Assume the best: public health doc

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The health unit continues to field calls about its instruction that people wear masks when frequenting indoor public spaces.
Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner reminds there are exemptions due to age, religion, medical conditions, physical activity and for those who are working behind a complete enclosure.
He said people are reporting they have felt discrimination for not wearing a mask, even though they have a valid reason.
“In no way are the operators of these premises to ask in detail why people are exempt,” said Gardner.
He said people should accept that there are valid reasons for not wearing a mask based on the criteria and not pry. “We’ve made allowance for a best effort approach so that an operator is not required to turn people away if they refuse to wear a mask. We recognize that some businesses have made it their policy to turn people away, but we are not requiring that they do so. We want to avoid overt conflict situations. We want to achieve high compliance while striking a balance to avoid that kind of conflict,” said Gardner.
“I would ask that people be compassionate if they see individuals who are not wearing a mask and assume the best, assume that they have a valid exemption for not wearing a mask and in no way treat them in any kind of negative fashion.”
The Collingwood General & Marine Hospital (CGMH) and Foundation has launched a public awareness campaign to educate residents and visitors to South Georgian Bay about the importance of wearing face masks in public when physical distancing is not possible. The “Wear a Mask – Protect Your Community” Campaign has been launched in partnership with local municipalities served by CGMH and will be featured on social media, outdoor, print and radio to cover the entire South Georgian Bay area.
“Although for now official infection rates are currently low in South Georgian Bay, we can’t assume that COVID-19 is not lingering in our community since studies have indicated that the number of asymptomatic and very mild cases that don’t come to medical attention can be on the order of 10 times higher. Widespread use of masks in public places, especially indoors, can reduce the transmission rate of the COVID-19 virus by 85 per cent,” said Dr. Mark Quigg, infection control lead at CGMH. “To help protect our community now and from a second wave of COVID-19 which we expect in the fall, we are encouraging everyone to wear masks.”
Gardner said the past week’s statistics are indicating “a bit of a surge,” with an increase of 26 cases. That brings the total to 645, with 80 of those being active.
A shift in the demographics is indicating that the virus is affecting the younger set with the average age of 32 years. For a long time the average age of those infected was in the 40s and 50s.
“That’s a substantial change over time and consistent with what’s being seen in other health units in other jurisdictions in the province: a new pattern related to transmission through social contact or through work environment,” said Gardner.

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