Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
MUSKOKA — As COVID cases rose over Thanksgiving, look for more restrictions “soon” across the province soon like the Toronto, Ottawa and Peel red zones.
So says Dr. Charles Gardner, chief medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
He said with 1,553 new Ontario cases the past two days — and the local health unit reaching 55 since Friday — it’s not looking good for Halloween, Remembrance Day and even maybe Christmas.
Meanwhile Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top federal health official, said trick-or-treating can go ahead if it’s done safely at a distance, with masks and candy is dished out with no contact.
In Muskoka today, Oct. 13, there were just cases reported.
A Bracebridge man, 34-44, tested positive and it was listed as community acquired.
And a Muskoka Lakes man, 18-34, had close contact in contracting the coronavirus.
Gardner said there are now four deaths in an outbreak at Simcoe Manor in Beeton, which has just come under COVID management by Royal Victoria Hospital.
He said Simcoe County asked for help and he issued an order on Friday, Oct. 9. It’s the third regional hospital to step in and help with extra care since the pandemic began last winter.
The MOH told MuskokaTODAY.com in response to the muted tone of his media messaging that with the “tremendous growth” — the 110 cases last week being a 50 per cent week-over-week increase — “I am absolutely very concerned about the increasing numbers, the trends.
“Not just the numbers we see. But I’m worried about what we don’t see. I’m concerned the transmissions that are happening now, you won’t see for two to three weeks. …”
He added “I indeed will lose sleep as I have a lot of concerns on my mind. I think it’s really, really important as a local health leader to convey clearly what’s happening.
“It’s easier to convey if you’re calm. I cultivate that because I need to be an effective indicator of what’s happening. So it’s important that I’m able to do that in a clear, calm way so that we can act on it in a rational way.
“We all need to take to heart what’s happening and fully understand the control measures that we all need to implement to bring this under control. So if I’m coming across as calm, I think it’s the best way to clearly indicate to people what they need to know.”
But really, shouldn’t he be more vociferous in his warnings?
“I think we all have our own style of communication. I tend not to go there readily. I would prefer to be understood clearly. And I feel that making a rational approach is most likely to succeed.
“I indeed can become frustrated when I learn people aren’t abiding by the control measures. I see it as a very challenging thing to get everybody on side, and getting everybody to do what they need to do.
“I know that messages alone are of limited impact. It also knows the rules the province puts in place that are particularly effective.
“For example, I noted early in the spring and into the summer when I, when we were starting to recommend that people start wearing face coverings and masks — in indoor public places — that maybe 30 per cent of the people that I saw when I was shopping were wearing a masks.
“And after I issued my letter of instruction requiring masks, that it went up to 100 per cent.”
Gardner said “It’s also the requirement, the orders and directives and the law essentially that is most effective in the end changing what we do.
“Therefore, I’d rather we identify what need to do and put in place rather than to use a lot of emotion. And like tone.”
Meanwhile, Ontario reported 807 new cases Monday and 746 Tuesday.
Quebec still leads the country in daily counts, with 815 today, Oct. 13.
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