Local health care professionals are still awaiting provincial approval for two coronavirus assessment centres here, one in Huntsville and one in Bracebridge.
The following sites are being proposed for the centres: in Huntsville it would be located at 100 Frank Miller Drive (building B) which has been home to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine where programs have ceased, while in Bracebridge the centre would be located at the Bracebridge Rotary Club, according to Dr. Melanie Mar, a representative of the planning group for the proposed community assessment centres here.
“Planning continues daily with a group of community medical partners for operationalizing these centres when they are approved to open,” noted Mar in an email statement on March 19, 2020. “Assessment centres will see and assess patients who have moderate to severe symptoms of fever and cough or shortness of breath. Patients with these symptoms should call their family doctor, Nurse Practitioner or the assessment centre to determine whether the patient needs to be seen at the Assessment Centre. The Assessment Centre will not be a walk-in clinic and patients will only be seen by appointment made by their doctor, Nurse Practitioner or by calling the appointment phone line,” she added.
According to Mar not all patients displaying symptoms, or travel history, will be tested. She said as the situation changes day-by-day, the centre would follow directives from provincial and regional authorities.
There is a growing shortage of testing kits provincially and the COVID-19 test will be considered based on guidelines from the Ministry of Health and at the discretion of the physician. The COVID test does NOT change the management of a patient with fever and cough and the usual treatment is rest and self-isolation until you are symptom free for 24 hours. Unfortunately, you cannot know if the people you come into contact with on a daily basis are carrying COVID-19, or any other virus for that matter.
~Dr. Melanie Mar
Mar said people can carry infection and have no, or very mild, symptoms “and we do not have the ability to test the entire community. This is why our primary and most effective approach to flattening the curve and the spread of infection for all of us (well or unwell) is to practise social distancing and excellent hand hygiene.”
The assessment centres are expected to ease demand on Muskoka’s hospitals. Centres are currently up and running in Collingwood, Barrie, and Orillia—all of which have had confirmed cases of the virus and are located within the catchment area of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the public health agency responsible for tracking the number of cases in this region.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, Orillia declared a state of emergency. The following are excerpts from the municipality’s website:
“Declaring an emergency provides the City of Orillia with additional powers and resources to protect the health and safety of the Orillia community and streamlines the decision making process for expediency through the City’s Emergency Control Group. This declaration aligns with the Government of Ontario’s Declaration of Emergency made March 17, 2020.”
In addition to declaring a State of Emergency, the following measures were put in place to assist Orillia citizens, businesses, and community organizations that are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Establish an emergency fund of $100,000 to be distributed to critical lead service providers on an as-needed basis, to be determined and administered through a review process of a review panel consisting of the Mayor/Coun. Lauer, the Chief Administrative Officer and City Treasurer.
- Waive Orillia Transit fees until further notice.
- Waive tax penalty through to June 30, 2020.
- Includes both residential and businesses.
- Waive water and sewer penalty through to June 30, 2020.
- Includes both residential and businesses.
- Waive parking fees through to April 30, 2020.
- Defer implementation of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) from April 6, 2020 to Sept. 1, 2020.
- Defer the second annual intake of the Downtown Tomorrow Community Improvement Plan (DTCIP) from the last day of April to the last day of June 2020.
As of 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit was reporting a total of nine confirmed cases in the southern part of its catchment area, including two hospitalizations and two deaths, spanning the areas of Barrie, Collingwood, Bradford, and Orillia. There were no confirmed cases of the virus reported in Muskoka.
You can check for regular updates on the number of cases confirmed regionally, provincially and nationally at this link.
Nationally, as of March 22 at 9 a.m., 98,824 people had been tested for the virus, 1,430 were confirmed, 41 cases were considered probable and 20 deaths were reported.
In Ontario as of March 22, 26,420 people had been tested with 17,634 negative results, according to the Ontario Ministry of Health. There were 412 confirmed cases while 8,361 were still under investigation and five deaths were reported.
Click here for all of our related stories and regular updates on how COVID-19 is affecting your community.
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