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How B.C. health leaders will be living their lives as restrictions ease – The Tri-City News



When provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had a couple of friends over for a glass of wine in the front yard of her Victoria home on Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t a typical long-weekend get-together.

“It was a bit awkward and strange and a little bit anxiety provoking not having socialized for several months,” Henry said.

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She washed her hands, poured the wine, placed the clean glasses on a serving tray, and set the platter down for friends sitting two metres apart.

There was also hand sanitizer on the tray — which has become the new table centrepiece during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When her two friends left, as when they arrived, there were no hugs “which we wanted to do,” said Henry, in a phone interview.

The Times Colonist spoke with three health leaders on Monday about what they are personally planning to do as businesses open and social circles broaden under Phase Two of the B.C. Restart Plan that kicks off today.

B.C. Nurses’ Union president Christine Soresen, in Kamloops, will stick to take-out and patio restaurants for now; infectious disease and critical care specialist Dr. David Forrest, in Nanaimo, is wary of any enclosed space where people aren’t wearing masks, so indoor restaurants aren’t first on list to-do list; Henry is excited to return to her favourite eatery.

Phase Two is an experiment for both businesses and patrons, Henry said. “For many, the transition brings anticipation but it also, for many, brings further apprehension and anxiety as schools and businesses look to open once again. We are still learning the new ways of social interactions and doing things we’ve never had to do before and that in itself can create anxiety and concern.”

The idea is to keep to small enough groups to deprive the virus a chance of taking off again, Henry said. “It’s not going to be back to normal, it’s going to be back to something that’s really unusual and different for us.”

Next time Henry has her friends over, she will consider setting out individually portioned snacks, she said. “It’s really about being mindful and cleaning your hands regularly.”

As for restaurants opening this week, Henry is eager: “I’m really looking forward to going to a restaurant.” Her favourites tend to be smaller venues. “Outside is clearly safer but if I’m with one other person in my bubble I’m happy to sit inside and I will be looking again to make sure there’s the right spacing.”

Restaurants are required to operate at 50% of capacity, serve parties no bigger than six people, keep different parties at least two metres apart, and record contact information of at least one guest from each party and keep it for up to 30 days for contact tracing in the event of an outbreak.

To keep fit and maintain a balance in her busy life, Henry runs and does yoga.

Henry has been asking her yoga studio to hold classes in a park. “I’d be more inclined to do outdoor yoga right now.” As for her gym, she is going to continue to take their online classes. “I think it’s going to be a bit of a mixture right now. I find it really convenient to have a session with a trainer virtually.”

If people maintain their distance, Henry believes going to a department store or clothing and shoe shops will be fine.

Forrest, the infectious disease expert, has no plans to step inside a shopping mall or a gym any time soon but he’s less concerned about going to a barber, provided there’s proper physical distancing, low numbers of people and wearing of masks.

“Any place where there’s going to be crowding in an enclosed space will be a concern to me if not everyone is wearing a mask and because it’s not mandated and because I’ve seen people less interested in wearing masks recently I’m more concerned,” said Forrest. He emphasized that masks are not a replacement for physical distancing, but are a necessary adjunct.

Particularly difficult are establishments such as restaurants where it’s not practical to constantly wear a mask, said Forrest.

With renewed confidence among Islanders stemming from the low number of reported cases, Forrest said COVID-19 “will almost certainly” be re-introduced here. Rather than venturing out to more businesses and broadening social circles, Forrest said: “I’m actually a little bit more anxious now doing things like going to the grocery store and going out because the sense I have is that people have let their guard down a bit.”

Sorensen, the nurses’ union president, said she will continue ordering take-out food, she’s curious about an outdoor patio opening up across the street from her Kamloops condominium, and she has a hair appointment booked for June 3 — but she’ll hold off visiting a department store for “a little bit.”

“We’ll be looking for places that offer take-out and outside dining,” said Sorensen, who is sharing a condominium with her mother, 76, a retired nurse, and eldest son, 25, who returned from work in London, England. because of the pandemic.

“I’d prefer not to enter into a restaurant and stay in and be seated in a restaurant, and rather sort through this next month or so of the re-openings just to see how we manage,” said Sorensen.

Priorities start with a dental appointment for a cleaning and checkup and “next on my list is absolutely going to be my hairdresser,” said Sorensen. Her hairdresser opens June 1. Sorensen has been cutting her own hair. “She’s going to help me fix up my trim.”

Sorensen said when shopping in a grocery or hardware store she’s looking for places that make hand sanitizers available, have good physical distancing, dividers or barriers at cashier stands, and safety guidelines posted.

“Right now I think smaller businesses and outdoor access is very important for me — and fresh airflow I think is a good idea. Eventually we will all have to adapt and figure out how to enter larger businesses or big box stores or shopping malls and to do so safely.”

Sorensen socializes with neighbours and friends on her front lawn keeping a physical distance. “I think that’s what we’ll continue to do until, you know, we get the go ahead from Dr. Bonnie Henry to move forward into the next phase; we’ll do this cautiously and carefully.”

Henry said as we move forward we need to take a deep breath and continue to be “cautious everywhere.”

Just as we’ve adjusted to going to grocery stores under this new normal, we’ll learn to integrate more venues and safe contacts into our daily lives, she said.

“It will be a little anxiety provoking the first time we go to a restaurant and we’re sitting there, and it’s like OK,” said Henry.

The virus remains in the community but health officials have a good handle on where it is, Henry said. Phase 2 will bring a slight increase in cases but it should be manageable and traceable, she added. “So I’ll definitely be going to restaurants but with a small group. … We just need to take it slowly.”

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Coronavirus: Two new cases in Winnipeg Friday brings total to 300 –



This story will be updated as the press conference continues.

Two new cases of the novel coronavirus were announced Friday, both of them in Winnipeg.

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The latest cases include one man in his 20s, and another in his 30s, according to the province. One is a truck driver, and the other man was a close contact.

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As of Thursday an additional 671 laboratory tests for the virus were performed. The total number of tests performed since early February is now 47,372.

“Each Manitoban is going to have to decide the level of risk they’re going to take [going forward],” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial health officer.

But people who are sick should still stay home, he said.

Roussin added workplaces need to look at their policies and practices when it comes to staying home because they’re ill.

“We need to make it easy as possible … the alternative is people come to work sick.”

Lanette Siragusa reminded people that hospitals and health care centres will start allowing a designated visitor, but some may not start until Monday or later.

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Shared Health’s Chief Nursing Officer said people should call before they go.

Safety officers heading to Manitoba beaches amid COVID-19, no new cases reported Thursday

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID-19 roundup: new case reported in Owen Sound Friday – Owen Sound Sun Times



This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.

Photo supplied

One new case of COVID-19 was reported in the region Friday according to the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s daily situation report.

The most recent case was reported in Owen Sound, according to the health unit’s data.

Eighty-eight of the region’s 98 total cases have recovered. None of the active cases are currently hospitalized, and no deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 locally.

Twenty-four cases of the disease have been reported in healthcare workers. No local long-term care or retirement homes are currently under a declared COVID-19 outbreak.

* * *

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is recommending people use virtual forms of participation such as signing petitions, donating to groups, and learning more about racism and how to address it as anti-racism protests spread throughout the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Racism is a public health issue. Racism, in its many forms, profoundly impacts the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities,” said a Grey Bruce Health Unit news release. “We recognize that, at this time, people may want to gather to march and express themselves with respect to supporting efforts to end racism.”

The release did list several considerations for people who must participate in any local rallies including spreading out to maintain proper physical distancing, staying outside, wearing a face covering, and bringing hand sanitizer.

The health unit is asking older adults, the immunocompromised, and those living with vulnerable people who are more susceptible to serious complications should they contract COVID-19, to reconsider the need to be present in a large crowd.

“The Grey Bruce Health Unit has the responsibility to identify risk associated with any public health threat, including COVID-19. We remind people that gatherings increase the risk of transmission of disease,” the release said.

* * *

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is encouraging all municipalities to adopt bylaws restricting the use of beach and waterfront spaces after rescinding the beach closure order enacted on May 14.

However, municipalities in Grey-Bruce can now open beaches fully, allow only walk-through access, or maintain a full closure of the beach.

In a bulletin on their website the health unit recommends people check with their local municipality to confirm the status of the beach, waterfront, and river access points before planning to use them.

Even if some public waterfront spaces do reopen, amenities such as public washrooms, change rooms, and water refill stations may still be closed, a health unit media release explained. Therefore, the health unit is recommending beachgoers bring their own water jug with a spigot, soap and paper towels to wash their hands – or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Public health is recommending people wear a non-medical face mask or face covering in places where proper physical distancing measures cannot be controlled. They’re also recommending people bring reusable water bottles and individual containers for food to prevent sharing, and their own garbage bags.

Public health is asking residents to be patient with visitors and tourists who do not know the local guidance information and to politely inform them what is allowed at local beaches, and the proper guidelines to follow.

“We all want to have an enjoyable summer on our beautiful beaches in the safest and most sustainable way possible. We’re in this together,” the bulletin reads.

* * *

Community lab collections at South Bruce Grey Health Centre’s Chesley and Durham sites will resume on Monday.

Appointments will be required to ensure proper physical distancing for patient safety. Patients can begin booking appointments for June 15 and beyond by calling Patient Registration for Chesley (519-363-2340) or Durham (519-369-2340) between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

People are asked to have a health card and lab requisition ready when calling. A high volume of calls is expected and some waiting may be necessary, according to an SBGHC media release.

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Long-term care company cuts ties with executive after comments made during meeting –



A long-term care provider’s decision to cut ties with an executive who made disparaging remarks about the relatives of residents struck by the COVID-19 pandemic falls short of the mark, family members said Friday as they continued to push for greater accountability.

They said Sienna Senior Living’s decision to part ways with former executive vice-president of operations Joanne Dykeman does little to address their concerns about the care their relatives are receiving. Dykeman’s comments, they added, raise questions about the company’s overall commitment to residents and their families.

Sienna announced Dykeman’s departure a day after she was overheard mocking family members of seniors living at a home in Woodbridge, Ont., which has been grappling with a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

Immediately following an online video conference to discuss the situation at Woodbridge Vista Care Community, attendees reported hearing Dykeman refer to them as litigious and blood-sucking when she thought the call had been disconnected.

Sienna declined to verify the substance of Dykeman’s comments, but said they “fell far short of our expectations” and apologized to members of the Woodbridge Vista community.

For Mike di Donato, whose 92-year-old grandmother was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 at the home, the company’s actions weren’t good enough.

“There’s a culture problem there,” the 43-year-old said in a telephone interview. “There needs to be change.”

Di Donato said his grandmother moved to the facility last fall and received excellent care for the first several months of her residency.

He said his family did not become truly concerned until early May when the first positive cases were identified at the facility.

Di Donato said his grandmother tested positive for the virus on May 17, but he did not receive an update from Woodbridge Vista’s resident doctor until more than a week later.

That call, he said, came hours after the Ontario government released a damning military report about horrific conditions in five long-term care homes where soldiers had been deployed to provide support, including another facility owned by Sienna. The report detailed a litany of disturbing findings, including improper hygiene practices and inadequate efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Di Donato said he learned last weekend his grandmother was one of 18 Woodbridge Vista residents sent to hospital with the virus. In the days since, he said her condition has deteriorated and his family was forced to say what they fear will be their final goodbyes via video.

Dykeman’s comments, he said, came Wednesday night during a Zoom call with dozens of concerned relatives.

He described her conduct during the meeting as “callous,” saying she did not seem truly engaged with the family’s concerns and declined to answer specific questions about the ongoing outbreak.

Once the call had officially concluded, he said, he and several attendees overheard her remarks. Di Donato and others present reported hearing Dykeman refer to relatives as “blood-sucking class-action lawsuit people” and mock concerns expressed by some at the meeting.

Dykeman, who did not respond to request for comment, no longer worked for Sienna as of Thursday afternoon.

That same day, the Ontario government said management of Woodbridge Vista was being reassigned to William Osler Health System, a nearby hospital where patients were already receiving treatment. Data from the local public health authority indicated more than 20 residents had died from the virus, while more than 100 had fallen ill. More than 40 staff members were also infected.

“Despite receiving hospital support, Woodbridge Vista Care Community has been unable to contain the spread of COVID-19,” read a statement from the Ministry of Long-Term Care. “These steps will enable a rigorous management structure to help contain the spread of the disease and assist in returning their home to normal operations.”

Sienna said it has developed a six-point plan to protect residents, noting Dykeman’s remarks were not consistent with those efforts.  

“Our residents and their loved ones are deserving of our respect at all times and as a company we will ensure this respect guides our every action,” Sienna said, adding its “renewal” efforts include improving communication with families.

Di Donato said he questions Sienna’s commitment to change, but hopes the Dykeman controversy will force the company’s hand. 

“If she had disconnected properly from that Zoom call, would we be talking today? Probably not,” he said.

“They would have just kept doing what they’re doing.”

Sienna Living also owns Red Oak Retirement Homes located in Kanata.

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