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'Get the vax or get the virus' health unit says

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Grey-Bruce’s recent high COVID case count is due to unvaccinated people not following public health advice while involved in too many activities, the Grey Bruce Health Unit announced Sunday.

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The health unit declared an outbreak after finding five people so far who attended field party July 3 near Chesley. All attending are considered high-risk contacts and should isolate now and get tested immediately. About 25 people attended, all older teenagers and young adults.

Dr. Ian Arra, the medical officer of health, said in a news release announcing the outbreak that people who don’t isolate face enforcement under a class order issued in April.

“For the safety of the community,” anyone with COVID symptoms should avoid attending events or family/social gatherings indoors. Avoid outdoor gatherings too if you or anyone in your household has symptoms are awaiting testing or you suspect you’ve been exposed to or in contact with someone with COVID-19.

Reached Sunday, Arra said he still thinks Grey-Bruce is ready to move with the rest of the province to Step 3 Friday of the province’s reopening plan, “at this point, yes.”

Private gatherings including birthday parties, which Arra said some parents let their sick kids attend, are one problem driving the virus spread locally. Saturday Arra said he knew of two or three such gatherings recently.

The other main infection driver now is people who use drugs, regardless of if they’re homeless. Infection among transient people drove the initial surge of Grey-Bruce cases in early June.

It’s the contact associated with purchasing drugs and using them with others that’s been spreading COVID recently, Arra said in a second news release issued Sunday, which said people should “Get the vax or get the virus.”

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“We are asking the public to help us achieve the target of getting the majority of people in Grey Bruce fully vaccinated by the end of July. This would significantly reduce the threat from COVID-19. It is our only way out to recover from this pandemic.”

“With the surge of Delta cases, there is nothing more important for every one of us in Grey-Bruce this month than to ensure we get the two doses of vaccine as soon as possible,” Arra said in the release. “Investing 30 minutes before the end of July to get the vaccine is our duty to protect ourselves, our families, and our community.”

Standard pandemic protocols remain important to follow, including hand-washing, mask-wearing and keeping two metres from others, Arra said. It takes two weeks after the second required COVID shot for people to have full protection.

On Friday, gathering limits will expand to 100 people outdoors and 25 indoors. Indoor dining establishments, including buffets, retail and personal-care settings, will have no capacity limits as long as customers can physically distance.

Gyms and recreational facilities will be able to reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Movie theatres, museums, casinos and other amenities can open at 50 per cent capacity indoors. Concerts and sports facilities can invite up 50 per cent capacity up to 1,000 indoors for an event.

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Grey-Bruce added 22 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Grey Bruce Health Unit reported Sunday. New cases are those counted in the 24-hour period to midnight Saturday.

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There were seven at Saugeen First Nation, six in Owen Sound, two in Kincardine, two in Meaford and one each in Brockton, Georgian Bluffs, Hanover, Saugeen Shores, and South Bruce Peninsula.

Total cases reported since the start of the pandemic number 1,847 and currently 196 of them are active. Another 361 people are considered active, high-risk contacts.

So far 527 cases of the more contagious COVID variants have been reported in Grey-Bruce, 11 of which are active.

Now 11 local people are hospitalized in Grey-Bruce due to COVID and three more have been transferred to hospitals outside of Grey-Bruce. Ten Grey-Bruce people have died of COVID-19.

In the past seven days, 24,033 doses of COVID vaccine were administered. Total COVID shots given to date in Grey-Bruce: 191,018.

Now 73.3 per cent of those eligible for a shot (ages 12 and up) have received at least one dose. There are 55.6 of them who have received the second required dose and are fully vaccinated.

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Saugeen First Nation issued an online plea for its members or any one else who is 15 days past their second shot to assist with overnight staffing at the James Mason Recreation Centre, which an earlier posting said was for transient and special-needs populations with COVID-19 who need medical supervision while in isolation.

The notice posted Saturday to the band’s website says pay is $30 per hour, the hours will be from 9 p.m. to 10 a.m. The notice said help was needed Saturday night and again tonight.

Anyone interested is to call Trish Meekins at 519-370-8858.

Health unit figures Sunday showed there are 55 active cases and 55 resolved cases at Saugeen — the most active cases of any community in Grey-Bruce.

Dr. Ian Arra said all seven new cases reported by the health unit Sunday were high-risk contacts who had been isolating. They converted to cases while in isolation “with no risk to the rest of the community. A good outcome of effective case and contact management.”

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