Town reports single member of staff contracts COVID-19

October 22, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

A Town of Orangeville employee has tested positive for COVID-19. 

In a release to media this week, the municipality confirmed that an individual who “does not generally have contact with the public” is self-isolating after contracting the novel coronavirus. The positive test was reported to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) on Tuesday. 

The news comes as Ontario reported 821 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday – the second highest total since the resurgence of the virus in late August. Municipal officials have moved quickly to reassure the public that this is considered to be an isolated case, with no other staff members showing symptoms.

“The Town is providing support as needed. The employee was predominantly working from home and followed protocols in place while in the workforce,” a Town media release states. “The area where the staff member worked has been deep cleaned. The Town extends its best wishes to the employee and hopes for a speedy recovery.”

This is the latest in an increasing number of recent high-profile cases of COVID-19 within the local community. Over the past couple of weeks, officials at Montgomery Village Public School (MVPS), St. Peter Elementary School and Princess Elizabeth Public School (PEPS) have reported outbreaks. 

Three classrooms at PEPS were closed at the end of September following confirmation of two positive COVID-19 cases within the institution. Last Thursday (Oct. 15), it was revealed that two cases of COVID-19 had been reported at MVPS, but that no classrooms had been closed. The school’s principal Brent Ellery informed media that a subsequent investigation by WDGPH determined that the positive cases do not create any risk to other students, or the public. 

News of the outbreak at MVPS followed an earlier announcement, on Oct. 11, that an entire classroom at St. Peter Elementary was isolating at home after an individual tested positive for COVID-19. Students from the class will be taught online through to the end of this week, when their self-isolation period will end. 

Many schools across Dufferin County have been hit with outbreaks since students returned to school in early September. Positive cases have also been reported at St. Benedict Elementary School in Orangeville and Glenbrook Elementary School in Shelburne. 

There was further concern this week after County officials confirmed a second outbreak at Dufferin Oaks long-term care facility in Shelburne. Brenda Wagner, Administrator at Dufferin Oaks, has informed the Citizen that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 last Friday (Oct. 16). The individual has not been on-site at the local care home since Oct. 13, and, as of press time, Ms. Wagner reported that no other staff or resident have tested positive for the virus. 

The first initial outbreak at the facility, reported on March 31, saw ten individuals test positive for COVID-19 – six of them being members of staff, and four residents. Two residents passed away before the outbreak was declared over on May 13. 

In a letter distributed to owners and operators of long-term care and retirement homes within Dufferin County, Wellington County and Guelph this week, Dr. Nicola Mercer, chief medical officer for WDGPH, provided directions to keep residents safe during the second wave of COVID-19. 

She has called for several changes that will impact operations at the facility over the comings weeks, including restricting visitation to one general visitor and one essential visit per resident. Dr. Mercer is also asking that homes reduce the number of outdoor off-facility trips, focusing only on medical appointments, compassionate situations and other essential purposes, and move all facility tours to a virtual format. 

“Our long-term care and retirement homes are important, supportive environments and we must do all we can to support them,” Dr. Mercer said. “In providing these new directions, my goal is to protect one of our most vulnerable populations by limiting exposure to COVID-19 as much as possible, while ensuring residents can still access essential services in the community, get the care they need from families and caregivers and maintain emotional and physical wellbeing.” 

As of press time, there have been 66,686 total cases of COVID-19 across Ontario, with around 6,300 of those considered to be active. There have been 3,062 deaths since the pandemic reached Canadian shores in March. There are currently 48 active cases of COVID-19 in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, with 19 of those here I Dufferin County. 

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