID-19, one in the intensive care unit, and an undisclosed number of patients awaiting test results.

President and CEO of the Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Ray Racette says the hospital is prepared to handle an influx of COVID-19 hospitalizations noting that capacity would be between 80 and 90 patients.

"That would really stretch staffing," Racette noted, "but our bigger issue would be worrying about ICU beds. The highest that we could go for that would be around six patients and then we would probably have a hard time coping."

In the event of a surge in cases, the hospital would look at what services would need to be reduced, like elective surgeries, to free up staff to help care for COVID-19 patients. Racette added the ICU is short-staffed, in the event of a surge in cases staff could be moved into ICU or patients could be moved to other facilities.

The hospital has an agreement with Seven Generations Education Institute, to use their space if the hospital got overwhelmed with cases and they could also send patients to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre if the patient needed ICU care beyond the use of a ventilator.

Residents are reminded to continue to practice preventive public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, like washing hands, wearing masks, and staying home when you're sick.

"It's really important that people be careful and mindful of the things they can do to protect themselves and their family. That's our best line of defense until we have access to vaccines," said Racette.