‘This isn’t over’: Residents reminded to stick with COVID-19 precautions

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / shmeljov

The Medical Officer of Health in Chatham-Kent is hoping residents maintain health precautions as emergency orders, due to COVID-19, remain in place.

Dr. David Colby said concerns stem from a surge in cases being seen in areas within the province and in the U.S.

“I think the surges that we’ve seen in many places in the United States are giving everybody pause… at least cold feet about diving right into full-scale reopening,” he said. “This isn’t over and we really need to maintain our physical distancing.”

Chatham-Kent has reported a total of 157 cases but as of Friday, only seven are active. Colby said the difficulty with having a relatively low number of cases is that most of the population is still susceptible.

“It’s only a tiny number of people who have had this virus so there’s nothing approaching what would be call herd immunity and resistance for things to spread from person to person,” he said. “We started with a tiny number of cases that amplified. We’re on the downturn now and we want to keep it that way.”

Many businesses across Chatham-Kent have reopened in the last month after the province allowed the municipality to move into Phase Two of its reopening framework. However, Colby held some services back from reopening, such as splash pads. He previously said until playgrounds — which are typically found directly across from splash pads — are allowed to reopen, splash pads will remain closed.

“It’s very difficult to maintain physical distancing and enforcement in those kinds of scenarios but we’re keeping an eye on that,” he said. “As soon as the province greenlights playground equipment, we’ll open the splash pads right away.”

Environment Canada’s extended forecast for Chatham-Kent this week shows hot and humid conditions with highs expected to hover around the low to mid-30s.

As for the possibility of Chatham-Kent moving into Phase Three in the near future, Colby said its tough to say whether nearby communities will be a factor.

Leamington and Kingsville remain at Stage One due to workplace outbreaks in the agri-food sector. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 88 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 98 new cases on Sunday.

“The Premier had said previously that that would be taken into account but I mean, we moved into a full Phase Two with all of Essex County and Lambton County in Phase One earlier. I will likely learn about that at the same time everyone else does,” said Colby. “The province usually doesn’t give medical officers of health advance information when it’s going to make those kinds of changes.”

Colby said, for the time being, the best thing people can do is maintain precautions such as physical distancing.