Masks now recommended when shopping

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Wearing cloth masks and finding a new kind of normal life are all part of learning to live with COVID-19, says Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
It is now recommended that people wear masks when interacting with others. Gardner said formerly, the health community’s position was that masks may be useful in situations where physical distancing is difficult, but that there were risks associated with wearing a mask improperly because it causes the wearer to touch their face more often. Now, it is recommended that homemade cloth masks be worn when in close contact with others, reserving medical masks for professionals and patients.
“It’s important to know that the evidence shows that if they’re helpful, they’re helpful in preventing transmission from the wearer to other people and not the other way around,” said Gardner, noting all the other precautions need to be taken.
Ministry of Health has released specific recommendations on how to choose, wear and care for appropriate face coverings used in public where physical distancing is not possible.
Gardner said modeling has shown that isolation has prevented 24,700 cases in Simcoe Muskoka.
He said the local incidence rate continues to decline, while the province overall is seeing an increase in confirmed cases. The doubling rate has increased to 86.5 days, compared to 32.7 the week prior, which is a good indicator that the spread of the virus is slowing.
The total number of cases reported as of May 28 is 460, with 80 per cent of people having recovered. There haven’t been any new deaths this week related to COVID-19. Total deaths remains at 36. Seven people remain in hospital.
“We’ve done a good job, we need to continue to do a good job if we’re going to continue to bring this down and get back to a more normal living, noting this is going to continue for the length of the pandemic,” said Gardner. “There will always be this concern about transmission coming back if we’re not careful until we can achieve herd immunity through vaccination sometime late next year, is what we are thinking will happen.”
Now that the weather is nice more people are going out, which Gardner says is a good thing for our physical and mental health, as long as outings are done safely.
The province has heightened its capacity for testing and Gardner is saying now, anyone with even one of the listed symptoms is encouraged to call one of the regional assessment centres to see about getting a test. The health unit then follows up with those that test positive, and tracks their contacts.
Gardner said there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of testing being done in Simcoe Muskoka since the province has instructed assessment centres to test people with one symptom, as well as anyone working in the community, such as in health care or a grocery store, and those who have had contacts of concern.
Two long-term care facilities (Owen Hill Care Community in Barrie and Bayview Retirement Home in Waubaushene) are in an outbreak, but no new cases reported this week. An outbreak at Collingwood Nursing Home was declared over on Tuesday.

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