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‘We understand and share the frustration of many parents’: Klassen encouraging everyone to follow public health measures to help schools reopen

13 deaths now associated Caressant Care Listowel COVID-19 outbreak

HURON-PERTH – With the announcement of four more school districts returning to in-person learning on Monday, Dr. Miriam Klassen acknowledged Huron Perth students are not among them.

“We certainly recognize and share the frustration of many parents and caregivers,” said Huron Perth’s medical officer of health during a media briefing on Thursday.

“We agree we would also like to see families who choose in-person learning to be able to get their children back to school as soon as possible and the best way to get there right now is to continue to follow all public health measures and bring down our community rates. Not only will this help keep our vulnerable populations such as those in long-term care and retirement homes safe it will also help our schools succeed in opening and staying open.”

Caressant Care Listowel update

During the Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) media briefing, Klassen announced that the region has a cumulative total of 1,200 cases, 117 of which are active. There are currently six residents in hospital due to COVID-19 and there have been 39 deaths.

“Sadly, the last three deaths reported since our previous update are connected to the outbreak at Caressant Care, so a total of 13 deaths there since the outbreak was declared,” she said.

“Our thoughts do go out to the individuals’ family and loved ones and also our condolences to all the residents and staff at Caressant Care.”

One new case confirmed in a staff member bring the total to 43 cases among residents and 26 cases among staff in the long-term care side of Caressant Care. In the retirement home, there has also been a new staff case bringing the total to 30 residents and nine staff.

At Seaforth Manor in Huron East, there are currently 37 cases among residents and eight among staff.

Vaccine update

“We’re pleased to be able to confirm that we have completed … the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in all long-term care homes … and also residents of high-risk retirement homes,” said Klassen.

She emphasized that although supplies are limited right now, they do expect the vaccine supply to become more stable and predictable.

“There will be enough vaccine in Huron-Perth who wants to be vaccinated,” said Klassen.

“We do appreciate the patience of the community at this time as vaccination planning continues provincially and in Huron-Perth.”

Mental health

Klassen mentioned that Jan. 28 is #BellLetsTalk Day and she spoke of the importance of taking time to address mental health issues.

“I want to acknowledge how important it is to take steps for your mental health every day and that it is okay to ask for help,” she said.

“No-one is immune to distress. Those who are struggling with mental health or well-being can contact their healthcare provider or call the Huron-Perth health line at 1-888-829-7484.”

Trending in the right direction

Overall Klassen feels case counts are trending in the right direction in the region.

“Many of the cases continue to be directly related to our two outbreaks so in a small community a large outbreak can skew the data,” she said.

“I do feel that things are moving in the right direction and by that, I don’t want people to stop – we need to keep going and then they will continue to move in the right direction and hopefully our schools will be among the next to open.”

Klassen said she feels schools should be among the last things to close and the first things to open.

“I think that schools are the essential business of students and a very important one at that,” she said.

“However, our case rates, including among school-age people and staff were very high over the holidays … but again as I mentioned earlier that does seem to be shifting in the right direction.”

She does not want people to lose hope and give up.

“We all probably have better days and not so good days and hopefully we’re there to help one another to get through those times.”

Colin Burrowes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Listowel Banner. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.