Mark Clairmont |

BRACEBRIDGE — Add another Pines health care worker to the growing list of COVID-19 cases ramping up across the country as public restrictions tighten.

This just as this week the District of Muskoka’s retirement and LTC home was cleared after 14 days since its last institutional outbreak involving a worker and resident.

Saturday, Sept. 19, the health unit told them another “care team member” tested positive for the coronavirus in the Pines’ latest bi-weekly testing of all staff members.

Residents living in the pod where the staff member worked will be tested Monday, Sept. 21, based on the recommendation from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU).

And all staff will also be re-tested through next week.

A total of 186 staff were tested — with the results of 80 of them still pending.

The unidentified staff member is not experiencing any symptoms and is self-isolating at their own home.

As a precaution the Pines must consider a single confirmed case in a staff member a confirmed respiratory outbreak in the home.

So for now it will again suspend all resident visits, while enhanced protocols for the cleaning of high touch surfaces and resident living areas continues.

The district says it remains focused on protecting residents and staff at the Pines Long-Term Care Home from COVID-19 and extensive measures are being taken to ensure the health, safety of wellbeing of residents and staff remain in place.

The Pines recently experienced its first outbreak resulting from one employee testing positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 30 and subsequently one resident testing positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 2.

This first outbreak was deemed resolved by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit on Sept. 16, 2020.

Regular updates continue to be provided to residents, their families, and staff along with regular updates to the community.

How can the community help?  Take extra care.

According to SMDHU, community spread of the COVID-19 has sharply risen to numbers not seen since the spring and they are asking the public to shrink their social circles as much as possible to those within their own household and to be cautious to reduce their exposure within the community.

SMDHU has provided the following steps to keep everyone safe, including those returning to school and those living in long-term care homes:

Shrink your close contacts (the people you can get close to such as hugging and touching) as much as possible to only those people within your own household and those whose well-being requires or is dependent on you.

Think carefully about how often and where you go out to in the public, try to limit to what is essential and avoid crowded spaces.

Limit social gatherings, and keep the number of people in your gatherings and get-togethers to 10 people or less indoors, or 25 or less outdoors. When gathering with people outside of your household, practice physical distancing, or wear a mask if you can’t.

Parents should screen children for symptoms of COVID-19 every day before they leave for school; if a child has even one symptom, they should stay home and self-isolate, and get tested.

The employee has no symptoms, but residents where the staff member worked will be tested starting Monday and all employees retested next week.