January 01, 2022
BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — So, what could be the number one story of the year? Hmmm, I wonder...
All kidding aside, we wish it wasn't so, but once again, COVID-19 dominated the news in 2021.
Think back to where we were one year ago... COVID-19 case numbers were rising at an alarming rate and front-line medical workers were exhausted. Our medical officer of health was imploring us continue to wash our hands, keep six feet apart and wear face masks. Mass immunization strategies were being discussed and rolled out.
Fast-forward to today and hey, wait a minute — is this déjà-vu or what?
While it might seem that way, a lot has transpired between then and now.
In mid-January, the government issued a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely.
On January 31, the first death in Grey Bruce related to COVID-19 was confirmed.
Later in the Spring, Premier Doug Ford would unveil his 3-step plan for reopening the economy but it wouldn't be until the end of July when things came back to some sense of normalcy. Protests popped up voicing displeasure with the COVID-related provincial stay-at-home order and other health unit guidelines.
As the year turned over to the next, elementary and high school-aged kids were struggling with online learning — an unwelcome feature of their previous semester. But despite confusion over stay-at-home orders, most children returned to class on Monday, January 25 amid much hesitation from teachers, parents and guardians.
By the end of the month, the Grey Bruce COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force had been organized. Soon, mass-immunization hubs were set up to ramp up delivery of the vaccines and access to vaccine supplies were distributed to the most vulnerable in our population first.
In March, the new provincial COVID-19 vaccine booking system trial in Grey Bruce was underway and the first vaccinations were being administered to those 80 years-old and up.
The 'Delta Variant' made its way into our vernacular and at the beginning of July, the Grey Bruce region was declared a COVID-19 Hot Spot. The designation lasted approximately three weeks.
But vaccinations continued at a rapid pace and by the end of July, the mass-immunization hubs were being dismantled, giving way to smaller clinics. In Grey Bruce, over 200,000 vaccinations had been administered and the summer looked a little less restrictive moving forward.
Many retailers opened up to indoor traffic but limited capacities. Still others continued to rely on their curbside pickup option. Outdoor markets like the Flesherton and District Farmers' Market put COVID protocols in place and pushed ahead with their season. Many restaurants opened up for the first time in months and outdoor patios helped a lot.
August and September proved to be rather smooth sailing but many warned about the upcoming winter months and how the virus would run its course when we all retreated to less-ventilated indoor spaces.
October was warmer than normal — an extended period of relative safety from viral infection? November saw case numbers creeping upwards again. And then...
On December 20, the first case of the Omicron Variant in Grey Bruce was confirmed. Since then, COVID-19 case numbers across the province have been rising at an unprecedented rate. In response, the Ontario government ramped up restrictions on social gatherings, indoor and outdoor capacities to levels not seen since those sun-frolicking, free-wheeling days of late summer.
Where do we go from here?
Governments are scrambling to get third doses into arms and distribute COVID-19 test kits as fast as they can. Remote learning is back in play and even more restrictions could be on the way. One thing is for sure... things will likely change rapidly, so keep your computers tuned to this website for all the fun news to come!
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