Dr. Moore urges the protection of most vulnerable as COVID-19 cases rise

Photo by Mika Baumeister.

Correction: During an interview, Dr. Moore said repeatedly that there were 39 active cases on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, however, KFL&A Public Health has since retracted that statement, as three cases were later declared resolved. There were actually 36 active cases at the end of the day on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.

As of Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, KFL&A Public Health is monitoring 39 active cases of COVID-19, as well as over 300 “high-risk contacts in the community.”

Speaking at a press conference on the same day, Dr. Kirean Moore, Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health, underlined the importance of protecting the most vulnerable populations in our community: the elderly, those with underlying health issues, and those less fortunate than others.

“We’ve been fortunate not to have to require hospitalizations to date, and minimal impact on the health sector,” Moore said. “I’m proud of how our community has protected our vulnerable and elderly, but the risk is higher now than it’s ever been in our community.”

In order to do this, those who are elderly or dealing with pre-existing health issues should remain at home whenever possible, for at least the next two to three weeks. By that time, Public Health will have a better understanding of how this wave of the pandemic has impacted the community, Moore said.

He also pointed to the expanded food, grocery, and medication delivery services available in our region as a means to help these populations self-isolate. Beyond that, he suggested family members and friends take over all shopping and delivering of necessities for those who should remain at home. Self-isolating means staying at home apart from essential trips, Moore said, such as medical appointments or hospital visits.

“I certainly want the older members of our community to stay connected, so use the phone, use social media if you know how, reach out, but to go out is an increased risk now. And the next couple of weeks will tell us how much an increased risk,” he said.

Moore also pointed to the large risk associated with travelling to and from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and urged community members to only do so for essential work or trips, such as medical appointments.

“I can tell you, our staff here and the lab and assessment centre are working full-out. We’re contacting as many individuals [as possible], providing advice to those that are high-risk personal contacts, and trying to limit the spread of this virus, but we can only do so much when other places in the province have such high risk and people continue to travel,” said Moore.

Having been out to monitor behaviour of those shopping, Moore said he noticed right away that there were those with difficulties walking or other ambulating issues.

“To me, that really has to stop. They shouldn’t be out in these public places,” he said, noting that he’d noticed seniors wearing masks improperly, as well.

“I don’t want them to have any false sense of security that a simple mask will protect them when they go into a box store that has a significant number of people in it. You can’t be assured that everyone is washing their hands [or] that there isn’t someone in that building that has early symptoms now, because of the risk going up in our community.”

Moore also spoke to another vulnerable population: Those who are less fortunate than others. He spoke of the number of workers who’ve expressed that they cannot afford to take time off work to isolate, and said that Public Health has dealt with cases involving those who are only partially housed, even noting that one patient was living in their car.

“We’re lucky we can call upon social supports. We’ve brought in our Addictions and Metal Health Team, who have supported housing some of these people,” he said, noting that those who are homeless or partially homed are more difficult to keep in touch and follow up with, as some don’t have their own phones.

“Our community, like usual, is supportive of those most vulnerable.”

He expressed that he “empathizes thoroughly” with those who have to make the decision between paying their bills or isolating for the protection of the community, and spoke highly of those employers he’s encountered who continue to pay their employees through isolation or quarantine periods.

“But I understand that not all employers can do this,” he noted. “It is a difficult time, now the virus is in a different demographic of individuals that, in some instances, have got to work to make a living. I know that’s stressful, but I am so happy that some of our social services and some of our businesses have stepped up to support them.”

But we all have a job to do in the current COVID-climate KFL&A is experiencing, and that job is, as Moore reiterated, to protect those who need protecting by being as proactive as possible – and, of course, remembering the things Public Health has been saying since March: Stay home whenever possible, frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing a mask when interacting with others.

“We will see more transmission, that is certain now,” Moore said.

“So my main message is to protect the most vulnerable to this virus.”

To read more of what Dr. Moore had to say on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, click here.

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