Province provides an on-line self testing application.

News 100 redBy Staff

March 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Province has launched an enhanced and interactive COVID self-assessment tool.

This new easy-to-use tool takes the public through a series of questions to inform those who are concerned they may have contracted COVID-19.

The app can be found HERE

In a matter of seconds, this tool will help people determine if they are negative or it will provide them with guidance on where to seek care based on their needs. Critically, the enhanced tool provides the province with real-time data on the number and geography of users who are told to seek care, self-isolate or to monitor for symptoms. This data will help inform Ontario’s ongoing response in order to keep individuals and families safe.

Self testing app

It is a relatively simple process – use it often.

“I encourage anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms or may have travelled outside of Canada to first self-isolate and then take a few seconds to complete our new online assessment tool,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This easy-to-use tool, developed with guidance from Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, is a great first step in that process. By answering a few questions, Ontarians will be able to make informed choices about what to do, while the province collects real-time data to enhance our ongoing response.”

The tool guides individuals through a series of questions and, based on their responses, users are provided clear direction on what action to take. These next steps could include: continue to practice social distancing; self-isolate; call a primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario; or in the case of symptoms such as severe difficulty breathing or severe chest pain, call 911 or go to the emergency department.

Those people whose self-assessment shows they may have COVID-19 will be advised to call their primary care provider, who can conduct a virtual assessment by phone or other technology. People can also call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 (24/7), where they can speak to a health care professional about their symptoms. As announced last week, the province is rapidly expanding service capacity to ensure timely responses and has increased Telehealth’s line capacity to more than 2,000 to help manage the high daily call volume.

In some cases, based on the virtual assessment, individuals may be referred by their primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario to one of the province’s 58 assessment centres for an in-person assessment. These centres, which are by referral only, are helping to ease the pressures on hospital emergency departments using innovative care models, including in some cases drive-thru testing.

As part of the investment of up to $304 million to enhance the province’s response to COVID-19, Ontario will be establishing additional assessment centres across the province. The centres are located in dedicated spaces, which will facilitate high-quality care to protect broader patient populations. The 58 centres that have already opened are in several municipalities across the province.
Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

 

 

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Are they deaf, blind or just plain dumb? People walking into Rattlesnake park that was closed.

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 23, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Rattlesnake 1 police car

Police vehicles blocked the entrance to the park – but they didn’t have the authority to physically prevent people from entering.

The message was pretty clear – the Conservation Halton Parks were closed – shut.

The cars that lined the upper reaches of Appleby Line outside the entrance to Rattlesnake Park took up most of the space on the road.

It is behaviour like that that forces governments to put tough rules in place.

Rattlesnake 2

All parked outside the entrance to Rattlesnake Park – Further up the road bylaw enforcement officers were diligently putting tickets underneath the windshield wipers.

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Food Bank has a slightly different problem - the food supply chain has some kinks in it

News 100 redBy Staff

March 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Food Bank operation in Burlington has some problems – not what you think.

They have funds on hand but the places they normally buy from don’t have quite enough in the way of supply.

Another problem is that the food they are given has to be quarantined for a bit because they don’t know what is being donated is totally totally virus free. Not that anyone would donate food that might be contaminated.

Food Bank - Robin

Robin Baily – Burlington Food Bank

Robin Baily, he runs the Food Bank did a video – it’s a little on the long side – six minutes – but worth listening to – try some of it.

Interesting insights – you’ll get to see your community in a different light.

Here’s the link: share it

 

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Rivers masks up for a food run - gets mistaken for a Ninja

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 23, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is frustrating, feeling helpless as we watch the daily roll out of pandemic numbers continue to rise, with no apparent end in sight. The PM and our provincial and federal health officials conduct these daily press conferences if only to confirm that indeed, each day is worse than the day before. If only we could keep more social distance between us and wash our hands more often….

We act as if we are strangers to a pandemic, even though we’ve lived with some lesser viral epidemics, like SARS. And then there was the Spanish Flu back in 1918. My grandmother in Manitoba lost half of her children to that flu.

contagian

Apparently a “must see” movie – it’s available on line.

But if you really want to get depressed you can watch the 2011 movie Contagion, which is scarily similar to what we are experiencing today – life imitating art. It should have been required watching for our health officials. Then perhaps they would have sounded the alarm bell earlier.

On Thursday I finally did a grocery run. I had decided the crowds at Costco last week would jeopardize social distancing, so avoided that. Besides, I wasn’t sure I’d cope watching all those folks filling the back of their pick up trucks with hand sanitizer and whatever else they could get their un-sanitized hands on.

But I was bored with staying around the house and there was absolutely nothing worth watching on TV except those depressing press conferences and the re-runs of Contagion. It is a lot quieter out there in the city now.

The supermarket parking lot was half empty and customer traffic light. I had masked up before entering the store, making me only one of two customers who took that precaution. The store clerks were mostly wearing gloves and were keen to wipe down the cart handles as you entered. And some of them actually managed a smile, though nobody can be too happy these days.

This Wuhan Virus, COVID 19, is a respiratory disease so is most likely transmitted via one’s mouth or nose – sneezing, coughing or even the spray of moisture droplets as someone speaks to you. So I am always going to wear a mask when I go out to shop, especially where there are queues like in a supermarket.

When it came to pay I noticed that the cashier was easily within my one metre social space, and I couldn’t help thinking how much more comfortable I’d be if she was wearing a mask as she spat out “will that be debit or credit”. No doubt she probably would be more comfortable too. I was thankful for my mask, but wished I’d worn glasses as well.

At the height of the epidemic in Wuhan everyone in public had to wear a mask or they’d be arrested. And that, in concert with the quarantine, brought China’s epidemic to heel. Of course Asian populations are used to seeing people wearing masks. It protects them from the overwhelming pollution coming from cars and trucks and industry there.

ninjas

Columnist Rivers in costume?

Western attitudes are rooted in stereotypes. Bank robbers, bandits, ninjas and storm troopers all wear masks to hide their identities. And while the courts are sorting out whether a Muslim woman can say her citizenship oath under cover of a niqāb, one pretty much has to go bare-faced to work in Quebec’s public sector. Medical, dental and industrial/construction trades mainly use face masks to protect themselves.

There is a lot of mixed messaging originating from our health experts about whether the public should be wearing face masks to help contain this new virus. They’ll tell you that it’s more important in public health for the infected person to wear one – which doesn’t explain the doctor’s mask. And some experts will tell you that an improperly fitting mask provides improper protection, which they imply is worse than no protection at all.

But more than likely they know there won’t enough masks to go around if we all start wearing them. Especially if we are all wanting to use the disposable single-use version. Ventilators, masks, gloves and hand sterilizer are all in short supply, so much so that doctors have been approaching veterinarians to raid the cupboards.

Why didn’t our health authorities anticipate this back in January, when we still had lots of time? Same reason they didn’t call for a travel ban until the virus started to be transmitted within the community, I’m guessing. Likely this is one of those compromises in public policy. Act too early and be called a panic artist or act too late and be labeled as dithering.

bus driver safe

Bus driver is protected from the passengers.

But it’s not too late to call for everyone who serves the public to be wearing face protection. Nobody should catch this virus from a store clerk or bus driver. And you can’t practice social distancing for two or even one metre on crowded subway or bus. Fortunately some stores are installing plexiglass cashier shields to protect their customers.

Still, everyone needs to ensure that they’re neither infecting nor being infected. I’ll be proudly sporting a mask every time I go out, even if it means sterilizing and re-using my limited supply. Even if a mask won’t stop me being infected, it would show that I care about the health of all the people prepared to serve in these difficult times.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking. Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington. He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject. Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa. Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Contagion –   Best and worst Cases –    Sleeping at the Switch

Masking –    Experts on Masks –    Supplies

More Supplies –    Dithering –     Better than a Mask?

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Want to get into care mongering - there is just the place to do that.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 23, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is really interesting watching how people respond to a crisis.

The innovative ideas bubble to the surface – there is a new Facebook page that you might find interesting and useful.

Care mongersThis is a place where you can reach out and ask a question – offer some help.

One Mother needed adhesive for a child’s dental brace. Minutes later a different parent happened to have some she was never going to use. Done deal.

It works, some goofy stuff – which makes it kind of fun.

Link to this one.

 

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What does a State of Emergency mean and what can a Mayor actually do?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 23, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Just what kind of power and authority does the Mayor have under the Declaration of Emergency Marianne Meed Ward put in place on Friday?

Here is what the statutes say:

4. (1) The head of council of a municipality may declare that an emergency exists in the municipality or in any part thereof and may take such action and make such orders as he or she considers necessary and are not contrary to law to implement the emergency plan of the municipality and to protect property and the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the emergency area. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.9, s. 4 (1).

What this means is that a Mayor can take action just as long as she abides by the rules the Province has put in place.

Declaring a State of Emergency certainly captures the public’s attention – but there is more driving the message home needed. The lineup of cars outside the Rattlesnake Point Conservation park on Sunday (more than 60 cars) with enforcement officers on either side of the road writing up parking tickets.

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It is very tough for the hospitality sector and for those small operations that cater to the private sector.

News 100 redBy Staff

March 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The financial damage hits different sectors of the economy. Restaurants don’t have customers walking through the doors but they are coping with takeout business. Tim Hortons has all the chairs on the tables but you can get a cup of coffee and a sandwich.

There are private business operations that are service based – there isn’t much in the way of fallback support for them.

Here is the story of one private sector company. It is painful.

The morning was busy with some work ideas and talking with people (I’m actually losing track of what day it is); this afternoon I had a 2 hour nap (unheard of!!). My response to you would not be a simple – “all is OK” .

People give me food and I’m enjoying making meals. The rent is paid through the end of March due to a fluke cash opportunity. And interesting conversations with people about potential collaborations in the future seem to keep happening.

Small business week

If steps are not taken soon we could see the hollowing out of the small business sector.

The flip side is that business would seem to be tough in the future – and I’m honestly unclear as to how that may unfold. One thing I do try to do is live my life from what unfolds naturally – and in this environment I need to be “impatiently patient” – since the way forward is completely murky.

Yes there is financing available – I spent all of Friday researching it and kind of wish I hadn’t – since by the end of the day it was a complete 180• degree change for me and was so disappointed in the government response.

Telling small business to apply for BDC support at rates between 5.05% and 17.05% doesn’t have an ounce of a creative solution in it. Harper did a better job in 2009 with the $10,000 Home Renovation Tax Credit bumped up to $14,000.

Yes there is EI for small business owners – although at this point I have no idea if I will qualify – although I will apply.

Reality is that the big pressure for small and medium business is rent and property taxes (which can be deferred yet still need to be paid). Forcing business to apply for debt to cover these two items when the government is the one who let months go before implementing any type of restrictions to people travelling and returning to Canada and are now forced into a crisis – leaves me speechless.

Add to that there are landlords with deep pockets who would like nothing more to get rid of some unattractive older leases – and it puts incredible pressure on tenants. It’s one thing for a business to own their building and defer mortgage payments. Landlords have a business to run – and they need to make their mortgage payments.

There needs to be a creative solution that explores ways of sharing the burden between landlords, tenants, municipalities for property taxes, and federal government on the rent (they got us into this mess).

Sorry if this email sounds grumpy – I’m simply sad that there isn’t one ounce of creativity in leadership.

We are not identifying the company or the owners – that’s not the important part; what matters is the hollowing out that might take place.

Bromides from the support groups staffed by people who are going to be paid for the duration of this crisis isn’t enough.

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People were out, physical distance was well respected for the most part. We are coping.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It’s now a new reality for all of us.

Getting used to living differently is going to take some time – something we don’t have a lot of.

Livde screen Mar 23

A snapshot at 5:45 am March 23, 2020

We used to look for the sports scores – now we look at reports that tell us just how bad things are around the world: COVID-19 is now amongst us – with the medical people scrambling to keep ahead of it.

Front line people are beginning to be personally infected; we can’t afford to lose access to these people.

Things like gowns for the front line workers; masks as well and ventilators we are going to need if (or is it when) this virus hits the seniors.

Burlington has more seniors on a per capita basis that any other community in Ontario – and they are at risk.

The deaths in the province are relatively low which doesn’t make it any easier to bear.

Spring Break is over (it did take place didn’t it?) The schools won’t open today; parents now know that for the next two weeks at least they are going to have to keep their children occupied.

The Province has put some tough rules in place.

As the Gazette toured the city on Sunday we could see changes in public behaviour. There were people out on the Pier, a number of retail operations were open.

The supermarkets weren’t crowded and, while there were shortages, there was no sense of panic at those we toured.

Sobeys was out of 1% milk; the aisle with flour was close to barren. Couldn’t buy a bag of flour anywhere. Toilet paper shelves were not empty.

Butcher counters were closed but packaged meats were plentiful.

Produce was fine in the stores we toured.

Physical distancing is now the phrase being used –social distancing appears to be going out of practice.

By the way – whatever happened to Climate Change?

For those who want to keep an eye on the global picture – here is the link.

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Mayor orders that Lowville Park be closed indefinitely

News 100 redBy Staff

March 22, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

In a Statement issued at noon the Mayor expanded on her decision to declare a State of Emergency in the city.

Mayor Meed Ward

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Yesterday I declared a State of Emergency for the City of Burlington.

I have received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from our community, along with many valid questions and concerns about what this means for our day to day living, businesses, and parks. I am glad to see this declaration has caused people to more deeply consider their decisions and actions. That was the intended outcome and I know it will help our city through this crisis.

Today, the City of Burlington has made the decision to close Lowville Park to the public, effective Monday, March 23. This is part of the City’s continuing efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus by following the advice of our public health officials to increase social distancing.

Lowville Park has been very busy with visitors using the closed playground and picnic areas. Although many of our visitors have respected social distancing, there are reported concerns with crowding in some areas, parking lot capacity and people entering areas that are marked as closed. The Province prohibited gatherings of 50 people or more when they declared a provincial State of Emergency last week. As a result of similar concerns, Conservation Halton has already closed all their parks to the public.

Rob Peachey, on the left, Manager Parks and Open Spaces for the city, talks through some solutions to managing the very large weekend crowds.

Lowville Park seen from the steps of the schoolhouse

Considering these challenges, Lowville Park will remain closed indefinitely as of Monday. Any vehicles parked in the Lowville Park lot will be towed. We are considering additional park closures on a daily basis. While we want our residents to get outside and stay active, we have to make tough decisions when we do not see the social distancing behaviours our public health officials are recommending.

I know there are many additional questions out there, and to help you better understand what a State of Emergency means to the people of Burlington, to our local businesses, and to our essential services, I have put together the following FAQ.

Why did you declare a State of Emergency?

With the support of Council, senior City staff, our Emergency Control Group, and senior staff at Joseph Brant Hospital, this declaration helps send a message to our community that times are serious and people’s lives are on the line. It aligns us with the Province of Ontario’s declaration earlier last week, and we are seeing many communities across North America do the same to ensure people understand the serious nature of what is going on, to support self-isolation and social distancing, and help to focus our city on essential services and activities.

Can I still go for a walk with my family?

Yes, you can still go for a walk or bike ride and get outside to stay active and get some fresh air, as long as you are doing so with the people from within your own household. As far as other family, friends and neighbours go: no play-dates, no baseball games, no dinner parties or poker nights even with close friends, and no pick-up games of hockey in the street. If you encounter others while out for a walk, employ social distancing techniques and maintain at least a 6-ft distance from everyone except those in your own household and/or immediate family. These steps are critical in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, especially by those with mild or minimal symptoms. Ensure children stay off public playground equipment as it is not disinfected, and we know this virus can live on surfaces for up to 2 days. If you are sick or have been advised to self-isolate due to recent travel, stay home until you are fully recovered or have passed the 14-day self-isolation period with no symptoms.

What is an essential service or business?

An essential service is defined in Federal terms as any service, facility or activity of the Government of Canada that is or will be necessary for the safety or security of the public or a segment of the public.

Examples of government services or activities that may be considered essential include but are not limited to: border safety/security, correctional services, food inspection activities, accident safety investigations, income and social security, marine safety, national security, law enforcement, and search and rescue.

The Province of Ontario’s defined Critical Infrastructure Sectors include food and water, electrical power, gas and oil, financial services, our healthcare system, and transportation networks.

At City Hall, we already closed facilities last week and asked staff to work from home with the exception of services that need to be delivered under one of the following categories:

• Are required to meet certain legislative requirements;
• Support employee and public health, safety and security;
• Enable critical community services and supports, including COVID-19 mitigation and recovery;
• Support services necessary to keep essential services operating;
• Protect and operate vital infrastructure; and
• Fulfill contractual, legal and financial obligations.

It’s common sense. We need law and order, we need emergency services, we need groceries and home maintenance items, we need banks and telecommunication services, we need gas, and we need a supply chain of those products including trucks and drivers to deliver them. Our hospitals and emergency workers need equipment and supplies. We need continuity of government, and we need public safety and security. It’s not as easy as coming up with one definitive list, but we need to use good judgement and give our decisions a second thought.

I still see businesses open that I don’t think are essential – what should I do?

As part of the Orders issued by the Provincial Government on Wednesday, March 17th, 2020, relating to the enforcement the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA), the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) are initiating a planned response to ensure community safety and well-being.

Should police receive concerns relating to complaints of violations of any of the aforementioned orders, they will consider a progressive response of dialogue, education, warning, and enforcement (if required). The HRPS will work with the Region’s health department to assist them in conducting their investigations as well. See the attached link for businesses on the list of the Province’s mandated closures.

As part of Burlington’s State of Emergency, and in addition to the Province’s list of mandated closures, I have encouraged all local businesses to voluntarily close except those that deliver essential goods and services. Neither myself nor the City of Burlington has the power to force a business to close. All I can do is ask.

Please keep in mind that it may not be obvious to the general public what each business does – they could provide rental equipment for essential city services or supplies for our local hospital, for example.

They may have a skeleton staff on-site and be able to maintain social distancing inside their building.

Let’s trust people to make the right decisions and remember to be sympathetic of the significant financial impact it will have on them and their employees to close as we encourage them to prioritize the health and well-being of our community at this time.

What about take-out and drive-thru restaurants? Are they still safe?

We know food is an essential. Whether you are picking up food from the grocery store or a take-out restaurant is not significantly different. As I mentioned before, the virus can live on surfaces for 2 days.

The same can be said for picking up essentials from our local food banks, or accepting at-home deliveries from grocers, Wal-Mart or Amazon. We are relying on both types of business to exercise precautions in their food handling and staff hygiene, and to ensure sick employees and customers stay home. The most important thing is to use good judgement, employ social distancing, wash your hands, and stay home if you’re sick.

I saw my neighbour at the grocery store and he just returned from a trip? Is that allowed?

As part of the State of Emergency, I have asked all our residents to stay home unless they are going to work, to a medical or other essential appointment, or to get essential supplies. Further, the Federal Government has mandated that all individuals who are returning from travel outside of Canada self- isolate for a period of 14-days and self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. That means that recent travelers have additional restrictions and should not be going to work, the grocery store, or other appointments. They must rely on delivery services or ask healthy friends and neighbours to drop off supplies for them. We can help them by offering our support so that they don’t feel the need to go out.

If you are concerned that someone who should be self-isolating is not following those guidelines, or that someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 is not self-quarantined, you can reach out to our local police at 905-825-4777. As I mentioned above, should police receive concerns relating to complaints of violations, they will consider a progressive response of dialogue, education, warning, and enforcement (if required). Please remember that this shouldn’t be a time to shame others or try to catch people doing something wrong. Before reaching out to police, think about alternative ways to support good behaviour. This is a time to constructively spread awareness and offer help to others so that people don’t need to put our community at risk.

How long is this going to last?

Honestly, I don’t know. From what we have seen in other countries, it could be weeks and it could be even longer. The most important thing we can do to help slow the spread of this virus and mitigate the impact it has on our community and our healthcare system is stay home. It only stands to reason that the more we do right now, the better off we will be later.

What else is important to know right now?

The most important thing I want everyone to know right now is to be thoughtful, responsible, and kind. Follow the advice of healthcare experts and local leaders. Avoid the temptation to blame others and treat people the way you would like to be treated. We are all in this together.

This past year I had the pleasure of meeting some of our local WWII veterans as part of the 75th anniversary of D-Day at Juno Beach in France. I heard their stories of sacrifice and understood the bravery and courage it took to fight for our freedoms and safety. It gives me perspective in these challenging times. We are not being asked to leave our families and go overseas to storm a beach. We are being asked to be responsible, to stay home, and be patient. I think it’s the least we can do for each other and our country.

Our top priority remains the health and well-being of our residents. We are committed to keeping you informed in clear and timely manner and encourage you to stay updated via the City’s dedicated website. Additional information on all COVID-19 related matters can be found at the Halton Region website, the Ministry of Health of Ontario’s website, and the Federal Government’s website.

Stay healthy, stay calm, and be kind to one another.

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Our City Councillors seem to have parked themselves on the side lines, letting the Mayor do all the talking Do Something!

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 22, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Premier Doug Ford has said time and again that he will do “Whatever it takes” and for the most part he has lived up to that statement.

As Premier he is looking pretty good. Confident, forthright; no flip flopping. Perhaps a little bragging about the province’s industrial might – but Ontario is the economic engine of the country. I can put up with Doug Ford’s briskness: no forced empathy from this guy.

We are in the midst of a crisis and Ford appears to be doing what needs to be done.

Meghani - Mar 19th

Regional Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Meghani – not a politician in sight as she addresses the public.

The Regional Medical Officer of Health (MoH) is learning to be less bureaucratic and explaining the decisions she has made. She is making the right decisions. She will be a stronger MoH when this crisis ends.

Burlington’s Mayor is doing her best – my own view is that her pleading for the public to be more sensible and responsible isn’t going to do the trick.

The Mayor declared a State of Emergency in the city. It isn’t clear to me just what kind of power she has to force people to do what needs to be done.

Large numbers of people were reported in Spencer Smith Park on Saturday, and at Mt Nemo – people who didn’t seem to know what “social distancing” is – if they did, they ignored the need to social distance.

Our City Councillors seem to have parked themselves on the side lines,  letting the Mayor do all the talking.

During the flood in 2013 then Councillors Sharman and Dennison went door to door asking people if they were all right. Hundreds had flooded basements.

sandwhich board person

Wearing sandwich boards might be a bit much for some of our Councillors – if they care about the people they represent they will get out there with them – at a socially acceptable distance of course

City Councillors can’t knock on doors with this crisis but surely they can summon some of the innovative ideas they used to get elected.

All we are seeing at this point is their repeating what the Mayor is saying – which is good as that keeps the message consistent.

The Mayor speaks for the city and to her credit she is doing a good job.

sandwhich board

How about each Councillor buying half a dozen signs – putting a clear message on them and setting them out in different places in their ward. Real Estate agents do it all the time.

The city Councillors represent the people in their wards and it is incumbent upon those Councillors to get out as much as they can – yes, at an acceptable social distance – and communicate.

They are basically sitting at home, collecting very good pay cheques and waiting this out.

Get out there and communicate. If they are stuck for ideas – try this: Spend some of the expense money you have and buy some sandwich boards – put a message on them and move them around the ward.

Do something!

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Conservation Halton closes all parks: public not following social distance rules

News 100 redBy Staff

March 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The public has not paid enough attention to the requirement to maintain a social distance between people they come into contact with.

Conservation Halton made the decision to close all parks indefinitely as of March 22nd.

Mt Nemo - birch trees

Made for pleasant outdoor walks – people using the park on Saturday did not stay far enough apart. This social distance stuff is serious.

On March 13, we reduced staff in our parks and gatehouses, cancelled all programming and closed some of our parks, while leaving others open for people to engage in passive recreation. We also suspended our regular fees and encouraged visitors to pay what they can. The parks were still served by Park Rangers and other park operations staff with no direct contact with customers. They were monitoring conditions, parking, and visitor safety for adherence to social distancing related to COVID-19.

Our parks were extremely busy on Saturday March 21 with a spike in hiking visits from 12pm onward. Although many of our visitors have respected social distancing, our Rangers observed and reported concerns with crowding in some areas, parking lot capacity and illegal parking, and people entering areas that are marked as closed.

Mt Nemo entrance

Now closed o the public

Considering these challenges, all Conservation Halton parks will remain closed indefinitely. These include Kelso, Mountsberg, Crawford Lake, Rattlesnake Point, Hilton Falls and Robert Edmondson Conservation Areas. All sites will be monitored for illegal access and trespassers will be charged.

“These are extraordinary times and we are not in a position to use staff resources to manage non-compliance with park rules or control crowding proactively. Our collective response to COVID-19 has to be all or nothing when it comes to social distancing.” said Hassaan Basit, Chief Administrative Officer.

Mt Nemo waking trail

People were not staying far enough apart on Saturday – trail now closed.

“Unfortunately, while most people have been very responsible, some have demonstrated a complete disregard for the health advice we must all follow. This leaves us no choice but to close the parks indefinitely. We can not risk the safety of any member of our staff or the broader community.”

“For parents with children at home, Conservation Halton has prepared some online resources to support learning about nature without leaving your home. You can find them on our website at conservationhalton.ca/nature-home-learning-resources.”

Important related news story:

Why is social distance important?

Get Gaz yellow

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A pandemic appears to be something too many people in Burlington don't understand

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We received the following from a trusted source:

I am told on good authority Spencer Smith Park was full of people today (Saturday March 21) and they were like 6 inches not 6 feet apart.

Secondly this past week, on several evenings’, soccer teams were holding practices at city parks.

I would think aside from being dangerous these likely violate provincial rules on Social Distancing.

Sad people aren’t better than this.

There are some people who are not yet getting it. Those of you who do get it – reach out to those who don’t understand what we are up against. Be blunt if you have to.

Mayor Meed Ward is doing her best.

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Just how long is this COVID19 crisis going to last: the science suggest it will be many months - perhaps until the end of the year.

background 100By Staff

March 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The following was first published by the Globe and Mail earlier today under the headline: Deciding when to end social distancing won’t be easy.

It looks like the effectiveness with which people distance themselves is going to have a huge impact,” said Caroline Colijn, a professor at SFU and Canada 150 Research Chair in mathematics for evolution, infection and public health.

To examine what that means for Canada, Dr. Colijn tested a range of possible futures. Each begins in mid-March with a tiny fraction of the population infected by the virus.

Importantly, the scenarios show the high level of uncertainty that is built into models of this kind.

Based on a slight difference in how easily the virus can be transmitted from one person to the next – a number that is not yet known to high precision – the fraction of the total population that is infected during the peak of infections can vary by as much as 15 per cent.

Another unknown is whether the virus will become less active during the summer months. This is what happens with seasonal flu, another respiratory virus, but the same effect can’t be assumed for a virus to which the human population has never been exposed. However, even if there is a seasonal effect, it would likely only serve to delay the trajectory of the outbreak rather than significantly change it.

Where the scenarios can provide some clarity is in the comparisons between different options for how much social distancing should be applied and for what length of time. Those comparisons are captured here.

Why distancing matters
The basic strategy is simple. If everyone in the population is isolated from everyone else, the virus has nowhere to go and infections die out over the course of the incubation period of 14 days. In practice it doesn’t work that way. Families will isolate together and it could take a number of weeks for a virus to move within a family group. And there is still a need for at least some people to be out and about performing essential services, including caring for the sick.

THE POWER OF ISOLATION

Distance G&G 1

Three scenarios show the impact of different levels of social distancing on a population that is susceptible to COVID-19. In the final case the wave of infections stretches out to nearly a year but peak infections and total number of cases are both significantly reduced.

These three scenarios compare the trajectory of the pandemic when no measures are taken with what happens under medium and strong levels of social distancing. The measures are interconnected in complex ways. For example, school closings and work-from-home recommendations greatly reduce the spread of the virus between students and co-workers, but increase the potential for household and local community contact as people spend more time in their own neighbourhoods. Shutdowns of social venues, including restaurants and cafés, can reduce contacts still further.

With no measures in place, infections rise quickly and reach their peak by about June. At that point, up to one quarter of the population could infected at the same time. In a large Canadian city, this would amount to hundreds of thousands of cases, many of them severe.

In the medium scenario, schools and some businesses remain open but social contact is reduced by up to 40 per cent. Here the peak is lowered somewhat and shifted by a month or so. The bigger difference comes if social-distancing measures are strong, with most places where people gathered closed for the duration of the pandemic. Then the height of the peak could be cut by more than one half and it doesn’t arrive until the early fall, by which time health facilities may be better able to meet the flood of new cases.

All three scenarios end with a significant fraction of the population having been infected one year from now. With no distancing, that amounts to more than 70 per cent of the population before the virus burns out. With strong distancing, it’s more likely to be less than half the population.

GOING THE DISTANCE

Distance G&M 2

Here, the scenarios show what happens when strong social distancing measures are lifted after one month, three months and six months. The first two cases only delay the pandemic, the third significantly lowers its impact.

These scenarios show what happens when the strong distancing measures are lifted after one month, three months and six months. Whether distancing ends abruptly or gradually, there appears to be little benefit to ending the measures before the peak of the pandemic is over.

For example, ending after one month merely displaces the steep infection curve that occurs with no distancing by roughly the same amount of time. Ending after three months – about July 1 – spreads the peak out a bit more, but it still reaches 20 per cent of the population infected by the end of the summer. Only the six-month interval, which means lifting measures around Oct. 1, significantly breaks the shape of the infection curve. Here the range of uncertainty is greatest, with a few per cent to 15 per cent of the population infected late in the year.

PLANKING THE CURVE

Distance G&M 3

If even stronger levels of social isolation are enforced, this scenario suggests that the number of infections within the community can be suppressed during the initial weeks and held to less than 50 cases per million people at any one time. However, the curve might still rise gradually, propelled by a few cases, and there would remain a constant risk of infection re-entering from other locations. When enforcement stopped, infection rates would be expected to rise quickly.

On Thursday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said the country must not only flatten the infection curve but attempt to “plank” it. That means pursuing every possible measure to its fullest, including social distancing and rapidly identifying new cases and isolating anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.

In that scenario, the pandemic does not take off. While the cumulative number of cases may run into the thousands, it only amounts to a tiny fraction of the population. In the model, this means reducing all contacts outside of the household by more than 90 per cent. If it works, community infections could be kept relatively low.

This option would require even harsher measures than Canadians are already practising. And since the vast majority of the population still has no immunity to the virus, there remains a strong likelihood that the infection rate will soar as soon as measures are lifted. And even if the virus is extinguished within the community, there remains the risk of it being reintroduced from elsewhere.

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Mayor declares State of Emergency - asks malls to close, urges people to stay at home.

Newsflash 100By Pepper Parr

March 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward declares a State of Emergency for the city.

Asking the malls to close.

Notes there is still some complacency in our community around the need to self-isolate, to engage in social distancing

In her Statement the Mayor set out and explained her decision.

Mayor Meed WardWith the support of Council, senior City staff, our Emergency Control Group, and senior staff at Joseph Brant Hospital, I have decided it is time to declare a State of Emergency for Burlington.

The next few days are critical in our ongoing efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and I encourage our residents to continue taking every precaution in protecting yourselves.

Some of you may be asking why now, what has changed over the past few days?

While I thank our many residents who are heeding expert medical advice, we have noticed there is still some complacency in our community around the need to self-isolate, to engage in social distancing and to only go outside for essentials, such as food and medical needs or appointments.

With the end of March break, many people are returning home over the next few days and may need to restock their shelves. I urge these residents to self-isolate in your homes for 14 days and ask family, friends or neighbours to safely drop off supplies for you.

Earlier this week, there was the tragic death of a Milton man. On behalf of Council and the City of Burlington, our hearts go out to his family and we send them, and those who knew him, our deepest condolences. While it is still unknown exactly how he contracted COVID-19, our Halton Region Public Health Department has said there is evidence the virus is spreading through community contact. This increases the urgency around the need for social distancing and self-isolation.

We need to keep each other safe and healthy and must do everything we can to “flatten the curve.”

By declaring a State of Emergency, we want to send the strongest possible message to our community to stay home. Self-isolation means not visiting friends and family, not organizing playdates for your children or pick-up games in our parks and neighbourhoods, and not congregating on the street.

I am also asking all local malls and non-essential businesses to close for the time being.

Fido stand

Mayor wants the malls to close completely.

Our healthcare workers are here to support you all. We need to stay home not only for ourselves and loved ones, but for our medical professionals so that they can continue to be healthy enough to care for the members of our community who do get sick.

Declaring an emergency is a necessary step in the right direction to effectively slow down the spread of this pandemic throughout our city.

I continue to appeal to our residents to resist the urge to hoard. Clearing out your local grocery store of all its frozen and canned foods, and essential supplies is neither necessary nor helpful to others. Take what you need and remember that restocking will happen. I ask anyone who owns or manages an essential service to please consider setting per-person limits on essential items and to ask customers to engage in social distancing while they are shopping in your stores.

I know this has been a trying time for our community and we will likely continue facing these difficult times ahead, but we are all in this together and the only way we will get through this is together.

Related news story:

Science suggests the Mayor has good reason to declare a State of Eamergency

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Just who does get tested? The Medical Officer of Health has to be trusted - earning the trust is part of the understanding.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 20th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

The ward 2 resident got a call from a Public Health nurse:

We did receive a call from a Public Health Nurse in the past hour; my wife and I will be going for COVID-19 Testing. Someone from Joseph Brant hospital will be contacting us with an appointment time soon. 

You can almost feel the anxiety in the words a ward 2 resident sent us early this morning.

Give a listen:

virus imageWhy don’t we qualify for a COVID-19 test

Myself and my Family Returned from Epicentre Spain March 17th.

– We are self-isolating
– We have since developed symptoms of COVID-19
– We were in direct contact with Sick persons in Spain
– Yesterday we had a Tele-Appointment with our Family Doctor (Dr. Adam Grezslo) He prescribed us ‘Puffers’ for our breathing conditions and advised we get tested.

We informed the Doctor we called 311 who informed us we don’t qualify as they are concentrating on Health Care workers. He was amazed by this change of strategy.

I am reaching out to you our representatives at the City, Regional, Provincial and Federal Levels – If the persons you represent, residents such as me and my family with all of the COVID-19 red flags aren’t being tested – who is?

We would really like to follow our Doctors advice and get tested. I’m hoping you can help get us through the red tape.

If high risk families like us are not being tested: You have no idea if the number of cases you are dealing with in Halton. The numbers we are tracking on the news are irrelevant.

Gary Carr

Gary Carr: a resident put the ball in his court – what will he do with it?

Minutes after receiving the email from the ward 2 resident we were copied on an email from Regional Chair Gary Carr who is passing the matter along to his staff, which includes the Medical Officer of Health and that will probably get the resident the test he wants.

The concern is that Gary Carr can’t stick handle every concern.

Sticky.

Get Gaz yellow

 

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Can I trust you?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 20th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A reader wrote is yesterday. He is well known, respected, held a very senior position before he retired.

He is not a nut case prone to extremes.

He wrote saying the following.

ItalyI have been in constant contact with my cousin in Northern Italy since Feb 23.

At that time and in her words, they were “panicking”. The covid19 virus has a life of its own. I do not believe for a minute what is coming out of China. There is no way you have a curve such as the one attached, that suddenly goes to zero. I will be tracking the situation here in Canada and hope our efforts will flatten the curve (fingers crossed).

We are self-isolating, (a) as we don’t want to contract the virus and (b) we would not want to pass it on if we have Covid19.

Get Gaz yellowWhen our self-isolating time is up in 12 days, we will not re-integrate as we feel we will be free but have little confidence that our neighbors are not carrying.

That last sentence is unfortunate – we are going to have to trust each other to get through this.

We have attached a link that gives you a world wide picture.

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How is the virus affecting people? Who is really at risk and what they can do.

backgrounder 100By Staff

March 20th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There are a number of very authoritative sources on just what the COVID-19 virus does to people.

guardian logoThe Guardian newspaper, one of the best in the world has done a feature article on what happens to people who are infected.

How is the virus affecting people?

Guardian Australia spoke with Prof John Wilson, president-elect of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and a respiratory physician.

He says almost all serious consequences of Covid-19 feature pneumonia.

Wilson says people who catch Covid-19 can be placed into four broad categories.

The least serious are those people who are “sub-clinical” and who have the virus but have no symptoms.

Next are those who get an infection in the upper respiratory tract, which, Wilson says, “means a person has a fever and a cough and maybe milder symptoms like headache or conjunctivitis”.

He says: “Those people with minor symptoms are still able to transmit the virus but may not be aware of it.”

The largest group of those who would be positive for Covid-19, and the people most likely to present to hospitals and surgeries, are those who develop the same flu-like symptoms that would usually keep them off work.

A fourth group, Wilson says, will develop severe illness that features pneumonia.

lung images and doctor

A doctor looking at x-ray images of a patient’s lungs.

He says: “In Wuhan, it worked out that from those who had tested positive and had sought medical help, roughly 6% had a severe illness.”

The WHO says the elderly and people with underlying problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

How does the pneumonia develop?

respitory tractWhen people with Covid-19 develop a cough and fever, Wilson says this is a result of the infection reaching the respiratory tree – the air passages that conduct air between the lungs and the outside.

He says: “The lining of the respiratory tree becomes injured, causing inflammation. This in turn irritates the nerves in the lining of the airway. Just a speck of dust can stimulate a cough.

“But if this gets worse, it goes past just the lining of the airway and goes to the gas exchange units, which are at the end of the air passages.

“If they become infected they respond by pouring out inflammatory material into the air sacs that are at the bottom of our lungs.”

If the air sacs then become inflamed, Wilson says this causes an “outpouring of inflammatory material [fluid and inflammatory cells] into the lungs and we end up with pneumonia.”

He says lungs that become filled with inflammatory material are unable to get enough oxygen to the bloodstream, reducing the body’s ability to take on oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.

“That’s the usual cause of death with severe pneumonia,” he says.

How can the pneumonia be treated?

pneumonia

Points at which fluid builds up in the respiratory tract.

Prof Christine Jenkins, chair of Lung Foundation Australia and a leading respiratory physician, told Guardian Australia: “Unfortunately, so far we don’t have anything that can stop people getting Covid-19 pneumonia.

“People are already trialing all sorts of medications and we’re hopeful that we might discover that there are various combinations of viral and anti-viral medications that could be effective. At the moment there isn’t any established treatment apart from supportive treatment, which is what we give people in intensive care.

“We ventilate them and maintain high oxygen levels until their lungs are able to function in a normal way again as they recover.”

Wilson says patients with viral pneumonia are also at risk of developing secondary infections, so they would also be treated with anti-viral medication and antibiotics.

“In some situations that isn’t enough,” he says of the current outbreak. “The pneumonia went unabated and the patients did not survive.”

Is Covid-19 pneumonia different?

Jenkins says Covid-19 pneumonia is different from the most common cases that people are admitted to hospitals for.

“Most types of pneumonia that we know of and that we admit people to hospital for are bacterial and they respond to an antibiotic.

Wilson says there is evidence that pneumonia caused by Covid-19 may be particularly severe. Wilson says cases of coronavirus pneumonia tend to affect all of the lungs, instead of just small parts.

He says: “Once we have an infection in the lung and, if it involves the air sacs, then the body’s response is first to try and destroy [the virus] and limit its replication.”But Wilson says this “first responder mechanism” can be impaired in some groups, including people with underlying heart and lung conditions, diabetes and the elderly.

Transit - seniors with Gould

A group of seniors taking part in a Bfast transit meeting – these are the people most at risk. They will not be able to meet like this until the COVID-19 pandemic is over

Jenkins says that, generally, people aged 65 and over are at risk of getting pneumonia, as well as people with medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer or a chronic disease affecting the lungs, heart, kidney or liver, smokers, Indigenous Australians, and infants aged 12 months and under.

“Age is the major predictor of risk of death from pneumonia. Pneumonia is always serious for an older person and in fact it used to be one of the main causes of death in the elderly. Now we have very good treatments for pneumonia.

“It’s important to remember that no matter how healthy and active you are, your risk for getting pneumonia increases with age. This is because our immune system naturally weakens with age, making it harder for our bodies to fight off infections and diseases.”

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Region answers Gazette questions - MoH said: 'We only have one shot at this' - stay home.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 19th, 2020 6:40 pm

BURLINGTON, ON

This is a very dynamic and fluid situation.  Information does change.  We are now adding a time stamp to the date published. The most recent news stories are at the top of the list.

Had we been able to get to the media event the Regional government held this afternoon the following are the questions we would have asked along with the answers the Regional Communications advisers provided:

Question 1

Is the process for anyone concerned about their COVID-19 health to Self Assess, then if the assessment suggests there might be a problem – people should people call 911?

Halton Region Public Health and health care partners continue to focus on those most at risk of COVID-19. Our current priority is to hear from high-risk groups only:

o health care providers who are seeking or reporting information;

o those living or working in a health-care setting or institution and experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; or

o those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Not everyone requires testing. Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home. Get rest, drink fluids, eat well and stay home. You do not need to contact Public Health.
If you are high-risk please call 311 to start the assessment process. Residents must have an appointment to attend an Assessment Centre. 

At high risk are the following:

health care providers who are seeking or reporting information;

those living or working in a health-care setting or institution and experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; or

those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

If you have severe symptoms, please call 9-1-1 immediately. 

Severe symptoms may include:

Shortness of breath when walking, exercising or at rest which is unusual for the patient.

Chest pain, severe fatigue, drowsiness, unstable vital signs

Question 2
Is there just the one testing location for the Region at this point?
What would have to happen for the Region to set up a second testing point.

• We have multiple assessment centres in Halton.
• If you are high-risk please call 311 to start the assessment process. Residents must have an appointment to attend an Assessment Centre.

Question 3
BC has a self assessment app – Is the Region or the province creating a similar app?

• The Province launched a self-assessment tool for COVID-19. It can be accessed by visiting https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-self-assessment.

Question 4
Is COVID-19 now being passed from person to person in the community?

• We have reason to believe that there is local transmission now. Public Health is in the early stages of collecting information. What we know is this case (the Milton death) did not travel outside of Canada recently nor was he in close contact with a confirmed case.

Get Gaz yellow

 

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Regional health officials hold media event - MoH pleads with public to follow the rules

News 100 redBy Staff

March 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Correction. There were two COVID19 deaths in Ontario; one of which was in Milton

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health, Halton Region and Dr. Neil Rau, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Halton Healthcare met with media at 1:30 this afternoon to expand on the second COVID-19 related death in Ontario.”

Dr Meghani at news conference Hamilton

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health, Halton Region

They took questions from the media – the questions the Gazette submitted were not given to the MoH.

When Dr. Hamidah Meghani was appointed as Medical Officer of Health she said it was the job of a life time.  She may not be saying that today. These are what can only be described as very difficult circumstances under which Dr Meghani does her best.

When she spoke this morning she was at the podium all by herself for the most part – not a politician in sight.

She was supported by Dr. Neil Rau, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Halton and a communications staff person who did the introductions.

Meghani - Mar 19th

Dr.Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health, Halton Region, standing at the podium by herself – not a politician in sight.

Dr. Meghani announced that Halton Region Public Health had been notified of a death related to COVID-19. The individual, a man in his 50s, is the second COVID-19 related death in Ontario.”

The man had an underlying health condition and was being treated first at the Milton District  Hospital and then transferred to the Oakville hospital where he died shortly after arriving.

“This is the tragic proof that we need to work together as a community to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and taking action to protect yourself and those around you,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “This is a larger community issue and I know that everyone joins me in extending their deepest condolences to his family at this time.”

“Halton Healthcare extends our sincere condolences to the family and our thoughts are with them at this time,” said Dr. Neil Rau, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Halton Healthcare. “We want to reassure our communities that all of our infection, prevention and control policies and procedures were followed during this patient’s stay, consistent with the clinical presentation.”

virus imageDr.Meghani said “we have one shot” at this and later added that it was her belief this most recent death was the result of contact with someone in the community. The deceased had not traveled outside the country and was not known to have interacted with anyone who was self isolating.  The virus is now amongst us.

Dr.Meghani explained that the necessary follow up investigation work is being done to learn who the deceased met with in the last couple of weeks. “These investigations take time” she said.

Dr. Meghani said this is not the time for dinner parties or for play dates for children.  The time to hunker down and stay at home is now.

Halton Region Public Health urges residents to take every precaution to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect the health of the community, especially those most at risk. The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 is to practice social distancing and:

• stay home when ill;
• cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve;
• wash hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand rub;
• clean and disinfect objects and surfaces;
• do your best to keep at least two metres away from others; and
• if you are able, avoid all non-essential activity recommended and declared by the province.

social distance 6 omn steps

Keep a six foot distance between others whenever you can.

Halton Region Public Health continues to focus on those most at risk of COVID-19. Our current priority is to hear from these groups only:

• health care providers seeking or reporting information;
• those living or working in a healthcare setting or institution and experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; or
• those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

If you have severe symptoms, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

Residents are encouraged to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible sources of information. To get the latest information on cases in Ontario and to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19, please visit ontario.ca/coronavirus.

For more information on COVID-19 including confirmed cases in Halton, symptoms, risks and when to contact Halton Region Public Health, please visit halton.ca/COVID19.

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Vicious email that preys on frightened people - read all your email very carefully.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During times of social stress there are those out there who will look for a way to prey on the public.

The following is a vicious example of just how low someone will go to put their interests ahead of yours.

Viscious email

The sender of the email wants you to click on the link for the “requisition” and begin stealing your identity.

If you have COVID-19 concerns – here is the link you want.

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