By Tammy Schneider
As the list of cancellations continues to grow locally, nationally and internationally, health officials are urging the public not to panic, but instead to be prepared.
A public health notice issued on March 11 by Gerald Glover, CEO of the Brockton Area and Kincardine Family Health Teams, asks that the community prepare itself by practicing social distancing over the coming weeks and by avoiding events or large gatherings where the opportunity for exposure exists.
He also advises that anyone who believes they might be infected to isolate themselves and immediately contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit Coronavirus Information Line at 519-376-9420 ext. 3000 or the Family Health Team Coronavirus Information Line at 519-396-2700 ext. 220 or the South Bruce Grey Health Centre – Kincardine Site at 519-396-3331 ext. 1, to report symptoms and to receive triage over the phone.
Glover suggests that residents take steps to gather a two-week supply of food and medications in case residents find it necessary to isolate, and to arrange a course of action for daycare and list of people who can assist you if you do become ill. Readers can read his letter in its entirety on page seven of this edition.
On March 12, Ontario Government Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, along with Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, announced that all publicly funded schools would be closed for an additional two weeks after the March break. Classes are expected to resume on April 6. The order came on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and was approved by the Lieutenant Governor.
The order was issued in response to the spread of Covid-19 in Ontario. The shutdown includes both elementary and secondary schools. Ontario was the first province to close schools. Quebec followed suit on March 13 as did Alberta on March 15.
Locally, retirement residences that are home for many seniors are taking special precautions for their vulnerable residents.
At Malcolm Place, the residence is closed to the public.
“All local retirement homes are closed to visitors right now, as directed by public health and our local doctors,”said John Piper, the owner and operator of Malcolm Place. “Malcolm Place does not have any cases of Covid-19. We are screening everyone who enters our building with no exceptions. Our healthcare team has been given access to Dr. Roth, who will come into Malcolm Place to check on our residents, thus minimizing the potential of exposure at the hospital waiting room.”
It is much the same at Trillium Court.
“We have cancelled all events that encourage social gathering,” said Heike Boettcher, lifestyle consultant and resident services coordinator at Trillium Court retirement residence. “When you are in close proximity, just by talking you can get that virus.”
The residence has introduced a number of preventative measures to keep staff and seniors healthy. Boettcher said staff is being updated three times daily on any new measures that will be taken.
“Visitors still can visit, we now have screening,” said Boettcher. “All visitors answer a questionnaire, sign in, have their temperature taken and sanitize hands.”
The 17 branches of the Bruce County library system have cancelled programming for the next three weeks. This includes all special events, activities and meetings, but the library branches will maintain its regular hours. On the library website it states that this is a proactive measure designed as a precaution to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Brooke McLean, the acting director of the Bruce County libraries, said that for people who don’t wish to venture out to the library at this time, to remember that there are services such as books, magazines and music available through its website at www.library.brucecounty.on.ca.
“We are monitoring the situation,” said McLean. “Our staff and the public are a high priority. Their health is paramount.”
Wendy Walker, the assistant manager at Kincardine Sobeys, saw an increase in store traffic on March 12 almost immediately after the public health notice was released, and a flood of people when the school closures notice hit the news. While not panicked, shoppers came in looking for the items suggested in the public health notice, including cough and cold medications, non-perishable food items, canned foods, pet food and frozen fruits and vegetables.
“People are loading up on items,” said Walker. “Instead of buying one can of tuna, they are buying six. Instead of buying one can of soup, they are buying a dozen.”
She believes that a number of factors are contributing to the run on these items. In part, the return of snowbirds coming back to Canada and needing to replenish their cupboards is bringing in shoppers, part are people building that two-week supply of food and part are people who may have had to cancel their travel plans, and now have to feed their children at home for the next three weeks.
Walker says that they are still receiving daily delivery of products so shelves are continuously being refilled with popular items. The one item that everyone seems to have difficulty keeping in stock is sanitation products. Because of the high demand and people purchasing multiple items rather than just one, they are in short supply.
These are just a few of the reactions that have been happening close to home since the government stepped up its reaction to the pandemic. On March 11, Prime Minister Trudeau addressed the public and announced that a Covid-19 response fund of more than $1 billion has been established. From that fund, $500 million has been earmarked to support health care system needs, $275 million for research and $150 million for public health response, including funding for Indigenous Services Canada. $50 million will be made available to support Public Health with communications and public education efforts.
$50 million has been allocated for personal protective equipment, another $50 million for international assistance, $12 million for a work sharing program, $7 million for repatriation of Canadians and $2 million will be sent to the World Health Organization. The Prime Minister also announced that the employment insurance waiting period for workers who are in quarantine due to the virus will be waived and $5 million will be available for sick benefits. The government is also researching ways to financially support sick workers who don’t qualify for EI benefits.
“Our message to Canadians is clear: to every worker and business, in every province and territory, we have your back and we will get through this together,” said Trudeau at the announcement.
In a special media presentation on March 13, the Prime Minister announced that the federal government was advising against all non-essential travel, outside of Canada, until further notice.
As this crisis continues to evolve, The Kincardine Independent will endeavour to keep the public as up-to-date as possible with timely, reliable information. Updates, government releases and cancellations are changing by the hour. As cancellations are fluid and continue to come in, we suggest everyone calls ahead to make sure these events are still scheduled to occur. We will do our best to pass this information along to you through our website www.independent.on.ca and The Kincardine Independent Facebook page.
In the meantime we urge all readers to adhere to the recommendations put forth by Public Health.
As of press time, The Independent has received the following cancellations:
All publicly funded elementary and secondary schools will be closed until April 6. Updates can be found on the Bluewater Board website at https://www.bwdsb.on.ca/Parents/wuhan_novel_coronavirus.
The Davidson Centre and the Tiverton Community Centre will remain closed until April 5.
Through the Bluewater District School Board: Adult education classes, before and after school programs, child care centres, board meetings, committee meetings, the Education Centre, Outdoor Education Centre, maintenance shop, extracurricular activities, school trips, March break camps, Ontario Secondary School Literacy Tests and school buses are cancelled.
All programs offered by Bruce County that are run through the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, Bruce County Public Library Branches and the EarlyON Child and Family Centres will be cancelled from March 14 until April 5.
All County offices will remain open until further notice.
Ripley and District Horticultural Society “Fun with Dirt” event is cancelled.
At Big Brothers and Big Sisters Kincardine, all group programs will be postponed for a minimum of three weeks. Community one-to-one matches will continue as scheduled.
Friday night bingo at the Kincardine Legion is cancelled.
In Huron Kinloss, the Township of Huron-Kinloss has closed all recreational facilities (The Ripley Huron Community Centre, Point Clark Community Centre and Lucknow Town Hall Theatre). This includes all March Break programming, private rentals and public skates.
The Township Office, and all other municipal operations and services will continue as usual for the time being.
Effective Tuesday, March 17, community laboratory collections at the Kincardine Family Health Team will be temporarily changed to 8 a.m. to 12 noon.
All County office buildings are closed to the public beginning Monday, March 16, until Sunday, April 5, 2020.
Due to these closures, all County Council and committee meetings scheduled during this time are cancelled.
Under the direction of David Williams, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, visiting to Long Term Care Homes in Ontario will stop today except for compassionate reasons. Both Bruce County long term care homes, Brucelea Haven and Gateway Haven, have implemented this action.
Public Health, Ontario.ca and Canada.ca reinforce that everyone should follow these precautions:
Practice safe social distancing and be rigorous in their personal hygiene
Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Sneeze and cough into your sleeve, or use a tissue and discard it immediately
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Avoid contact with people who are sick
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
Stay home if you are sick
Please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 for questions specific to an individual health
concerns. Residents can also contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit COVID-19 Helpline at 1-800-263-3456
press 3000 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm).
By Tammy Schneider