No one in Ontario has been saying “Thank God, it’s Friday,” lately because Friday is the day that the Government of Ontario announces who’s moving up, or more likely down, the colour-coded ladder back towards lockdown. In a rare instance of advocating for greater health restrictions, the Medical Officer of Health for Wellingt0n-Dufferin-Guelph is asking the Province to consider moving our area from orange to red this Friday.
“I want to tell every resident of our region in the strongest possible terms, that COVID-19 is spreading very quickly in our community. The rate at which cases continue to grow – especially in the last few days – requires immediate action,” Dr. Nicola Mercer said in a statement on the public health website.
“Moving to Red will place significant pressure on every resident and business in our region,” Mercer added. “My preference is always to use less-intrusive and targeted approaches, but the current situation requires we consider all the tools available to us to halt the spread of the virus.”
Dr. Mercer’s statement comes after Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting where Christopher Beveridge, the director of health protection at WDG Public Health, explained that it’s actually kind of surprising to him that our area has not been moved to level “Red-Control” already.
“Presently, we’re in the orange, or restrict, category, and we’ve been towing the ‘Red-Control’ measure and just waiting for the Province to make us red, which hasn’t happened yet,” Beveridge said noting that the number of confirmed cases and the test positivity number are both trending in the wrong direction.
“Our rates are going up because people are still getting together,” Beveridge explained. “We’ve had complaints coming in to bylaw and the health unit where we’ve done investigations of people who’ve had parties and then they’re exposed because they’re not taking the precautions seriously enough.
“It’s a concern because our precautions haven’t changed. If people did all the things to stop transmission, our rates wouldn’t be climbing as high as they are,” Beveridge added.
Public Health’s red alert represents a shift in urgency for the local health authority, it was just a week ago that Dr. Mercer told the Board of Health that our region looked good to remain orange, which shows what difference seven days can make in the course of a pandemic.
According to public health’s COVID dashboard, the 7-Day moving rate is now 68.3 cases per 100,000 people, and that test positivity is now at 3.1 per cent. There were 24 new cases on Wednesday, which doesn’t sound that bad, but there are currently 195 active cases in our area including 111 in Guelph, 24 in Wellington, 23 in Dufferin, and 37 that are so far unassigned.
“Each of us has the power to choose actions that help prevent the spread of the virus, that keep us safe, that keep our friends and family safe,” said Dr. Mercer. “I’m asking every one of us to make those choices starting right now. Going to a dinner party or gathering right now may mean that your family is dealing with COVID-19 over the holidays.”
In terms of good news, Mayor Cam Guthrie took part in a call with Premier Doug Ford, members of the Provincial cabinet and General Rick Hillier, who’s been appointed to supervise the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. In a Twitter thread covering the call, Guthrie expressed his enthusiasm for the plan, and for provincial leadership to get Ontarians, including Guelphites, vaccinated.