THINK – There are COVID-19 Lessons for Thunder Bay from Toronto, Steinbach and Winnipeg

COVID-19 Numbers Surge

Thunder Bay – THINK – It should not need to be said, but as COVID-19 numbers surge across Canada, it appears the message is not getting heard by enough people. In Ontario, Peel and Toronto are being shifted into lockdown.

In Manitoba, the province is struggling. Yet last weekend, in Steinbach, a community of almost 16,000 people, an anti-mask rally was held that attracted hundreds of people.

That rally brought harsh words from Manitoba Premier Pallister.

The stark reality for Steinbach is that the rate of positive tests for COVID-19 in the community is at 40 percent. There are about forty positive cases of COVID-19 bring reported daily.

In Winnipeg, the healthcare system is struggling, and the test positivity rate right now is 13.7 per cent.

Here in Thunder Bay, we have seen COVID-19 numbers climb dramatically over the past two week. Dr. Janet de Mille points to a pickle-ball tournament as a super spreader.

Perhaps in Thunder Bay, the hard work of so many residents over this pandemic that saw no cases being reported, led to a false sense of security and people started taking their eyes off the ball and some decided playing ball mattered more?

Our community has before it some real examples of just how serious this pandemic can be. Thunder Bay has an aging population. If you were to list calls that Superior EMS receive, there are a large number of responses which are for respiratory ailments. Many of our seniors simply put are very vulneralble to the ravages of this virus.

The simple advice from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is not all that hard to follow.

During these challenging times, it is important to take care of your health to avoid getting sick. Luckily, there are many ways to keep your immune system strong! Here are our top five suggestions:
  • Engage in regular physical activity. This not only lowers the risk of chronic diseases, it also lowers the risk of respiratory illnesses.
  • Strengthen your immune system by eating a variety of nutritious foods. Follow the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide, consume more vegetables and fruits and limit highly processed foods.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Establish a regular sleep routine. Sufficient, good-quality sleep is key to keeping your immune system strong, and has proven mental health benefits.

Ways to avoid the spread of COVID-19

  • Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.

One that should be added perhaps, in stores follow the guidelines for lanes. It is far too common in stores to see people ignoring the six foot social distancing, or walking the opposite way the store has set up their aisles.

Ask yourself, is your health worth it? That answer, should be yes.

We all have a responsibility to work together to protect each other. These are not times for “Business as Usual” these are times to think before acting.

James Murray

Open Letter to Steinbach from Serving Doctors

As a medical community here in Steinbach we are deeply concerned about the COVID-19 situation in our area. We know we are presently among the hardest hit in Canada, and we envision things getting even worse.

The situation at Bethesda Hospital is dire. As we write this there is an overflowing COVID-19 ward and our Emergency is straining under unsustainable numbers of critically ill COVID-19 patients. Many patients have been transferred to ICU in Winnipeg. Some have died. This is in addition to the ongoing care of PCH residents, cancer, surgical and obstetrical patients and other admissions for medical illnesses.

Our human resources are being stretched to the limit. On the medical floor of Bethesda up to half the nursing staff has at some point in time been unable to work because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been a close contact. Countless other support staff and health care workers have been affected. As a medical community, trying to do our best, we know more will die and we are reeling.

We cannot rely solely on the government or the local health care providers to solve this healthcare crisis. Community support is critical as we continue this daunting task. We need to stay focused not just on headlines but on the individual lives that are impacted.

We need this community, our community, to take public health guidelines seriously. We need people to stay home when ill, even if symptoms are mild. We need to reduce social contacts to household members and we especially need to accept the necessity of wearing masks.

Following public health guidelines is not a statement against freedom or faith, nor does it align science against faith. Following public health guidelines should be the partnership of an active faith community with an active medical community. We are calling on all of our citizens. We especially value the leadership of the faith community as we love our neighbours by caring for the most vulnerable in our midst.

We are asking that our patients and our fellow citizens accept a lesser amount of hardship now to avoid what could be unimaginable hardship in the future. We can change the course of this pandemic, but it will take community support. It will take a healthy medical community and it will take an acceptance of and an adherence to public health guidelines.

This is not a time for fear, blame, or indifference. This is a time for us to act together.

Thank you for your partnership. Signed,

Dr Jessica Allen
Dr Jennifer Anderson
Dr Alicia Barnard
Dr Jayson Barkman
Dr Cal Bergen
Dr Erica Blad
Dr Harold Booy
Dr Karen Bullock Pries
Dr Matthieu Cooney
Dr Ryan Dale
Dr James Denis
Dr Chris Dubiel
Dr Aaron Dubyna
Dr Mark Duerksen
Dr Gordon Dyck
Dr Neala Dyck
Dr Daniel Fama
Dr Paul Foster
Dr Paul Galessiere
Dr Sule Garba
Dr Tesfay Ghebray
Dr Remy-Martin Gratton
Dr Steven Gray
Dr Lindsay Guenther
Dr Kelsey Hawryluk
Dr Tim Hiebert
Dr Holly Hurst
Dr Mark Hoff
Dr Dan Ilchyna
Dr David Janz
Dr Gary Jawanda
Dr Wilfried Kaethler
Dr Edward Keeper
Dr Samantha Kimelman
Dr Brady Kornelson
Dr Curtis Krahn
Dr Karen Kwok
Dr Greg Longbottom
Dr James Lytwyn
Dr Aaron MacAuley
Dr Christo Minnaar
Dr Lionel Mokate
Dr Brady Murphy
Dr Tai Nguyen
Dr Dennis Paige
Dr Brittany Penner
Dr Nicole Porath
Dr Luzelle Pretorius
Dr Jennifer Preun
Dr Carmel Razzaghi
Dr Adrian Rozbacher
Dr Darren Reimer
Dr Monty Singh
Dr Myron Thiessen
Dr Alexa Toop
Dr Karen Toews
Dr Hang Trinh
Dr Mark Vendremelli
Dr Ray Warkentin
Dr Hillary Widdifield
Dr Eric Xu

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