COVID roundup: Case jump serves as reminder to stay put, Arra says
The Owen Sound Times

The COVID-19 case total in Grey-Bruce increased by five Monday afternoon, bringing the total to 26, the largest local single-day increase.

Dr. Ian Arra, the medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce, said the jump in cases should remind people how important it is self-isolate, hand-wash, keep their distance from others and stop all non-essential travel to tamp down the spread through the community.

The new cases include a man in his 60s, a woman in her 30s, a woman in her 90s and a woman in her 20s, all isolating, and a woman in her 50s who is in hospital. Nine people have recovered, the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s 20th situation report said.

One of the new cases is a healthcare worker. Now there are seven healthcare providers who’ve tested positive for this novel strain of the coronavirus. One Owen Sound long-term care home, Maple View, is listed as having COVID-19 since April 1.

Thirty-four people tested negative, meaning they don’t have COVID-19.

Arra declined to say whether more staff at Maple View have become infected with the virus, fearing he might be “stigmatizing” the home by doing so.

“Whether there is a case, two or three, the level risk in a facility has increased, which required the interventions to be more rigorous,” Arra said. “Naming how many more people or how many more healthcare workers, really, I would worry about stigmatizing the facility.”

He said he checked the public health history of Maple View and “they have a really good record. Their staff have actually sat on a committee that worked with our health unit to produce better protocols for all nursing homes and retirement homes in Grey-Bruce.”

He said he didn’t want to increase the anxiety of Maple View residents or their families who may be considering moving their loved ones out either.

“Frankly, anywhere in Grey-Bruce, the level of risk has increased in any facility similar to this facility . . . the fact that it was hit first more or less it’s just chance . . . knowing they have a good record.”

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The Grey Bruce Health Unit issued a news release Monday which Dr. Ian Arra said is in part an attempt to reassure people who have called for more details about people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

“I would like to reassure the public that all COVID19 cases now identified to Public Health are in compliance with the requirement to isolate until recovery. We contact these individuals on a daily basis for monitoring,” the release said.

In an interview Monday he added: “The repeated question, where is the location? Why don’t you release it? Well, this is the reason why we don’t release it. Because the risk . . . is no different whether they live in the next door or the next town,” he said.

“Every person should assume any interaction with another person could (have) COVID virus involvement. So it might give the false reassurance to somebody to tell them the location of the case in town X. If they are in town Z, they might not be as careful.”

The release also informed people they must be truthful with healthcare providers and if there are doubts about that, “public health is working with local enforcement agencies to ensure compliance.”

Public health has referred no cases to police at this time, Arra said.

“If people are not honest and complete about their own symptoms when they are dealing with healthcare providers, not just public health,” they might expose those workers to the virus and require them to isolate from their jobs, Arra added.

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A second Grey-Bruce Bruce Power Town Hall teleconference is scheduled for tonight from 6 to 7 p.m. to update the public on the lastest COVID-19 information and give people a chance to speak directly with public health officials.

People will receive a phone call just before 6 p.m. with an invitation to join the event, which will feature Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Arra, Mike Rencheck, the president and CEO of Bruce Power, which is sponsoring the event again, along with elected representatives.

The town hall will be broadcast live by 560 CFOS AM, CKNX AM 920 and 92.3 The Dock and The Shoreline’s myFM. A recording will be available on shortly after the conclusion of the information session.

A town hall teleconference is also scheduled for Thursday in Huron County, also at 6 p.m.

The first Grey-Bruce town hall teleconference took place March 19.

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Meaford has banned open-air fires to help ensure its firefighters can respond to urgent calls amid the threat of the COVID-19 disease, Fire Chief John deHooge said in an announcement on the town’s website.

The ban includes burning of grass, debris and campfires, even when using an outdoor fire grate, fireplace or fire pit. The ban also includes fire permit holders. But portable gas or propane barbecues are still permitted.

Likewise, Hanover announced an open fire and lighting of fireworks ban until further notice. Fire permits which have been issues may not be used until this temporary fire ban is lifted, the notice on the town’s website says.

Bruce County imposed a similar fire ban on April 3 until further notice.

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Meaford’s Scarecrow Invasion and Family Festival was cancelled Monday due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Though the event doesn’t happen until the fall, the process of collecting used clothing and props typically begins this time of year, then volunteers gather in May to start building hundreds of scarecrows, a festival news release said.

“Instead, we encourage our volunteers to practice social distancing, to stay home, stay safe, and plan on coming together this time next year,” for the 25th anniversary of the festival in 2021, event chair Donna Earl said in the release.

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