After quiet stretch, COVID-19 makes comeback in Elgin County
ST. THOMAS, ONT. -- For the first time since April, St. Thomas has a hospitalization due to COVID-19.
Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) is reporting one person in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.
After dipping down to zero ongoing positive cases in Elgin County just six days ago, a recent uptick now has five current positives in St. Thomas, two in Bayham, and one in Malahide.
"When we went to Stage 2, and now Stage 3, we expected our case numbers to increase," says Dr. Joyce Lock, medical officer of health for SWPH.
"This was expected because when we open up, we interact more in different ways and then the risk of transmission also goes up."
The cases range in age from teenagers to people in their 50s.
Lock said the source of infection has not been traced in all cases, though it is often from close contact with a friend or family member.
Elgin County is known for its recreation and wide open spaces, so there is more room for distancing in a rural setting.
There was a lot of concern initially that opening the beaches in Elgin County would lead to a rise in positive cases, with people coming from around the province, but that hasn't happened.
"We have seen people cooperating by staying in their social circles,“ says Lock. "The other reason is that it is safer outdoors. We recommend that If you are going to be indoors, do pick up that mask."
And while many other municipalities in the region have gone to mandatory masks, it hasn’t happened yet in Elgin.
St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston there has been ongoing discussion with other municipalities about masks.
He says they are worried about going indoors, like schools in the fall, but as of now are pleased with the case numbers in the area.
Preston says they could make a bylaw at the municipal level, but he doesn't want to take a stance and speak before Lock gives her medical opinion and a plan to keep people safe.
Still during his mayoral update Tuesday he did advise people to cover up.
"We're still asking if you are out and about in stores, wear a mask," Preston said on Facebook.
Lock says she wants to avoid a step backwards, and with the recent rise in cases, is looking more seriously at a mask bylaw.
"I know it's not fun and it's not always that comfortable but everyone should step up and buy a mask," says Lock.
"The recent increase in case numbers has me more concerned. I am in active discussion with our municipal partners, and if this continues we will be rolling this out."