The COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving.
While there are no confirmed positive cases in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit area, Sudbury has two. For that reason, West Nipissing Mayor Joanne Savage says community leaders are working on an always-changing plan.
“I want to ensure residents that all efforts are being done to protect them and to make sure our people remain safe,” she said. “I want to thank council and all our staff for making decisions very quickly and being proactive in shutting down all public facilities as of Monday, even before being advised by our health professionals or before the province enacted the declaration of emergency.”
“It’s very critical at this point that communication and reliable sources are shared amongst our residents and that they are relying on this information,” Savage continued. “I have to stress that changes are happening so rapidly that you may see a directive that comes in and is shared in the morning, but could change in the afternoon.”
A big push towards figuring out what other measures to put in place happened on Wednesday as a group came together to meet as an Emergency Control Group.
“All the stakeholders of our community, health agencies, and all the professionals that are part of the community such as fire, police, hospital and health unit so we can be proactive in being able to react to put the strategy and measures in place that will be required when the need occurs,” Savage explained.
The first meeting was all about figuring out who was going to do what if the situation escalates.
“We are making sure the emergency preparedness plan is ready to go and ready to react,” she said. “We are being proactive and we want to keep our community and people safe and protect the well-being of everyone.”
Savage also participated in a conference call initiated by Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and included the Minister of Health, Christine Elliot, and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“They shared a lot of information to mayors across the province,” Savage stated. “What was retained from that conference call is that 92 per cent of cases reported were from individuals that travelled abroad. There are a lot of concerns of individuals in the community not respecting these guidelines.”
“It is so critical that people self-isolate for 14 days,” she continued. “We need to realize that if this is not being done, we are at a higher risk of spreading COVID-19 to either our loved ones, family and friends. People in West Nipissing have been so receptive that I refer to them as heroes because they have stepped up to the plate and assist anyone that’s in need.”
As for services, Savage says they are doing everything they can to not disrupt the day to day activities.
“It’s so important that people realize that we care,” she said. “Our municipal staff cares, they are doing everything they can to maintain the operations and make sure services are still provided pertaining to roads, water and sewer, and garbage pick-ups.”
“We have shut down Town Hall to visitors,” Savage added. “Anyone that does need to go to Town Hall needs to enter from the back entrance where West Nipissing Police was located. There’s a lobby there with a window that controls contact with individuals. Council has also enacted a deferral for the first installment of taxes and people will not be penalized.”
Aside from all of these precautions, Savage says the responsibility to limit the spread of COVID-19 is on the individual.
“I as Mayor, and all of council, urge our residents to play an active role,” she said. “They also have a responsibility in making sure they adhere to the guidelines. I strongly recommend that everyone stays well informed and well educated.”
“If we want to keep our area low-risk, it is critical we don’t panic and remain calm,” Savage continued. “Adhere to the guidelines that are being shared by our medical officials.”