COVID briefing from County of Renfrew on second wave

Staff Reporter

PEMBROKE – Faces were grim and the tone was serious as officials connected to Renfrew County, gave a public briefing on YouTube, on the morning of September 21.

The live broadcast had an initial audience of several hundred, much more than the county’s regular broadcasts receive.

The briefing was 27 minutes long and included statements from the Warden of the County of Renfrew, Debbie Robinson, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, MPP John Yakabuski, the Mayor of the City of Pembroke, Mike LeMay, Acting Medical Officer of Health, RCDHU, Dr. Robert Cushman, Clinical Coordinator, RCVTAC, Dr. Jonathan Fitzsimon, County Emergency Management Coordinator, Mr. Michael Nolan, and Pandemic Advisor, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, Brittany Martin.

Warden Robinson was the first to speak. She said a second wave of COVID is coming now, and that it is not the time to let up vigilance, despite fatigue.

We won the first round, she said, doing things the right way. Vigilance is imperative. The health and safety of your loved ones is in your hands. If you are sick, stay home.

Dr. Cushman was next to speak. He said that in the county, we have had more cases in September than we got in March. “What does this tell us?” he asked. It tells us two things: this is the second wave and we have COVID fatigue. If we don’t keep up the important safety measures, we will have to close our schools, shut down the economy, and our hospitals will be filled. Wash hands, wear masks, and keep up two-metre social distancing.

If you have symptoms, you have to isolate yourself and your family. This was the problem behind recent cases, Cushman concluded. He also added that our social bubbles are getting too big. Most people are doing things right. It is a small percentage of people who have to get with the program.

Minister Yakabuski spoke next. He said that we all predicted a second wave. When you are out and about, you can see the tiredness in people for practicing safety measures. But this is far from over. This is a “silent enemy that creeps up on you.” These numbers are very stark, he said.

If one person gets infected and does not isolate, it will spread. This is not advice, but an order, he said.

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