The provincial government announced the current stage of reopening will be a reality for the time being.
Rising case counts were given as the reason for the decision. Sunday there were 511 new cases reported, the fifth straight day this number has topped 500.
Ontario is still enjoying a much higher level of activities than were allowed under prior lockdowns. But local officials say things could go backwards if we don’t do our part.
“All options are on the table,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby about future restrictions and even another lockdown if an anticipated fourth wave hits the province this fall. “The way to prevent that is to get our vaccination numbers up… Nobody wants another lockdown obviously.”
“Our fate is in our hands,” says Mayor Darrin Canniff. “We’re still having this discussion right now because we still have 30 something per cent of the population of Chatham-Kent not vaccinated.”
“We need more people to step up… I cannot imagine another lockdown. We’ve been through them and when the solution is in our hands it really hurts even to think about having to do that again.”
Like the rest of the province Chatham-Kent endured varying levels of restrictions since the pandemic hit March 2020, ranging from the opening of only essential stores to today’s loosened restrictions. While the province has been reluctant to enforce stricter measures, it has come to that several times so far.
“We’ve had three waves already, we’ve seen what the provincial government had to do in terms of restrictions in order to maintain public health and safety,” says CAO Don Shropshire. “You’d expect that we’d be having to revisit those if the same conditions reappeared. So we want to do everything we can and everything that we need to do to help us to encourage people to get vaccinated.”
Colby says the telling factor will likely be hospitalizations. There’s 143 people in hospital with COVID Sunday, 58 of them in ICU.
“The trigger would be if the ICUs and hospitals get overloaded again. Then you’re going to see extreme measures being pulled out because we can’t have that,” he says.
“We’ve got to be preventative as far as that goes. And the solution is right in front of us,” says Colby of vaccines.
By: Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter