What could be behind Sudbury's recent spike in new COVID-19 cases?
SUDBURY -- After another significant rise in infections Wednesday, the area's top doctor is urging caution and vigilance in the days ahead.
Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, chief medical officer of health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts, says out of 22 cases in the last week and a half, eight have no known source of infection.
"We don't know how they were exposed," Sutcliffe said. "We know they haven't traveled to a place where they might have been exposed, there not a contact of a confirmed case, and so that is evidence, that means there is community spread."
Another alarming trend, which follows similar patterns being seen provincially and across the province, is a rise in cases among younger people. Sutcliffe said it's crucial that everyone take the virus seriously, stressing that while many youth see less severe complications, they are far from immune.
Put the mask on
"The norm is, the expectation you should have of yourself, of your friends is put that mask on, put the face covering on," said Sutcliffe. "It doesn't matter really what it looks like. Whatever you can do to make sure that you cover up, that you keep your distance, because young people can also get very sick themselves and they can then spread that to others."
The area recently went weeks without any new or active cases and Sutcliffe suspects there is a certain amount of 'COVID fatigue,' but now is not the time to let our guard down.
"We're seeing people feeling safe, having social gatherings of all ages and yes, they know to keep a distance, but it probably doesn't really apply to them and then cases crop up and suddenly it's like oh I really should have kept my distance, I really should have worn a face covering, I really shouldn’t have hugged those people," said Sutcliffe.
Sudbury's rise in cases comes just days after fire officials responded to calls of a pit party in Garson.
"Our firefighters responded to that situation in conjunction with Greater Sudbury Police Services, as it did appear to have a large number of individuals present," said Jesse O'Shell, deputy fire chief for Greater Sudbury Fire Services.
"I don't know the exact number, but certainly there's a possibility that there were a large number of individuals there that were in contravention (of) the provincial orders."
While Sutcliffe is concerned by the recent rise in case counts, she said that at this point there is no plan to return the region back to stage 2, which saw fewer businesses open and increased restrictions on socializing. She's urging residents who do choose to socialize, to do so safely.
"It's not don't do it," said Sutcliffe. "It's not no categorically, but it's how do I do this safely, how do I do this in a way that's going to protect me, going to protect the people around me so if the worst happens and somebody there is infected then I am protected myself and I'm doing my best to protect others."