virus thrives on complacency
As workplaces, services and public locations prepare to accept more people, the province is recommending that individuals wear a face covering where physical distancing is not possible. The province has released specific recommendations on how to choose, wear and care for appropriate face coverings used in public where physical distancing is not possible.
“I support the latest provincial direction,” said Huron Perth Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen. “It is also incredibly important that we all continue to wash our hands often, stay at home if we feel ill, and practise physical distancing by staying at least two metres apart from anyone outside our household.”
Although more than two weeks had passed in Huron and Perth without a new case of COVID-19, HPPH has learned that a resident of Maitland Manor long-term care home in Goderich has tested positive. The resident was tested after showing symptoms of the virus. The resident is in stable condition and contact tracing is ongoing.
This case is a reminder that despite the downward trend in the number of cases, the virus is still circulating in our communities and people cannot become complacent. Everyone still needs to maintain physical distancing, wash hands frequently and stay home when sick.
With the warmer weather upon us and outdoor recreation areas opening up, HPPH has received many inquiries around gatherings. Here is what you need to know:
• Outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks and recreational areas, are now permitted to be open. But playgrounds, fitness equipment, swimming pools, splash pads are still closed.
• Remember, you cannot gather in groups of more than five people, unless they are all from the same household. It’s still important that people not share food and drinks with people who are outside of their household and not invite new people into their household.
• When people are outside they need to maintain a 2 M (6 ft.) distance from people who are not in their household.
• While the order restricting gatherings of more than five people will remain in place until May 29, it is under review and the province is examining how to expand that number. An announcement is expected soon.
“As places start to re-open, I ask that everyone be patient and considerate as businesses, services and public locations put measures in place to keep everyone safe,” added Dr. Klassen.
(Press release dated May 22.)
COVID-19 Testing and Guidance Updates for Huron and Perth
The government of Ontario released new testing guidelines for COVID-19 on Sunday, May 24. Testing is now available in Huron Perth for the following populations:
1. All people with at least one symptom of COVID-19, even for mild symptoms.
2. People who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case.
3. People who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including essential workers (e.g., health care workers, grocery store employees, food processing plants).
“Anyone who is showing a COVID-19 symptom, no matter how mild, and anyone who is concerned they have been exposed to COVID-19 will be able to have a test done,” said Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical officer of Health for Huron Perth.
Huron Perth residents are encouraged to use the province’s online assessment at www.ontario.ca/coronavirus and if indicated, call your doctor to be assessed and sent for testing. If you do not have a family doctor, you can call Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) at 1-888-221-2133 Ext. 3267.
Testing is available every day of the week at testing collection sites across Huron-Perth, by appointment.
“It’s important that residents make an appointment to be tested so that the staff at the testing centre can be prepared for your visit and to also reduce potential wait times,” said Dr. Klassen.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are sent for testing, you will be told to isolate at home. Any close contacts who were in contact with you in the 48 hours before your symptoms started will also be told to isolate and to contact HPPH if they develop any symptoms. If you are not sick, but you are being tested as a close contact of a confirmed case, you will be directed to self-isolate for 14 days to ensure you do not develop symptoms.
If you are not sick, and are being tested for reasons other than being a close contact of a confirmed case, self-monitor for symptoms. Avoid public spaces and places where you cannot easily separate yourself from others if you become ill. If you develop symptoms, self-isolate immediately and contact your public health unit and your health care provider.
Over the next couple of weeks, HPPH will help facilitate testing of several essential worker groups and congregate settings, including: retirement homes, group homes, healthcare workers, fire fighters, police, and some retail workers.
HPPH received confirmation of a case of COVID-19 over the weekend in a male who resides in North Perth, bringing the cumulative total to 51 confirmed cases; two currently active cases. The man was symptomatic and was tested on May 21; he is recovering and self-isolating at home. HPPH is conducting the contact tracing and informing anyone who may be at risk of exposure about isolating, testing, and protecting others.
“This case in a community member shows that the virus is still circulating and it’s important that we do not become complacent,” said Dr. Klassen.
The province of Ontario recently released specific recommendations for the public on how to choose, wear and care for appropriate face coverings.
“We recommend that people wear a face covering when physical distancing may be a challenge or not possible, such as on public transit or in a small store,” said Dr. Klassen.
For more details about face mask usage, visit: www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-stop-spread.
“While wearing masks may help, to truly stop the spread of the virus in our community, everyone must continue to maintain physical distancing, wash your hands frequently and stay home if you are sick,” advised Dr. Klassen.
(Press release dated May 26.)
Paramedic services recognized this week for frontline work
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the important role Paramedic Services play in
keeping communities across Ontario safe and healthy has never been more apparent. Paramedic Services Week 2020, which takes place from now unitl May 30, is an opportunity to recognize the tireless work and dedication of paramedics. This year’s theme is “Pandemic: Paramedics on the Front Line”.
Paramedics are like no other healthcare professional. They are at the scene in emergencies when patients are their most vulnerable. They also work in communities with healthcare teams to keep people at home and out of the hospital emergency room through many innovative and dynamic community paramedic programs. These services have been even more critical during the pandemic.
“As we celebrate Paramedic Services Week 2020 in Ontario our activities will be different than other years,” stated Chief Neal Roberts, president of the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs (OAPC). “COVID-19 stay at home directives and social distancing will not allow for open houses at paramedic stations, public mall displays and
interactive public events. However, the role and contribution of paramedics on the front lines during COVID-19 has gained significant recognition during these difficult times. The respect and gratitude for paramedics has never been higher.”
Join us this week to thank and raise awareness of the enormous contribution of highly skilled Paramedic Services’ staff to maintain safe and healthy communities.
For more details of how Ontario’s paramedics are responding during COVID-19, visit www.oapc.ca.
Ausable Bayfield trails and conservation areas now open
Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) announced on May 22 that trails and conservation areas owned and/or managed by ABCA were reopened to limited use. Playgrounds, play structures and privies in conservation areas remain closed and Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre is also closed until further notice. Otherwise, ABCA trails and conservation lands are open for public use contingent on following public health direction.
ABCA reminds people they need to practise all applicable public health guidelines including social physical distancing of at least 2 M (6 ft). The conservation authority is adding signs to reinforce the need for social physical distancing and it is asking people to not use the trails, conservation areas, or other conservation lands if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.
The reopening includes all conservation areas: Clinton, Bannockburn, Zurich, Morrison Dam, Crediton, Lucan, Parkhill, Rock Glen, and Ausable River Cut. Other properties include: Mystery Falls, L-Lake, Sadler Tract, and Linfield. The reopening also includes the MacNaughton-Morrison Section of the South Huron Trail. To maintain physical distancing, trail users are asked to move in a counter-clockwise direction with the increasing numbers on the distance markers.
ABCA began Phase 1 of property reopenings on May 19, with opening of conservation forests and management areas where there are no trails, parking lots, or other shared amenities.
The May 22 reopening of properties also extended to Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy properties: Bayfield River Flats Nature Area; Mayhew Tract; and Heaman Tract.
ABCA continues to consult with municipalities and community partners in reopening of facilities. Staff have been doing risk management inspections at the conservation areas to ensure they are safe for reopening. The ABCA Board of Directors approved the property reopenings at the May 21 Board of Directors meeting.
“We thank everyone for the patience they have shown as we prepared for the appropriate time to reopen these wonderful locations for safe nature enjoyment,” said Doug Cook, chair of the ABCA Board of Directors.
The past few weeks have really underlined how much local residents cherish local trails and conservation areas, according to the Chair.
“We are glad to be in a stage where we can begin to reopen,” Cook said. “We ask people to use these areas properly to keep themselves, their families, their neighbors, and their community safe.”
The conservation authority will monitor trail and conservation area use and will make decisions affecting the areas based on updated information from the Province of Ontario, police and public health authorities, as well as local use patterns.
For updates on trails, conservation areas, conservation lands, and ABCA service adaptations visit the abca.ca website and the Notices of Service Disruptions web page at this link: www.abca.ca/news/disruptions/
ABCA is asking visitors to select the property closest to them in order to reduce crowding and to limit travel. Trail and conservation users are also encouraged to keep their visits as short as possible. As washrooms and privies are not available, trail and conservation area users are asked to plan their visit accordingly and to bring their own hand sanitizer as there are no hand washing facilities available.
People can Hike for Hopice wherever they happen to be
Hike for Hospice is moving to where ever their participants happen to be. The hike will be held “virtually” on June 14.
“Traditionally Huron Hospice has held hikes on Huron County trails, including, beautiful Bayfield Trails, and that was our original plan for this year. However, COVID19 made it impossible to host large gatherings. We decided that we would hold our hike “virtually” so that people can walk safely in their communities and still help Huron Hospice. Hopefully, we will be able to hike the trails and beaches safely soon but while we wait patiently for trails to reopen, Huron Hospice needs your support,” said Christopher Walker, a hospice volunteer.
The hike is one of Huron Hospice’s most significant fundraising events. Organiers hope to raise $40,000 this year. The funds raised stay in Huron County and are used to fund the essential, compassionate care that Hospice staff and volunteers provide. There are no costs for Hospice services.
“Events like the hike do make great things possible here at home. Now more than ever, we need Huron County residents to join us. You can hike safely on the streets of your home town. You can walk around your yard. You can ride your bike. You can even hike the distance from Bayfield to Varna on your treadmill in the basement,” Walker said. “I am walking in Bayfield. I am dedicating the walk to the memory of my Father, who so loved living in Bayfield. While I would like to walk down to the harbor, I am not thrilled with the return trip. It is, after all, aptly named Long Hill Road. I am staying on the flat streets this year.”
Organizers are asking that families hike for Huron Hospice or raise money any way they can. Families could ask parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or friends to pledge their support by email or over the phone.
“They could even invite people to hike on the same day in their community and help raise funds for Huron Hospice. All anyone needs to do is send the link to their contacts and ask for their help,” said Walker.
To learn more, visit www.huronhospice.ca. To make a pledge or to create a fundraising team visit:www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/huron-hospice-volunteer-service/p2p/Hike2020
“Think of it this way; you may not need us today or even tomorrow. However, someday a family member or a friend might. It is essential that we are here in Huron County to provide these vital services. Hiking for Huron Hospice is a fun family activity that helps ensure that important palliative services are available close to home when we need them,” concluded Walker.
Create a virtual team for walk for alzheimer's huron county
People can a make a difference for families living with dementia.
This year, the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s is moving online, culminating in a live streaming national event on Sunday, May 31 that will connect Canadians and Alzheimer Societies from across the country. Participants can photograph or video themselves throughout May and upload it to social media by following step-by-step instructions at walkforalzheimers.ca and using the hashtag #IGWalkforAlz.
For over 20 years, the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s has brought hundreds of people together to fundraise and to show support for families living with dementia. The pandemic has hit families living with dementia hard. As the lockdown continues, the challenges they face continue to grow. These families are living with increasing stress and complications brought on by self-isolation, lack of in-person connection, and the absence of respite opportunities.
Like the walk, the Alzheimer Society, has transformed as well, offering a wide range of online programming and support. Programs like one to one counseling via phone, Zoom support groups, educational webinars, virtual social recreation, and a weekly connections newsletter that provides caregiver tips, exercises, engaging activities, and virtual programs to help make the days at home a little more manageable. Social recreation kits with games, trivia, and activites, iPods personalized to individual musical interests, and walking poles are all being provided to clients through porch drop offs.
Funds are urgently needed to assist those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, a disease that isolates more than half a million Canadians and has a dramatic impact on their families and loved ones. People are urged to take up the fight by fundraising and participating in the annual IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s.
"We're calling on you to show your support by walking online," said Cathy Ritsema, Executive director, Alzheimer Society of Huron County. "Each year, 25,000 more Canadians hear, 'You have dementia.' It's critical that we all get behind this cause and raise as much as possible so the Alzheimer Society can continue to help those affected overcome the challenges of dementia and live to their fullest."
Fundraisers will unite under the rallying cry “The Time Is Right. Join. Walk. Help.”
By 2031, the number of Canadians with dementia will increase by nearly 70 per cent and a cure has not yet been found. More funds are required to meet the growing demand for life-changing programs and services, including dementia education, programs for people with dementia and respite for caregivers.
“In these unprecedented times, we are extremely proud to continue our support of the
Alzheimer Society and their work to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for dementia,” said Jeff Carney, president and CEO, IG Wealth Management. “Our employees and Consultants have a long history and real passion for supporting the communities where we live and work.
Although we had to modify the walk this year based on the impact of COVID-19 and physical distancing, we are still optimistic that the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s will be a huge success.”
The IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s is the Alzheimer Society’s biggest, nationwide fundraising event of the year. In 2019, over 300 participants raised more than $65,000 in Huron County to provide services to the community affected by dementia – where they live.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia strike every community and consume entire families. No one should have to face this disease alone. People can help by registering and fundraising for an IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s in Huron County at walkforalzheimers.ca. They can choose Clinton, Exeter, Goderich, Grand Bend or Wingham. Participants can sign up individually or make an even bigger impact by joining or creating a virtual team with family, friends, neighbors or co-workers.
Anyone who would like more information or would like assistance with registering, is asked to please call 519 482-1482.
The Huron Perth Public Health website is updated daily with confirmed case counts received within the last 24 hours.
“Our online case reporting is not a real-time tool but is meant to keep the community informed on trends we are seeing,” explains Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen.
For the latest statistics on COVID-19 cases in Huron and Perth Counties please visit: www.hpph.ca/en/health-matters/covid-19-in-huron-and-perth.aspx
covid-19 assessment centre
On May 19, the Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre (GBACHC) opened a COVID-19 Assessment Centre with a drive-up testing site. The testing site will be open Monday to Friday from 1:30-4 p.m., excluding statutory holidays. People may only attend the Assessment Centre with a referral from a primary care practitioner (PCP) and have an appointment booked through the GBACHC. No walk-in appointments will be accepted.
People who believe they have COVID-19 are required to contact their own PCP to be virtually assessed and to determine if they qualify for testing. If they do not have a PCP, they may book a virtual assessment appointment with a GBACHC PCP.
The GBACHC COVID-19 Assessment Centre will adhere to the testing guideline criteria established by the Ontario Ministry of Health and endorsed by Huron Perth Public Health. These criteria prioritize certain populations based on risk.
To review the Testing Site Process please visit: gbachc.ca/blog/2020/05/14/gbachc-to-open-a-covid-19-assessment-centre/.
It only takes a few minutes, and a few words, to make a difference in the life of an isolated senior.
One Care Home and Community Support Services has launched a letter writing campaign with the goal of spreading positive messages to seniors who are isolated and alone at home during COVID-19.
“During this time, we know that many of our seniors who receive Meals on Wheels are isolated from their loved ones and have limited connections to others in their communities. We are asking people from the community to write messages to bring some joy to their lives,” said Cindy Gravelle Holbrook, Nutrition supervisor for One Care.
The letters will be included in the daily Meals on Wheels deliveries. Each week One Care delivers more than 900 hot and frozen meals to people throughout Huron County and Stratford, and connects with more than 250 isolated seniors.
The Meals on Wheels program has seen a 35 per cent increase since the beginning of the pandemic and it is helping to reduce the worry of eating well, both for caregivers and clients. To meet the growing demand One Care has received provincial government funding through the Ontario Community Support Association to meet the increasing needs in the community.
“We know that seniors need good food support, and we also know that they are alone, and often lonely. By sending out letters we would like to help reduce the social isolation concerns and spread a little joy with our meals. At Easter our staff members’ children made cards for the clients and we received such wonderful feedback that we wanted to find a way to continue to brighten our clients’ day.
“We are asking people from the community, both children and adults, to write positive messages that we can send out with our Meals on Wheels deliveries. This would be a great project for children and could include pictures of animals or scenery (no faces) and happy messages,” Gravelle Holbrook noted.
It only takes a few minutes to write a letter and to send it to One Care. If they are handwritten the letters should be printed and easy to read. If they are typed, use the font Arial (if possible) at 14 point. The letters should be positive and uplifting, only include first names in the letter and do not include a return address. The agency plans to feature some of the letters on social media to continue spreading the positive messages. Letters can be emailed to One Care at email@example.com
“Everyone loves getting a letter and this is another way that we can help our seniors. It’s also a great activity for a family, or as a way to give back to community during this time,” said Gravelle Holbrook.
One Care’s Meals on Wheels program provides essential services to people in the community. Meals are delivered from Monday to Friday by screened volunteers and through a contactless delivery service. The service offers a freshly made hot meal, or frozen meal package, and the letters will be an extra treat for the seniors who receive them. For more information and to register for Meals on Wheels call 1-844-482-7800 or visit www.onecaresupport.ca.
Community Support Fund
United Way Perth-Huron is accepting funding applications for the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF). The fund provides financial support to charities and other qualified donees adapting their frontline services to support vulnerable Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ECSF was announced by the Government of Canada and is administered in collaboration with United Way Centraide Canada, Community Foundations of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.
United Way Perth-Huron is proud to support the important investment of approximately $407,232.00 into local communities.
“Canadian charities and not for profits are always there to help you, in your time of need”, stated The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, “But the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing real challenges to these important organizations. With today’s announcement, the Government of Canada will be there for them so they can continue to be there for Canadians.”
“The Emergency Community Support Fund is much-needed and welcome support for those local organizations working tirelessly during the COVID-19 crisis to reach the most vulnerable in our communities”, said John Nater, MP for Perth-Wellington. “Our rural communities face unique challenges when it comes to the delivery of essential goods and services. This funding will allow the United Way Perth-Huron to ensure the most critical needs in our region are being met”.
“United Way Perth-Huron is pleased to support this vital investment by the Government of Canada in critical services for vulnerable people in our community”, said UWPH Executive Director Ryan Erb. “We have been closely in touch with local organizations throughout the last nine weeks, and I know these funds will be used well”.
To apply, organizations should visit the UWPH website at perthhuron.unitedway.ca. Any questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 519 271-7730.
ABCA onliNE learning
Students may be out of the classroom at the moment but there are educational activities online that can help to keep learning going. These are new and creative ways to connect to the natural world including some activities that can be done indoors.
To help keep children and youth engaged and learning while at home, the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) has compiled online science lesson plans and links to other educational resources.
The ABCA website at abca.ca is full of scientific, local and up-to-date information on soil, water, and habitat for living things in the Ausable Bayfield watershed. The Teachers’ Resources-Lesson Plans web page has new links to ideas and activities to help learning about nature at home. There are activities and lesson plans that help to meet Ontario Curriculum expectations for every grade from Grade One through 12.
The link to teaching and learning resources is at: www.abca.ca/education/lessonplans/
Conservation educators at ABCA are not currently delivering student field trips or in-school programs. This is part of the nation-wide response to COVID-19 as school buildings and child care facilities are closed during the current pandemic.
For Notices of Service Disruptions visit this link: www.abca.ca/news/disruptions/
URGENT NEEDS FUND
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected vulnerable individuals and families across Perth and Huron Counties. A stark reminder of how profound the effects are is reflected in the initial response to United Way Perth-Huron (UWPH) opening its COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund directly to individuals through a partnership with Social Services in Perth and Huron. In the first four days of applications beginning May 4, the fund received so many requests UWPH is now looking to raise more money to meet demand.
“Whether it’s people looking for help paying for groceries, diapers or medication the early response has been substantial,” said UWPH Executive Director Ryan Erb. “We’re glad people know about the program and are reaching out for support, but it also points to the seriousness of the situation many find themselves in. We’re asking those who can to please give or give again to the COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund.”
The COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund assists organizations helping individuals and families in need. Organizations apply to UWPH and a volunteer committee reviews each application quickly so funds are distributed as soon as possible.
For applications go to perthhuron.unitedway.ca/urgent-needs-fund-apply-for-funds/. To donate to UWPH’s COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund, go to give.unitedway.ca/donate/WSTRAT-UWPH or call the United Way offices at 519 271-7730 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and noon and 1-5 p.m.
Coping through Covid-19
Bayfield resident, Eugene Dufour is a clinically trained Individual, Marital and Family Therapist, Bereavement Specialist, Compassion Fatigue Educator and Therapist and a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Facilitator. He presently works as a Psychosocial Spiritual Care Clinician with the Huron Perth Palliative Care Outreach Team.
Dufour was approached by several organizations to provide them with “Reflections” to offer coping techniques through the COVID-19 crisis. He was kind enough to submit these to the Bayfield Breeze and we hope to share them here as space allows.
This week we include one that offers some background into Trauma Exposure Response (TER).
Take a Risk and Talk to Someone that is Suffering from Emotional Fatigue
We have been aware of COVID-19 for the past six months and the emergency order to shut down and socially isolate for ten weeks. There is a constant fear of infection. If we have a loved one die, family members are robbed of being present for the death. Family and friends did not have the assistance of participating in funerals, celebrations of life and other grieving rituals. Healthcare providers have continuously been at the front line of suffering and exposure from this virus.
Healthcare providers, their family members, and the worried, could be showing the signs of the Trauma Exposure Response (TER): feeling helpless and hopeless, a sense that one can never do enough, chronic exhaustion, guilt, anger, feeling numb, fear, and the inability to feel compassion.
It is crucial to be proactive and get support if we are experiencing any of these signs of TER. Research shows that usually it is our co-workers that become aware if we are struggling.
Two simple but difficult requests:
A. Take a risk and talk to a co-worker or a family member that is struggling with this type of emotional fatigue.
B. Listen and act if a co-worker or family member expresses concern about your emotional fatigue.
“The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.” - Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom, 1996