Transcript: What's Driving Covid Cases in Sault Ste. Marie? | Nov 19, 2021

Nam Kiwanuka sits at the Agenda news desk. She wears a dark blue blazer over a black blouse. Her auburn hair is parted to one side. A monitor behind her shows a red lowercase ‘a’. Nam holds a pen between her fingers as she rests her hands on the desk. Papers, a cell phone, and a glass of water sit in front of her.

Text reads, “What’s Driving Covid-19 Cases in Sault Ste. Marie?”

Nam begins,
HERE'S WHAT YOU DON'T
WANT TO HEAR IN A PRESS RELEASE
ISSUED BY LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH:
"TRANSMISSION IS OCCURRING
THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY IN
WORKPLACES, SCHOOLS, SPORT AND
RECREATIONAL SETTINGS, HEALTH
CARE SETTINGS AND WITHIN
VULNERABLE POPULATIONS...."
BUT THAT IS PULLED DIRECTLY FROM
COMMUNICATIONS FROM ALGOMA
PUBLIC HEALTH THIS WEEK.
AS CASES THERE ARE SURGING.
WITH US FOR MORE FROM SAULT STE.
MARIE, DR. JENNIFER LOO,
MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH FOR
ALGOMA PUBLIC HEALTH.
WELCOME.

Jennifer replies,
THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Text reads, “What’s Driving Covid-19 Cases in Sault Ste. Marie? The Current Situation”

Nam adds,
DR. LOO, THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR BEING ON THE SHOW.
I KNOW YOU'RE PRETTY BUSY.
JUST BEFORE WE START OUR
CONVERSATION, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT
ALGOMA PUBLIC HEALTH, WHAT ARE
SOME OF THE MAIN POPULATION
AREAS ASIDE FROM SAULT STE.
MARIE?

Text read, “Jennifer Loo, Algoma Public Health”

Jennifer sits in the corner of her office. A wall beside her is filled with diplomas and certificates. Books line a bookshelf behind Jennifer. Her long black hair rests on her shoulders. Her computer screen reflects in her glasses.

Jennifer responds,
FOR SURE.
SO ALGOMA PUBLIC HEALTH COVERS A
LARGE AREA IN THE NORTHEAST OF
ONTARIO.
OUR SERVICE AREA IS ESSENTIALLY
BETWEEN THUNDER BAY AND SUDBURY.
SO WE WORK WITH TWENTY-ONE
MUNICIPALITIES AS WELL AS EIGHT
FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES WHOSE
TERRITORIES ARE THE LAND OF THE
MUNICIPALITIES THAT WE SERVE.
AND SOME OF OUR COMMUNITIES ARE
A FEW THOUSAND PEOPLE LIKE
ELLIOT LAKE, TEN THOUSAND,
BLIND RIVER, WAWA, SOME OF OUR
COMMUNITIES ARE MUCH SMALLER.
THEY HAVE A FEW HUNDRED PEOPLE.
AND FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT VERY
FAMILIAR WITH NORTHERN ONTARIO,
IF YOU WERE IN TORONTO AND
WANTED TO FLY TO THE SAULT IT'S
A VERY QUICK ONE-HOUR FLIGHT.
BECAUSE YOU CUT ACROSS AND FLY
DIAGONALLY AND CUT NORTHWEST
ACROSS THE LAKE.
IF YOU ARE DRIVING UP, I DON'T
KNOW HOW FAR --

Nam adds, IT'S LONGER.

Nam and Jennifer laugh.

Jennifer notes,
IT'S A BIT LONGER, YEAH.
IT'S ABOUT A SEVEN-HOUR DRIVE TO
GET TO THE SAULT.
IF YOU ARE DRIVING FROM TORONTO
GO NORTH.
HEAD UP THE 400 UNTIL THAT
STOPS.
KEEP GOING.
PAST BARRIE.
ONCE YOU HIT SUDBURY HEAD WEST
AND YOU EVENTUALLY GET TO ALGOMA
AND YOU GET TO SOME OF OUR
MUNICIPALITIES SKIMMING ALONG
THE NORTH CHANNEL OF LAKE HURON
AND SAULT STE. MARIE, OUR
BIGGEST MUNICIPALITY WITH ABOUT
SEVENTY-FOUR THOUSAND PEOPLE.
THAT IS NESTLED WHERE SOME OF
THE GREAT LAKES MEET: LAKE
SUPERIOR, LAKE HURON AND LAKE
MICHIGAN.

Nam states,
A VERY BEAUTIFUL AND DIVERSE AREA.
YOUR HEALTH REGION IS CURRENTLY
GRAPPLING WITH ONE OF THE
HIGHEST RATES OF TRANSMISSION
WITHIN THE PROVINCE.
CAN YOU GIVE US A SNAPSHOT OF
WHAT'S HAPPENING THERE?

Jennifer replies,
FOR SURE.
SO RIGHT NOW WE HAVE JUST OVER
TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY ACTIVE
CASES WITH ABOUT FIFTEEN
PEOPLE THAT ARE HOSPITALIZED.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF OUR CASES
AND TRANSMISSION HAVE BEEN
HAPPENING IN SAULT STE. MARIE.
TO GIVE YOU SOME SENSE AND
CONTEXT OF THOSE NUMBERS,
THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC, A TOTAL
NUMBER OF CASES THAT WE HAVE HAD
IS AROUND EIGHT HUNDRED.
SO WHAT WE'RE REALLY SEE
SOMETHING THAT ABOUT A QUARTER
OF OUR TOTAL CASES HAVE BEEN
HAPPENING WITHIN THE PAST COUPLE
OF WEEKS.
AND THAT HAS BEEN A HUGE SURGE.
IF YOU REMEMBER THAT COLOUR
CODED FRAMEWORK FROM LAST YEAR,
A SEVEN-DAY INCIDENT IN THE
FIFTIES WOULD PUT YOU IN THE RED
ZONE.
OUR SEVEN-DAY INCIDENTS MOST
RECENTLY HAVE BEEN WAY ABOVE
A HUNDRED AND THIRTY. SO WE'RE
WAY ABOVE THAT. AND THAT
HAS BEEN A TREMENDOUS
IMPACT ON OUR LOCAL ABILITY TO
KEEP UP AND MANAGE THESE CASES
AND DO CONTACT TRACING.

Nam says,
I READ PART OF THAT
PRESS RELEASE.
AND IT'S VERY SHOCKING.
ARE YOU ALARMED WITH WHAT'S
HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

Jennifer answers,
I THINK ALL OF US,
AS WE HEADED INTO THE FALL, WERE
GEARING UP FOR A POTENTIAL
RESURGENCE OF THE VIRUS.
AND, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY YOU
PREPARE FOR THE WORST.
YOU HOPE IT DOESN'T HAPPEN.
BUT WHAT WE'RE SEEING RIGHT NOW
IS NOT PARTICULARLY SURPRISING.
WE KNOW THAT AS RESTRICTIONS
EASE, PEOPLE WANT TO GO BACK TO
NORMAL.
IT HAS BEEN A VERY, VERY LONG
PANDEMIC FOR ALL OF US.
AND AS SOON AS PEOPLE GET A
SIGNAL THAT THINGS ARE
IMPROVING, WE WANT TO GO BACK TO
ALL THOSE ACTIVITIES THAT WE
USED TO ENJOY AND HAVE LOTS OF
VISITS WITH ONE ANOTHER AND
FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE VIRUS IS
STILL CIRCULATING.
IT IS THE DELTA VARIANT WHICH IS
VERY TRANSMISSIBLE.
AND WHEN WE HAVE PEOPLE BECOMING
A BIT MORE COMPLACENT WITH
THINGS LIKE MASKING AND
DISTANCING AND HAVING MORE
SOCIAL CONTACTS, PUT THAT
TOGETHER WITH COLDER
TEMPERATURES AND PEOPLE MOVING
INDOORS, THAT'S WHEN WE HAVE A
BIT OF A PERFECT STORM OF
TRANSMISSION.
AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE SEEING AS
WELL.
HERE IN THE NORTH OBVIOUSLY
TEMPERATURES DROP A LITTLE BIT
SOONER THAN IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO.
WE HAVE SNOW ON THE GROUND AT
THIS MOMENT IN THE SAULT.
AND SO ALL OF THOSE FACTORS
COMBINED TOGETHER HAVE BEEN
DRIVING THIS CURRENT SURGE.

Nam responds,
WHAT IS THE VACCINATION
RATE IN YOUR REGION?

Jennifer replies,
HAPPY TO SAY THAT
IMMUNIZATION HAS BEEN REALLY
SUCCESSFUL HERE IN ALGOMA.
JUST LAST WEEK, WE REACHED THE
MILESTONE OF OVER 90% OF
ELIGIBLE PEOPLE HAVING GOTTEN AT
LEAST THEIR FIRST DOSE.
AND OVER 86% OF PEOPLE ELIGIBLE
ARE FULLY IMMUNIZED HERE.
OVER THE PAST WEEKS, WE'VE
CONTINUED TO PROVIDE THIRD-DOSE
BOOSTERS AS WELL AS FIRST AND
SECOND DOSES TO PEOPLE.
AND WE'RE REMINDING FOLKS THAT,
YOU KNOW, NOW IS THE TIME TO GET
IMMUNIZED IF YOU WANT TO BE
FULLY PROTECTED IN TIME FOR THE
HOLIDAYS.
IT'S JUST FIVE WEEKS OUT NOW.

Nam says,
THE MAJORITY OF THE
PEOPLE WHO ARE GETTING COVID
NOW, ARE THE CASES AMONGST THE
PEOPLE WHO ARE UNVACCINATED?

Jennifer notes,
YEAH, SO WHAT WE'RE
SEEING IS THAT THE MAJORITY OF
CASES AT THIS TIME ARE PEOPLE
WHO ARE NOT YET FULLY IMMUNIZED.
ABOUT 65% OF OUR CURRENT CASES
IN THIS FOURTH WAVE HAVE BEEN
PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT YET FULLY
IMMUNIZED AND ABOUT 35% OF OUR
CASES ARE AMONGST PEOPLE WHO ARE
FULLY IMMUNIZED.
WE KNOW THAT THE VACCINES
PROVIDE REALLY GOOD PROTECTION
AGAINST SEVERE DISEASE.
AND, AGAIN, OF THE PEOPLE IN
HOSPITAL, BASED ON WHAT WE'RE
SEEING WITH OUR HOSPITAL
PARTNERS, ABOUT 75% OF PEOPLE
HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID RIGHT
NOW ARE THOSE WHO ARE NOT FULLY
IMMUNIZED.

Nam adds,
I READ, TOO, SOMEWHERE,
THAT PEOPLE ARE BEING TOLD NOT
TO VISIT PEOPLE IN HOSPITALS.
IS THAT HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

Jennifer answers,
AT THIS POINT IN TIME, SAULT
AREA HOSPITAL WHICH
IS OUR MAJOR TERTIARY CARE
CENTRE HAS PUT SOME VISITOR
LIMITATIONS IN EFFECT.
AGAIN, THIS IS TO PROTECT
PATIENTS AND TO PROTECT STAFF AS
WELL.
WE ARE IN A SITUATION WHERE
THERE'S MORE COMMUNITY
TRANSMISSION.
SO THERE ARE CERTAINLY SMALL
EXCEPTIONS WHERE VISITORS ARE
POSSIBLE FOR COMPASSIONATE
REASONS OR FOR CERTAIN HEALTH
SITUATIONS.
BUT FOR THE MOST PART, VISITORS
HAVE BEEN RESTRICTED IN THE
HOSPITAL SETTING.

Nam asks,
WHAT IS YOUR CAPACITY IN
TERMS OF HOSPITAL BEDS?

Jennifer replies,
SO I DON'T HAVE
THAT NUMBER OFF HAND.
HAPPY TO GET IT FOR YOU WITH OUR
HOSPITAL PARTNERS.
BUT, AGAIN, IN CLOSE
CONVERSATION WITH THEM, STAFFING
CAPACITY AND BEDS ARE STABLE
RIGHT NOW.
HOWEVER, SOME ELECTIVE
PROCEDURES AT THE LOCAL HOSPITAL
HAVE BEEN RESCHEDULED.
WE HAVEN'T REACHED THE POINT YET
WHERE WE ARE, YOU KNOW,
CANCELLING SURGERIES.
BUT CERTAINLY THAT'S WHAT WE
WANT TO PREVENT.
WE DON'T WANT TO DISRUPT HEALTH
CARE SERVICES TO OUR COMMUNITY.
WE WANT TO PROTECT THEM AND
PRESERVE THEM.
AND THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT IS
TO MAKE SURE THAT WE CURB THE
CURRENT TRANSMISSION.

Text reads, “What’s Driving Covid-19 Cases in Sault Ste. Marie? Factors Behind the Outbreak”

Nam says,
WE TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHY
CASES MIGHT BE GOING UP.
BECAUSE IT IS GETTING COLDER.
YOU ALREADY HAVE SNOW ON THE
GROUND.
BUT YOUR REGION WAS RELATIVELY
UNSCATHED BY COVID LAST YEAR.
SO WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE
KEY FACTORS BEHIND THIS
OUTBREAK?

Jennifer responds,
ABSOLUTELY.
SO I THINK THAT RIGHT NOW, WE
ARE IN A SITUATION WHERE PEOPLE
HAVE ENJOYED A WONDERFUL LATE
SUMMER AND EARLY FALL.
THEY'VE BEEN ABLE TO DO SOME
TRAVELLING, VISITING.
DOING ALL THE ACTIVITIES THAT
USED TO BE NORMAL BEFORE THE
PANDEMIC.
AND THE MORE WE DO THEM, THE
MORE WE SEE ONE ANOTHER.
THE MORE COMPLACENT WE CAN GET.
WE TEND NOT TO DISTANCE OR MASK
ANY MORE.
AND EVEN IN THE WORKPLACE,
RESTRICTIONS HAVE BEEN GRADUALLY
BEEN LIFTED THROUGHOUT THE FALL.
AND, AGAIN, THIS IS WHAT WE
WANTED TO DO.
BUT OBVIOUSLY THINGS CHANGE WHEN
THE TEMPERATURES DROP.
AND ONCE WE HAVE PEOPLE DOING A
LOT OF SOCIALIZING AND HAVING
UNMASKED CLOSE CONTACT INDOORS,
THIS IS WHEN THE VIRUS STARTS TO
SPREAD.
AND I THINK THE OTHER PIECE IS
SOME MISPERCEPTIONS AROUND THE
PROTECTION OF VACCINES.
VACCINES PROVIDE GREAT
PROTECTION.
IF A PERSON GETS INFECTED AND
THEIR FULLY IMMUNIZED, CHANCES
ARE THEY'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE
SEVERE DISEASE.
AND IF THEY'RE OTHERWISE HEALTHY
THEY'RE NOT GOING TO END UP IN
THE HOSPITAL.
BUT THE VACCINES DON'T MAKE US
INVINCIBLE, RIGHT?
SO WHAT WE'RE REALLY TRYING TO
TELL PEOPLE IS THAT IF YOU'VE
BEEN FULLY IMMUNIZED, FANTASTIC
AND THANK YOU.
AND YOU CAN STILL HAVE A MILD
INFECTION AND SPREAD THAT
INFECTION TO OTHERS.
SO WE'RE REALLY URGING PEOPLE AT
THIS POINT IN TIME TO TAKE NOTE
OF THOSE MILD SYMPTOMS.
DON'T BRUSH THEM OFF AND THEN
TAKE YOURSELF TO WORK OR SCHOOL.
GET TESTED AND STAY HOME IF
YOU'RE SICK.

Nam replies,
AS YOU MENTIONED IT'S
BEEN -- THIS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN
VERY LONG.
AND VACCINES ARE NOT JUST THE
ONE TOOL THAT WE HAVE IN OUR
TOOL KIT.
FROM YOUR VANTAGE POINT, WERE
BUSINESSES FOLLOWING HEALTH AND
SAFETY PROTOCOLS BY ENFORCING
MASKING, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND
SO FORTH?

Jennifer says,
ABSOLUTELY.
I THINK THE VAST MAJORITY OF
BUSINESSES HAVE HAD THEIR SAFETY
PLANS IN PLACE.
AND GOOD, SOLID POLICIES AND
PROCEDURES INCLUDING VACCINATION
POLICY.
LOTS OF OUR LOCAL BUSINESSES
HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTING THOSE
WITH GREAT EFFECT.
AGAIN, AT THE END OF THE DAY,
THOUGH, EVEN IF YOU HAVE A
FANTASTIC POLICY AND, YOU KNOW,
SOLID PROCEDURES ON PAPER, IT
COMES DOWN TO WHAT'S HAPPENING
IN REALITY WITH HUMAN BEHAVIOUR.
AND AS WE KNOW, IN PUBLIC
HEALTH, HUMAN BEHAVIOUR CAN BE
REALLY CHALLENGING TO CHANGE.
AND SOMETIMES IT TAKES TIME.
IT TAKES REPEATED EFFORTS.
BUT THIS IS BREAD AND BUTTER
PUBLIC HEALTH, RIGHT?
WHETHER IT'S SMOKING OR EATING
HEALTHY OR EXERCISING OR
DRINKING HABITS.
THESE ARE THE KINDS OF HUMAN
BEHAVIOURS AND HEALTH BEHAVIOURS
THAT WE'RE ALWAYS WORKING WITH
OUR LOCAL PARTNERS TO TRY AND
MANAGE.
AND SOMETIMES IT'S A COMBINATION
OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING,
POSTERS, SETTING UP THE PHYSICAL
ENVIRONMENT SO THAT YOU'RE BY
DEFAULT DISTANCING.
AND SOMETIMES IT'S A MATTER OF
ENFORCEMENT AS WELL.
SO WE USE ALL THESE TOOLS IN
PUBLIC HEALTH AND WORK DIRECTLY
WITH A LOT OF OUR LOCAL
BUSINESSES TO MAKE SURE THAT AS
MUCH AS POSSIBLE THEY STAY OPEN
AND STAY SAFE.

Nam notes,
YOU KNOW, BECAUSE SOME
BUSINESSES, ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE
IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR, HAVE
REQUIRED PEOPLE TO GET
VACCINATED BUT SOME PRIVATE
BUSINESSES HAVEN'T.
ALGOMA STEEL MILL IN SAULT STE.
MARIE DOESN'T REQUIRE WORKERS
TO GET VACCINATED.
DO YOU THINK THAT PLAYED A ROLE
IN THIS SURGE?

Jennifer responds,
SURE, SO I THINK
THAT ABSOLUTELY, WHEN YOU HAVE A
STRONG VACCINATION POLICY IN
PLACE AT THE WORKPLACE, IT CAN
ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO GET
IMMUNIZED.
AND WE CONTINUE TO WORK WITH A
LOT OF OUR TRADES AND SIMILAR
WORKPLACES TO SEE IF THEY'RE
ABLE TO PUT POLICIES IN PLACE TO
ENCOURAGE IMMUNIZATION.
BUT SOMETIMES THAT'S CHALLENGING
AS WELL.
AND THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO,
TOO, THAT WE NEED TO LOOK AT
ASSISTING PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO
WEAR PROPER PPE, FOLLOW
PROTECTIVE MEASURES WHEN THEY'RE
IN THE WORKPLACE, NOT GATHER SO
MUCH AND, AGAIN, IT COMES DOWN
TO, YES, IMMUNIZATION AND ALL
THESE OTHER PROTECTIVE
BEHAVIOURS.

Nam adds,
GIVEN YOUR PROXIMITY TO
THE U.S.-CANADA BORDER, DO YOU
FEEL THAT THE BORDER REOPENING
MIGHT HAVE PLAYED A ROLE IN
THIS?

Jennifer states,
AS A BORDER COMMUNITY WE'VE
ALWAYS BEEN ACUTELY AWARE OF
WHAT'S GOING ON JUST ACROSS
THE RIVER. IN SAULT STE. MARIE,
MICHIGAN. WE KNOW THAT A LOT
OF ESSENTIAL WORKERS HAVE
CONTINUED TO GO BACK AND FORTH
AND HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT
THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC.
SOME LOCAL HEALTH CARE WORKERS
COMMUTE TO WORK AT THE HOSPITAL
ACROSS THE RIVER IN MICHIGAN.
WE HAVE STUDENTS WHO LIVE IN
SAULT STE. MARIE, ONTARIO.
ATTENDING LAKE SUPERIOR STATE
UNIVERSITY.
AND AS THE BORDER HAS REOPENED,
THIS BACK AND FORTH CERTAINLY
HAS GONE UP.
AND AS PART OF OUR OVERALL
MESSAGING TO THE COMMUNITY,
WE'RE ALWAYS MAKING PEOPLE AWARE
OF WHAT THE COVID SITUATION IS
LIKE JUST ACROSS THE BORDER.
IN THE PAST WEEKS, THE UPPER
PENINSULA OF MICHIGAN CERTAINLY
HAS SEEN HIGH RATES OF COVID AS
WELL.
AND WE'RE MAKING SURE THAT
PEOPLE KNOW THAT AND KNOW THEIR
RISK BEFORE TRAVELLING TO MAKE
SURE THAT THEY KEEP THEIR MASKS
ON AND THEY KEEP THEIR DISTANCE
IN THESE COMMUNITIES EVEN IF
THERE'S NOT A LOT OF ROLES THERE
AS THERE ARE STILL HERE.

Nam says,
I KNOW YOU'VE BEEN WORKING HARD
THROUGHOUT THIS PANDEMIC.
AND I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE
BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO THE
HOLIDAY SEASON.
NOW WITH NUMBERS GOING UP, WHAT
IS THE MOOD IN YOUR REGION?
IS THERE A SENSE OF FRUSTRATION
THAT THIS IS WHERE YOU ARE NOW?

Text reads, “What’s Driving Covid-19 Cases in Sault Ste. Marie? Curbing the Spread”

Jennifer replies,
I THINK OBVIOUSLY THERE'S A HUGE
AMOUNT OF FATIGUE WITH THIS
PANDEMIC. PEOPLE REALLY CRAVE
THAT NORMALCY.
AND WE REMEMBER THE CHALLENGING
TIMES OF LAST YEAR DURING THE
HOLIDAY SEASON WHEN THERE WERE
VERY RESTRICTIVE LOCKDOWNS IN
PLACE AND YOU COULD NOT REALLY
GATHER WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
THE PURPOSE OF THE ENTIRE
PANDEMIC RESPONSE HAS NOT BEEN
JUST TO LIMIT DISEASE AND DEATH
BUT ALSO TO LIMIT SOCIETAL
DISRUPTION.
SO THE ACTIONS THAT WE'RE URGING
PEOPLE TO TAKE NOW ARE REALLY SO
THAT WE DON'T HAVE TO TAKE EVEN
MORE RESTRICTIVE ACTIONS DOWN
THE ROAD AND ESPECIALLY DURING
THE HOLIDAY SEASON.

Nam responds,
WHAT ABOUT THE ACTIONS
THAT YOU ARE TAKING NOW TO CURB
THE SPREAD.

Jennifer says,
FOR SURE.
SO LAST FRIDAY WE ISSUED A VERY
STRONG MESSAGE TO OUR LOCAL
COMMUNITIES ASKING EVERYONE TO
TAKE KEY MEASURES.
NUMBER ONE GET VACCINATED.
NUMBER TWO, STAY HOME IF YOU'RE
SICK -- EVEN IF IT'S MILD
SYMPTOMS -- EVEN IF YOU'VE BEEN
FULLY VACCINATED.
AND NUMBER THREE, CUT DOWN ON
THOSE UNMASKED, UNPROTECTED,
CLOSE CONTACT INTERACTIONS WITH
ONE ANOTHER.
WE HAVE, IN THE NORTH, A VERY
GOOD CULTURE OF DEALING WITH
WINTER.
WINTER COMES EVERY YEAR.
IT'S NEVER FAIR.
BUT IT DOES.
AND EVERY TIME THERE IS A HUGE,
GIANT SNOWSTORM WITH SIX FEET OF
SNOW WE DON'T SEE SPEED LIMITS
GO DOWN.
WHAT WE'RE SEEING IS PEOPLE
DRIVING ACCORDING TO CONDITIONS
AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED
EVERYONE TO DO RIGHT NOW.
SURGES OF ACTIVITY CAN HIT
COMMUNITIES AT ANY POINT IN
TIME.
AND PEOPLE NEED TO BE AWARE AND
ADJUST OUR BEHAVIOURS
ACCORDINGLY.
NOW WITH THIS GIANT SURGE NOW IS
NOT THE TIME TO HAVE A PACKED
SOCIAL SCHEDULE, FULL
EXTRACURRICULARS EVERY DAY OF
THE WEEK PLUS EVENINGS AND
WEEKENDS.
NOW IS THE TIME TO CUT BACK,
PAUSE AND POSTPONE THOSE
NON-ESSENTIAL GATHERINGS UNTIL
TRANSMISSION IS LOWER.
SO THOSE THREE THINGS WERE THE
MAIN, KEY ACTIONS THAT WE'RE
ASKING EVERYONE TO DO RIGHT NOW.
AND AS YOU'LL NOTE THIS MONDAY,
THE HEALTH UNIT ALSO TOOK SOME
ACTION.
WE ISSUED A CLASS ORDER SECTION
22 REQUIRING ISOLATION ON A
LEGAL ORDER.
WE ENCOURAGED SAULT STE. MARIE
BUSINESSES FOR A LETTER OF
INSTRUCTIONS TO ESSENTIALLY
INSTRUCT THEM TO REINSTATE
CAPACITY LIMITS THAT WERE
RECENTLY LIFTED AND PUT BACK
PHYSICAL DISTANCING ON THE
PREMISES AND WE ALSO NOW REQUIRE
ANYONE TWELVE-PLUS PARTICIPATING
IN INDOOR ORGANIZED SPORT TO
DEMONSTRATE PROOF OF VACCINE.
SO THE HEALTH UNIT DID A NUMBER
OF MANDATORY MEASURES IN OUR
REGION.
AND AT THE SAME TIME WE'RE
ASKING EVERY RESIDENT AND
COMMUNITY MEMBER TO DO THEIR
PART AND SLOW DOWN, CUT BACK ON
CLOSE CONTACTS.

Nam notes,
ONE OF THOSE ITEMS YOU
MENTION IS FOR AS MANY PEOPLE TO
GET IMMUNIZED AS POSSIBLE.
AS OF FRIDAY HEALTH CANADA
AUTHORIZED THE VACCINE FOR KIDS
AGE FIVE TO ELEVEN.
IS YOUR REGION PREPARED TO ROLL
OUT THE VACCINE FOR THAT AGE
GROUP?

Jennifer answers,
ABSOLUTELY.
WE HAVE BEEN WAITING AND VERY
EXCITED TO HEAR THAT THE
APPROVAL OF THE PFIZER VACCINE
IS NOW HERE FOR FIVE TO
ELEVEN-YEAR-OLDS. AND OUR
CLINICS ACROSS OUR DISTRICT,
ACROSS OUR, YOU KNOW,
TWENTY-ONE MUNICIPALITIES AND
THAT SEVEN-HOUR DRIVE, WE HAVE
BEEN WORKING REALLY HARD WITH
PARTNERS OVER THE PAST THREE
WEEKS TO PREPARE FOR THIS
MOVEMENT.
SO THAT AS SOON AS WE RECEIVE
THAT ORDER THOSE PAEDIATRIC
MEDICATIONS WE WILL BE ABLE TO
START ROLLING THEM OUT AND
ADMINISTERING THEM TO OUR KIDS.
WE DID A SURVEY A FEW WEEKS AGO
JUST TO SEE WHAT THE PREFERENCES
ARE OF OUR PARENTS.
AND IT LOOKS LIKE, YOU KNOW,
PEOPLE PREFER A VARIETY OF
OPTIONS.
THERE ARE SOME WHO REALLY WANT
TO GET IT DONE IN THEIR DOCTOR'S
OFFICE.
SOME WHO LIKE THE COMMUNITY
CLINICS AND WE'RE MAKING THOSE
KID FRIENDLY FOR THE NEXT FEW
WEEKS.
AND SOME WHO LIKE THE
CONVENIENCE OF POP-UPS AND
DROP-INS.
SO WE'LL HAVE SOME SCHOOL-BASED
CLINICS AFTER HOURS.
WE'LL CERTAINLY HAVE COMMUNITY
CLINICS AND WE'LL HAVE MANY
PHARMACY PARTNERS AND PRIMARY
CARE PARTNERS AS WELL WHO ARE
OFFERING IN THEIR CLINICS AND
OFFICES.

Nam responds,
IN OUR LAST TWENTY SECONDS I
KNOW YOU'RE FROM SOUTHWESTERN
ONTARIO.
A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM HERE WILL
PROBABLY BE COMING UP THERE FOR
CHRISTMAS.
WHAT DO YOU SAY -- OR ARE YOU
EVEN CONCERNED ABOUT MAYBE THAT
WILL MAKE THE SITUATION WORSE?

Jennifer states,
SO, AGAIN, I WOULD
SAY THAT NOW IS THE TIME TO
DRIVE ACCORDING TO CONDITIONS.
KEEP AN EYE ON WHAT COVID
ACTIVITY IS LIKE LOCALLY WHERE
YOU ARE RIGHT NOW AND AT YOUR
DESTINATION.
WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE
REMAIN SAFE OVER THE HOLIDAYS
WHILE THEY'RE GATHERING WITH
LOVED ONES.
AND NOW IS THE TIME -- FIVE
WEEKS OUT -- TO TAKE ADDITIONAL
PRECAUTIONS.
SO THAT WE AVOID A WORSENING
SURGE AND WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO
GATHER.

Nam says,
DR. LOO, THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR TAKING TIME TO SPEAK TO
US.
WE KNOW YOU'RE VERY, VERY BUSY
AND WE WISH YOU ALL THE BEST
DURING THIS CHALLENGING TIME.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Jennifer replies, THANK YOU, NAM.

Text reads, “What’s Driving Covid-19 Cases in Sault Ste. Marie? Produced by: Preeti Bhuyan @PreetiBhuyan”

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