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13-Mar-2020

The latest on COVID-19 in Grey and Bruce


Empty shelves

The last few toilet paper packages sit on otherwise-empty shelves at the Durham L & M Food Market following an inexplicable run on the product — a sign that people are hunkering down and getting ready for the worst. The practice of toilet-paper-hoarding has angered many people on social media because it prompted a shortage of the household necessity in stores across the province over the last few days. Hand sanitizer is also impossible to find anywhere.

As of this date, the Grey Bruce Health Unit reminds residents that there are still no identified cases of the COVID-19 in Grey or Bruce Counties. In a recent statement, the GBHU said, "While there is the likelihood of individual cases, the means to prevent a widespread outbreak of this virus lies with each of us."

But the signs that things are rapidly devolving have been flying in our face all week. Major league sports have suspended their seasons. Stock markets values around the world have nose-dived, leading to a 'bear market' — an unprecedented 20%+ decline — in a mere 20 days of activity. The province has taken the unprecedented step of extending the closing of schools and advising that all large group gatherings of 250 or more should be suspended. Many other organizations are following that lead and additional direction from the province includes not visiting hospitals and senior’s facilities and limiting all non-essential travel outside of Ontario.

Southgate Ruth Hargrave Memorial Library will be closed from March 14 to 21 due to COVID-19 concerns. They will be reassessing the situation at the end of next week. But for now, all programs and room bookings have been cancelled during these dates. Library materials out on loan can be returned to the outside drop box while the facility is shut down.

Grey Roots Museum and Archives, south of Owen Sound, have cancelled March events, including all March Break programs next week. Many other community groups are weighing their options, regarding their own gatherings at this time.

Even Prime Minister Trudeau is isolating himself after learning of his wife Sophie's COVID-19 diagnosis. In a related announcement, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound federal MP Alex Ruff issued the following statement, "This morning, Parliament suspended due to concerns over COVID-19. Going forward, I will be cutting down on public events, and doing as much business over the phone as possible. I want to ensure I will not be a potential carrier of the virus or put my constituents at risk via my travels across the riding. My staff in Ottawa, and in the constituency office in Owen Sound, will still be available to assist constituents and communicate with the media. To promote everyone’s health and safety, please call or email in advance of visiting my office. We will be releasing an updated protocol shortly for the constituency office to ensure maximum health protection for both the staff and anyone seeking assistance."He added, "I urge everyone to follow the precautions recommended by Health Canada to stay healthy and safe."

These are strange times indeed, but the GBHU also wants to remind residents that they can reduce their risk of contracting this virus, including the practice of safe social distancing, through rigorous personal hygiene behaviour:

  • 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

Not everyone needs to be tested. The province has established a process of pre-screening individuals to determine if testing is warranted. The focus is on prioritization of those at highest risk.

As part of an escalating response to safeguard the health of our communities, the GBHU has enhanced infectious disease response capabilities to prevent or decrease further transmission of the virus in Grey Bruce. We have been working closely with healthcare, municipal and private sector partners to support their response. As well, the GBHU continues to work closely with provincial and national partners to monitor and detect any cases of COVID-19 in the community. "We thank those partners for their ongoing cooperation and support," said a recent GBHU media release.

Please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 for questions specific to an individual health concern. Residents can also contact the GBHU COVID-19 Helpline at 1-800-263-3456 press 3000 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm).

The GBHU continues to encourage people to connect with trusted sources for information, including canada.ca/coronavirus.

Visit Ontario’s ontario.ca/coronavirus to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

 


At South Grey News, we endeavour to bring you truthful up-to-date local community news in a quick and easy-to-digest format that’s free of political bias. We believe this service is more important today than ever before, as social media has given rise to misinformation, largely unchecked by big corporations who put profits ahead of their responsibilities.

South Grey News does not have the resources of a big corporation. We are a small, locally owned-and-operated organization. Research, analysis and physical attendance at public meetings and community events requires considerable effort. But contributions from readers and advertisers, however big or small, go a long way to helping us deliver positive, open and honest journalism for this community.

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Updated March 12, 2020.

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