Hamilton city councillor claims most ICU patients with COVID-19 are vaccinated


Published April 20, 2022 at 8:32 pm

Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead filled a figurative stat sheet during a general issues committee meeting on Wednesday.

There are no sports style-boxscores for meetings involving the elected leadership in Hamilton. If there were, Whitehead — the west Mountain councillor whose pay was docked last year for bullying city staff — would have a stat line during the GIC that included:

  • Two mutings from meeting chair and Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann for being out of order;
  • One claim that he is the victim of a toxic work environment;
  • One claim that there are more people who are vaccinated who are in intensive care than non-vaccinated;.
  • One apology for accusations levelled at fellow councillors and city staff;
  • One refusal to vote on a routine motion to accept meeting minutes;
  • One parody Twitter account, called TerryHasAPointOfOrder, which began tweeting on Wednesday evening.

The big agenda item was whether to suspend a vaccination mandate for municipal employees. Around 6:25 p.m., the remaining councillors voted 6-4 to suspend the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination verification policy that was passed in January. That was the recommendation in a staff report.

Around the seven-hour mark of the meeting, after he had apologized for earlier comments, Whitehead claimed there are more people who are vaccinated who are in intensive care than non-vaccinated. He did not specify where that figure was pulled from.

“There’s a lot of mixed messages out there,” Whitehead said. “For example, I was just told earlier today that the count in the ICU is higher with the non-vaccinated versus the vaccinated. I have a number here from today, and it’s showing 90 fully vaccinated people in the ICU, and I think it’s like 10 who are unvaccinated. So let’s be clear that the science is evolving.”

Per ontario.substack.com, there are 203 ICU patients who have COVID-19. And 55.67 per cent are either unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or have an undeclared status.

The remaining 44.33 per cent works out to 90, which is the tally Whitehead quoted. That is a lower percentage, though, rather than one that is higher by a factor or eight or nine.

The former group also represents about 10.2 per cent of Ontario’s adult population. That indicates people who are not fully vaccinated are overrepresented in ICUs at a rate 5.5 times higher than in the general population.

That group also accounts for 39 per cent of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. That is nearly four times the general population.

The City of Hamilton COVID-19 dashboard also says an unvaccinated resident of the city is 14.5 times more likely than a triple-vaxxed individual to end up in intensive care with COVID-19. They are 7.6 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 3.9 times as likely to die.

Whitehead had his pay docked last November as part of sanctions for the bullying of a staff member at a meeting 14 months earlier in September 2020. The sanctions came after an integrity commissioner investigation. Whitehead was also restricted with whom he is allowed to communicate with at City Hall.

Wednesday, he contended “a toxic environment in which I work” was spurring his behaviour of late.

“Yes, I am indeed frustrated in the last couple of days and weeks and it’s probably starting to reflect itself,” said Whitehead, who has been on council since 2003. “I’ve been obstructed from providing information to my colleagues. Been interpretations of languages, but not interpretations of legislation. I’ve been, in my humble opinion, there’s a toxic environment in which I work, and I’m responding to that toxic environment — which is unfair to you (the rest of council).

“I want to highlight that you gotta take look at yourselves in the rearview to understand the reaction that you might be getting from this particular council, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. I love everyone.”

Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson tried raising a point of order, but Whitehead continued.

“I am speaking from the heart that I wanna work with this council as best as I can, but you need to understand your own actions and how you’re gonna get reactions,” he said. “We’re still working to evolve an understanding why my communications didn’t get to council even though, legislatively, there was a requirement for them to do so.”

When Wilson got to respond, she noted that Whitehead was attempting to shift blame for his action.

“I take exception to those comments,” Wilson said. “It’s an exercise in gaslighting which just happened. I have three children and the first thing I tried to teach them, and continue to try to teach them, is that when you morph into adulthood, you take responsibility for your words and actions.

“For you (Whitehead) to say you have been obstructed implies wrongdoing, intentially, on the part of the bureaucracy. That is an unfortunate and unacceptable choice of words. The integrity commissioner found you did not act according to the code of conduct which we are all supposed to follow. The integrity commissioner said that you failed to take responsibility and failed to apologize for your actions.”

Ward 9 Coun. Brad Clark raised a point of order to remind Wilson to speak through the chair of the meeting, Nann. She apologized for that and emphasized that fellow councillors are not on the hook for the comportment of another councillor.

“I won’t be blamed, nor do I believe this council bears any collective responsiblity in the behavioural and word choices used by a member of this council,” Wilson said. “That’s not a burden I am willing to carry.”

The GIC meeting started at 9:30 a.m.. Ten councillors were around to vote at 6:26 p.m. to accept the staff recommendation to suspend the mandatory vaccine verification policy.

That motion will now go to the full council for ratification on April 27.

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