GREY-BRUCE – As of Monday, Nov. 23, Grey-Bruce entered the Yellow stage of the Ontario Public Health classification system.
The change from Green to Yellow means greater restrictions and enhanced enforcement – including operational restrictions on bars and restaurants, sports and recreational facilities, personal care services, retail spaces and other businesses – an outcome that none of us desires, according to Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health. Arra added that collectively, it is in our control to change our designation back to Green as soon as we can – but it will take an effort from all of us.
As of press time, there were 50 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, plus eight probable cases. Most concerning are the 280 high risk contacts associated with active cases. As stated on the health unit’s website, “It takes a tremendous amount of effort to manage this number of high-risk contacts. This number will keep increasing, unless we limit, starting today, our unprotected encounters with all people outside of our own households.”
Two people in Grey-Bruce are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
Although there are no facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks, as of Nov. 24, Grey Bruce Public Health was working with Bluewater District School Board to address a case of COVID-19 associated with Hillcrest Elementary School in Owen Sound. The bus route associated with this case has been deemed low risk. Public health officials will notify anyone considered at high risk, so they can isolate and be tested.
There have been 283 cases to date in Grey-Bruce. Owen Sound has had the highest number – 69, while Southgate in Grey County has had 40 (15 of them active), and Kincardine in Bruce County has had 36 (nine active). All municipalities in the two counties have had at least one case of COVID-19.
For detailed information on the Yellow category of the framework, please visit the provincial website. It helps to explain the changes resulting from the change from Green to Yellow. The Grey Bruce Health Unit has fact sheets available to assist the public and businesses in understanding these changes.
Stated on the Grey Bruce Health Unit website was the following: “We have been seeing a deeply concerning trend of a significant increase in the number of cases locally, and in the number of close contacts of these cases. These findings are indicative of fatigue related to following public health measures. It is important that we re-focus our energy on the basic measures that can keep us safe – the same ones that got us through the spring first wave.”
Those measures include:
• Wash your hands frequently.
• Watch your distance (ideally two metres or six feet).
• Wear your face covering correctly (over nose and mouth).
• Avoid crowds.
• Arrange for outdoor activities instead of indoors whenever possible.
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Avoid close contact (unprotected contact within six feet of each other) with those from outside your household.
• Avoid travel to areas with higher transmission and minimize non-essential travel.
• Be kind, be calm, be safe.
• Stay informed.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times