St. Marys: Heartache and hope after COVID-19 death
ST. MARYS, ONT. -- The town of St. Marys is mourning a loss, while at the same time showing a high level of community spirit.
Several sources have confirmed to CTV News that Perth County’s first COVID-19 death was the owner of Stonetown Foodland in St. Marys, Craig MacDonald.
“St. Marys is a tight-knit community, everybody knows who it was. He was a friendly gentleman and people knew him, and a big donor. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” says St. Marys Mayor Al Strathdee.
Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) confirms a 64-year-old man, who was the first case of COVID-19 in its district, is the man who passed away over the weekend.
It also confirms he had a travel history after spending time in Mexico.
The Foodland store continues to operate with HPPH stating the man self-isolated back on March 7. He entered hospital on March 12.
In response to questions from CTV News, an HPPH spokesperson stated, “If there was a greater community exposure we would let people know.”
Meanwhile, as St. Marys mourns, the community’s spirit has been lifted by the actions of many, but in particular, one man, Lyle Fisher.
Since March 16, at the infancy of the crisis, he’s been collecting groceries for seniors, those at risk, and overworked health care workers.
“Somebody’s got to do it,” he tells CTV News.
Using Facebook and his phone, Fisher or ‘Fish’ as he’s affectionately known to most, has picked up and delivered over 100 orders.
He says his first few trips convinced him of the need, while recent trips have demonstrated the worry of those now afraid to leave their homes.
“I’ve seen the faces behind the windows when I go to deliver. They don’t want to go out,” says Fisher.
Fisher, himself in his 60s, is aware he is putting himself at risk by performing his volunteer service. But he believes having too many others doing it would defeat the purpose.
Strathdee says while that’s true, he doesn’t want Fisher to take on the needs of the entire community much longer.
“Lyle Fisher is someone that’s full of energy and someone who would help anyone, give the shirt off his back. It’s fascinating to watch his response and how he’s touched so many people in the community.”
Strathdee says a new community response line has been set up to help people in the town with everything from groceries to mental health.
“Lyle kicked things off,” he says, but now he's hopeful residents will also turn to the new service.
The phone number is 519-284-3272. The original number provided to CTV was incorrect, it has now been updated.
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