More creative COVID-19 education coming

CK public health unit. (Photo courtesy of CKPHU)

Chatham-Kent Public Health is ramping up COVID-19 public education to dispel public misunderstanding about the coronavirus.

Board members met on Wednesday morning and decided more creative education about the virus is required because people are confused or outright ignoring the health and safety rules after six months of the pandemic.

CK Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby reiterated certain misunderstandings to the board and emphasized that you can’t be poisoned or harmed by the alcohol in hand sanitizer if it’s used correctly. Colby also reinforced that soggy masks can infect a person and singing at church or elsewhere is risky when it comes to spreading the virus.

General Manager of Community and Human Services April Rietdyk said it’s a good opportunity to review public health messaging to give it some “oomph”, adding the public needs to be reminded that it’s still not safe to resume life as it was before the pandemic.

“For six months now we have walked by the posters saying wash your hands and they’re in the bathrooms above the sink and people have probably, unfortunately, stopped looking at that,” said Rietdyk. “How do we change up the message so that we bring some new life into the messaging and if we can think of some creative ways to re-engage people that COVID-19 is still here.”

Councillor Carmen McGregor said she and other councillors are hearing from a lot of people who are still confused or have become confused about the virus and can’t keep track of all of the information.

“People tend to think that when cases are higher in larger urban centres like Toronto that for some reason that’s not going to travel here and that we don’t need to be as strict with our method of distancing and hand cleansing and such,” McGregor said.

The health board is also encouraging the public to keep following health and safety rules such as physical distancing, hand sanitizing, and wearing face masks. It’s also thanking those who are following them.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Dr. Colby also broke down the COVID-19 numbers for the board. He said 75 per cent of the 366 total confirmed cases are among the rural population but there were very few children infected. Eighty per cent of the cases were close contacts of a positive case, and 65 per cent are either farm workers or temporary foreign workers. Colby added all 366 of the total cases were confirmed positives and any false positives previously reported have been removed from the statistics.