Mayor of SBP defends closure of facilities in wake of Covid cluster

cjos janice jackson


The Mayor of South Bruce Peninsula, Janice Jackson, is taking criticism on the chin for council's decision to close several facilities in light of a Covid cluster that's developed in the town.   

There have been 8 cases identified in the past week - most of them emanating from a single source of exposure. 

The Grey Bruce Health Unit has said one of those who tested positive attended two separate functions which helped spread the virus. 

They've been doing contact tracing and testing since the middle of October when the exposure first came to light.  

As a precaution, South Bruce Peninsula council announced October 23, the closure of town hall in Wiarton to members of the public as well as the Sauble Beach Community Centre and the Wiarton Arena for 14 days stalling the minor hockey season.  

They've also cancelled council meetings for two weeks. 

But Jackson tells Dock News they were one of the few town halls to actually re open again in the summer.  

Most are still closed to the public.  

Medical Officer of Health Dr Ian Arra has been quoted in the Owen Sound Sun Times as saying the health unit did not recommend the measures calling them unnecessary. 

He goes on to say closing facilities that allow people to have better physical and mental health is a decision that should not be taken lightly.  

"We only close what we need to close." 

Mayor Janice Jackson says she'd much rather be criticized for being proactive than for doing nothing.

She says if it were just the 8 cases then they would have no concerns but for each of the positive tests, 20 people have to be traced and contacted.  

"That's how quickly something like this can spread", says Jackson. 

She acknowledges the irony in going the entire summer, hosting a million visitors at Sauble, from all corners, without incident and now when the season is over in October they have a spike.  

But she says even in that case they had to make a tough decision in June to temporarily close the beach to let people know they were serious about keeping the community safe. 

"We have a very small community with a small population and we're seeing a spike and trying to knock it down proactively as quickly as we can".  

Jackson says residents are justifiably concerned right now.  

"There was such fear this summer that all the visitors were going to be bringing this virus to our backyard and we managed to dodge that bullet with a lot of touch decisions but here we are in October and people are very nervous and its up to us to make more strong decisions so we can get through this very quickly."  

If the cluster can be contained, Jackson says they're scheduled to reopen facilities Friday, November 6 in time for minor hockey practices at the arenas on the weekend.  

Meanwhile Dr. Arra and the Grey Bruce Health Unit have issued a release regarding the cluster in South Bruce Peninsula~

 

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is working to lessen concerns and manage unwarranted anxiety in the community as related to a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Municipality of South Bruce Peninsula.

Some of the seven cases associated with this cluster did not have their guard up over the past two weeks, including Thanksgiving weekend. Case management undertaken by the Grey Bruce Health Unit assessed the risk for a significant number of contacts associated with some of these cases.

It is important to note that the first case identified in a cluster, including this one, is not necessarily the source case that transmitted to other cases in the cluster.

Achieving containment of a cluster requires cases to be completely forthcoming in providing details of all contacts. Failure of a case to provide full and complete list of close contacts has the potential to hinder Public Health investigations. Whether additional cases emerge or not, the investigation most often will lead to identifying the individuals that failed to provide complete information. These individuals are not only potentially putting others at risk they are predisposing themselves to the possibility of Section 22 Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act that may entail serious fines and civil court action for injunction on an expedited basis.

Determining who is a close contact is a decision that can only be made by Public Health. A Public Health case manager contacts anyone identified as a contact to the confirmed cases directly. Anyone NOT contacted by Public Health is not considered at risk and need not take any additional steps, including asymptomatic testing.

Additional community response, such as closing facilities, is not required unless directed by Public Health. In this instance, there is no direction nor order given. However, municipalities are entitled to close their facilities.

These cases further confirm that most local transmission is likely community-based and more often than not through household contacts, or close contact in other people’s homes, at parties, and other social gatherings. This is a specific reason why close contact with anyone outside of your household is discouraged.

Currently, there are no COVID-19 outbreaks, evidence of transmission from person to person in any school, childcare centre, or long-term care/retirement home in Grey Bruce.

Public Health takes the lead in all outbreaks and case management. We will let you know if you were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, based on a thorough risk assessment completed only by Public Health. For more information, visit our website www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca

 

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