16 new COVID-19 cases in Chatham-Kent

Nasal swabs in test tubes. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / ayo88.

There has been another jump in the number of COVID-19 cases across Chatham-Kent.

CK Public Health reported 16 new cases on Friday afternoon and 10 recovered cases. The health unit said there are currently 83 active cases in the community. Four people are still in the hospital recovering from the virus and the death toll remains unchanged at two.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby told Blackburn News on Friday he’s hoping that it’s a quiet weekend but there’s no way to know.

“The cases in Low German speakers keep coming in, but large numbers are scheduled to be cleared so I hope our active cases drop,” Colby said.

Colby said wishing the province makes masks mandatory across Ontario to unify a patchwork of municipal bylaws is a moot point because Premier Doug Ford has already said he is not going to make masks mandatory for everybody.

The new bylaw in Chatham-Kent requiring that masks be worn in certain enclosed or indoor public spaces to limit the spread of COVID-19 came into effect on Friday. It does not apply to common areas of apartments or condominiums unless property management had implemented an additional policy that requires face coverings be worn in common spaces.

Business customers in CK who are exempt from the bylaw do not need to show proof and no further action is needed on behalf of the operator.

Dr. Colby said he thinks making masks mandatory for Grades 4 and up and optional for Grades 3 and lower has to do with how well each of the groups will follow direction upon return to the classroom.

“The exemption for third grade and lower is based on opinion about compliance likelihood for younger children,” he added.

Dr. Colby said there’s also a lot of discussion about back to school issues, everything from classes being too large to many school HVAC systems not being able to circulate the air properly during a pandemic. Colby said attention to air exchange rates is more important for true airborne infections such as tuberculosis, chickenpox, and measles where everyone in the room is at risk rather than for droplet spread infections like COVID-19 where people are at risk within two metres. The province announced on Thursday $50 million in one-time funding to improve HVAC systems, ventilation, and air quality in school buildings. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said school boards will focus on improving air systems in older buildings as well as portable classrooms, and in neighbourhoods with a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.