Three new cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Grey Bruce Health Unit Friday, in Owen Sound, Huron-Kinloss and Kincardine.
The health unit also declared a new outbreak at Lee Manor in Owen Sound after a single staff member tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, the health unit is working with the Bluewater District School Board to address two probable cases of COVID-19 associated with Port Elgin-Saugeen Central School in Saugeen Shores and a probable case associated with a cohort at the Inglenook Creche Childcare Centre in Owen Sound.
The health unit’s assessment of both situations has indicated that transmission of the virus occurred outside of the school and childcare centre, and therefore no COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared.
Those not contacted by the public health contact management team are being asked to not take any additional measures including self-directed asymptomatic testing.
Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health, said it’s an encouraging fact that so far no school-associated cases have turned into outbreaks.
“It’s just the bread and butter right now,” he said. “An outbreak hasn’t happened yet, and this cohorting system among other protective measures has been working.”
It’s the first childcare centre, however, to have an associated probable case. The entire cohort involved has been asked to isolate, Arra said.
“It’s a smaller cohort, it’s not the whole childcare facility, but it’s a different population. They’re toddlers, so there is less reliability, but we’re hoping results will be similar to the other school situations and we’re monitoring on a daily basis,” he said.
Arra and the health unit held a virtual town hall with local business owners Thursday night hours after the health unit distributed a media release reminding employers not to send their asymptomatic employees for COVID-19 testing.
Arra said there have been a few recent scenarios where workplace-associated illnesses resulted in the employer sending their entire staff for testing, or co-workers took it upon themselves to get tested without direction from the health unit.
“It’s a case of trying to go above-and-beyond actually backfiring,” Arra said. “It’s counter-productive. The assessment centre is going to receive a person without symptoms and no documented exposure by public health and they’re going to tell them to go home. Then, that person will call us . . . they’re doing it for the right reasons, but the clarity of roles is the essence of it.”
Arra said he hopes the local business community will heed the message. He said their response to the pandemic has been a real bright spot in the region.
“Businesses have been open now since May and they know exactly what to do, and have been doing it really nicely,” Arra said. “Kudos. Not a single outbreak of any calibre. In other parts of the province, workplace outbreaks have been a main driver, whether it’s in the carpool or the workplace, and we didn’t see that here, and that’s in the hands of the employers. It’s been impressive.”
There are now 29 active COVID-19 cases in Grey-Bruce along with five probable cases and 204 high-risk contacts.
Five people with COVID-19 are being treated at local hospitals. No deaths have been attributed to the disease in Grey-Bruce. Arra said the health unit does not report on whether a hospitalized case is in intensive care or otherwise because it changes rapidly and doesn’t affect the protection of the general public.
“It can change any minute. Somebody can be in the ER and move to the ICU, it can happen at any time. From our point of view, to report to the public is to give the public information that they can work with to protect themselves, there is no real difference between a case at home, in the ICU, or in the ER, in that sense,” Arra said.
To date, 389 Grey-Bruce residents have contracted the virus including 38 healthcare workers. Of those, 342 people have now recovered and 18 were referred to other health units.
Public health units throughout the province reported a combined 1,848 new cases of COVID-19 Friday along with 45 more deaths attributed to the disease.
The 45 deaths are the most in Ontario over a 24-hour period during the second wave of the pandemic.
Two more regions are moving into the Grey-Lockdown level of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework – the most restrictive level. The regions covered by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and York Region Public Health will join Toronto and Peel Region in lockdown Monday.
As of Friday morning, there were 16,233 confirmed active cases of the virus in Ontario.