Timmins remains COVID-19 'hotspot' despite provincial peaking
TIMMINS -- With warmer and sunnier days in the forecast, health officials in Timmins want people to keep up with physical distancing and other safety measures.
Timmins and District Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Blaise MacNeil said he's concerned about staff and physicians being able to keep up their efforts for an indefinite period of time.
"Avoid the temptation at rejoining social contact as weather improves," MacNeil urged during the Mayor's Health Table conference on Tuesday. "We know through the premier's announcement (on Monday), the current restrictions are working to slow the rate of transmission."
But he stated this is not the time to ease restrictions and residents should remain as vigilant as possible.
"The last thing anyone wants is a resurgence in infection," said MacNeil.
Porcupine Health Unit officials agreed. They said even though the COVID-19 modeling shows the curve is flattening, it's critical that people stay home.
"We need to continue with the physical distancing and not visiting each other at this time so we continue with the progress. We shorten the length of COVID-19 and then we can resume our activities," said Chantal Riopel, Porcupine Health Unit's chief nursing officer.
Officials with the local social services board say the pandemic has also increased pressure on those who help people who are disadvantaged in the city.
"Those who were able to reside in homes of people that they know, so they're typically referred to as couch surfers, those options ended for them, and so they became part of our more traditional homeless profile and are now requiring services through Living Space," explained Brian Marks, chief administrative officer for Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board.
He said that's why numbers of people at local shelters have gone up.
Marks said Living Space workers are taking care of around 60 people nightly, housed throughout three locations: the shelter on Cedar Street, at the Northern College residence and the McIntyre Curling Club. Typically, they shelter around 50 people between Living Space and the Timmins Native Friendship Centre.
With more testing taking place in the health unit's area, officials expect case numbers to climb and they implore people not to let up with their safety efforts.
"We're not in the clear yet," said MacNeil.