LISTOWEL, ONT. -- Some residents of Listowel’s Caressant Care Long-Term Care Home are on the move.

Six residents were moved to area hospitals Tuesday, and more will be moving Wednesday, following a surge in COVID-19 cases that has seen well over half the residents and large number of staff contract the deadly virus.

Over the past two weeks, 88 residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s 65 residents and 23 staff. Three residents have died so far.

Local physicians, nurses, and other health care staff have been helping out at the home since the weekend. But, because the case count is so high, the decision was made to temporarily move some residents, instead of bringing any more staff into the home.

“We recognize that this is home for residents. The decision to transfer is not taken lightly,” says Stuart Oakley, communications and marketing manager at Caressant Care.

A similar “decanting” of long-term care residents happened at Cedarcroft Place Retirement Home in Stratford in December. It took several weeks to bring staffing levels back up to levels that allowed Cedarcroft residents to return home.

Something different from the Cedarcroft situation, is that there is a vaccine available. Caressant Care Listowel says residents and staff who haven’t contracted COVID-19 yet, were vaccinated on Tuesday.

An outbreak of this magnitude may have just been a matter of time in North Perth. The largely rural municipality, with a population of 13,000, centred around Listowel, leads Huron-Perth with 294 total Covid cases, 88 of which are active. The next closest community, Stratford, which has double North Perth’s population, has 21 active cases.

“I don’t want to point fingers anywhere,” says North Perth Mayor, Todd Kasenberg. “I think there have been so many different factors involved in community cases.”

Those community cases likely played a role in the Caressant Care outbreak, which will see many seniors uprooted from their homes, at least temporarily.

“As a small community, our resources are pretty easily overwhelmed in circumstances like this, so you certainly face a myriad, or domino effect of impacts,” says Kasenberg.

To further contain the spread, Caressant Care says residents on the retirement home side that are positive are being isolated in one wing of the home and staff who care for those residents do not cross over to the remaining areas of the home to provide care.

Huron and Perth counties, where the home is located, surpassed 1,000 cumulative cases of COVID-19 earlier this week.