Sudburians must “act now” to slow an alarming spike of COVID in the community, says the city’s mayor.
“Let’s pull back on going out,” urged Brian Bigger in a statement issued Sunday. “When we do go out — make it for a good reason and mask up.”
While the province has previously said that indoor get-togethers of up to 10 people are acceptable, a recent explosion of cases in Sudbury means residents have to make more sacrifices in terms of socializing.
“Minimize interactions with people who don’t live in your house to one or two persons who are essential to maintaining physical and mental health (e.g. caregivers, social supports to someone who lives alone),” said the mayor, repeating advice from public health.
“This means you should avoid in-person social interactions with friends, with co-workers when not at work, and with extended family. When dining at restaurants, going to the movies, or partaking in other social activities, you should limit it to your household members.”
After experiencing relatively few cases over the summer and early fall, the Sudbury area has seen a dramatic increase in infections, with 80 new cases announced over the past two weeks.
Of those, 73 occurred among residents of the city itself, with the remainder in communities outside Sudbury that are covered by Public Health Sudbury and Districts.
As a result, Greater Sudbury was pushed up into a new category of concern, as colour-coded by the province.
“As we have learned from the medical officer of health, Greater Sudbury has been moved into ‘Yellow – Protect’ as our case load has increased dramatically over the last week,” said Bigger.
“It is imperative that we all follow this direction from the experts in public health. As we have all seen on the news, the projections for the spread of a second wave are very real and very much cause for worry.”
When COVID-19 first appeared in the community in March, “we all collectively sacrificed to ensure we kept our seniors, children and the medically vulnerable as safe as possible,” said the mayor.
With a second wave now upon us, the community needs take immediate steps to “get ahead of any possible increased transmission,” said Bigger.
The mayor echoed an appeal from the health unit to heed the following advice:
■ Limit travel outside the home to the following:
• Attending school or work. Work from home if possible.
• Essential trips for groceries, medication, and medical appointments.
■ Limit in-person social interactions to people within your household.
■ Minimize interactions with people who don’t live in your house and one or two persons who are essential to maintaining physical and mental health (e.g. caregivers, social supports to someone who lives alone). This means you should avoid in-person social interactions with friends, with co-workers when not at work, and with extended family. When dining at restaurants, going to the movies, or partaking in other social activities, you should limit it to your household members.
■ Stay home if you have any symptoms of illness, however mild. While it is cold season now and many of us are used to mild infections at this time of year, a mild illness could be COVID-19 and may be much more severe for someone else who might catch it from us. Complete the Ministry of Health COVID-19 self-assessment tool or contact a local testing and assessment centre to determine if you should be tested for COIVD-19. By staying home if sick, we protect everyone else in our community.
■ Wear a face covering if you need to be closer than two (2) metres from someone outside your home during essential trips. Being in close contact with people presents the greatest risk of transmitting COVID-19, along with being in closed or crowded spaces. In Ontario, you must use a face covering (Government of Ontario) in public indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing is a challenge unless there is an exemption.
■ Wash or sanitize your hands often, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
■ Limit exercise and recreation to outdoor spaces where physical distancing is possible.
■ Avoid travel outside of our area, especially to areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, unless for emergencies or urgent medical appointments.
“It will be ultimately up to each of us how this virus spreads,” said Bigger. “I have aging parents and young grandchildren — both who I am hoping to somehow see this Christmas. I am sure this is a situation most of us find ourselves in.”
The current COVID picture necessitates rethinking, the mayor said. “Reschedule that dinner with friends,” he suggested. “Take a jog by yourself instead of heading to the gym. If you feel sick — don’t go to school or work. Little things can add up — and I know we can do this.”
The community has proven in the past to be “strong, resilient and adaptable,” he said. “We showed our resolve in the spring and our summer was nearly COVID-free. We set the example for other communities in Canada to follow.”
Sudbury now has to “get back” to that place.
“We have a lot to look forward to, but we all need to be positive, make smart choices and choose the right path to get there,” he said. “Be safe and be smart, Greater Sudbury.”