Information please

By Jenn Watt

W e now know for sure that the coronavirus is present in the Haliburton County community. For weeks we have watched as our neighbouring towns reported cases but it wasn't until Wednesday afternoon that we had confirmation that the virus was also within the boundaries of our community.

We send well wishes to the man who was diagnosed with COVID-19 who is recovering at home and our thanks go out to the medical community that is helping him and working to test his contacts to see who else may need to take steps to protect themselves and others.

It's important that we know local statistics as quickly as possible because it helps make real what has up until now been an abstract threat. It is one thing to read about the coronavirus elsewhere it is something altogether different to know it is affecting those we know personally.

Last week local health-care providers opened a COVID-19 assessment centre outside the medical centre in Haliburton and so far have seen more than 30 people. Test swabs have been administered for most of those people.

On Monday we learned a second person has tested positive for the virus.

It's important that numbers continue to be provided to the community in a timely fashion. Numbers can help us understand where more cases might be found who should be strictly self-isolating and what measures should be taken to further divide people physically to limit the spread.

Premier Doug Ford's decision last week to release projections for infections and deaths in Ontario is a case in point. By staying the course modelling suggests 1600 people could die in our province by the end of April. I personally know several people who have changed their behaviour directly as a response to that data becoming even more diligent about staying away from others.

Although the health unit's website has been carrying some statistics for the region timely information has been released slowly – likely because of the sheer volume of cases and associated work. Perhaps locally Haliburton Highlands Health Services could take over that role updating a tally online so we have a better sense of where we stand as a community and what our health-care workers are dealing with.

The HHHS team has already done an admirable job in a short period of time on which features clear useful information on the coronavirus and local testing as well as community resources such as food delivery assistance and mental health supports.

Now that COVID-19 has been confirmed in our community fast and reliable information is more important than ever. We will need authorities to disclose as much information as quickly as possible so we as citizens can better do our part to lessen the spread of the virus.