Cornwall, SD&G, PR declare states of emergency over COVID-19

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

EASTERN ONTARIO – The five eastern Ontario counties and the City of Cornwall have collectively declared states of emergency to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The joint move was made official during a conference call with politicians and reporters on Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. All three municipalities fired out prepared news releases as the news conference began.

The move will give the municipalities additional powers and tools to protect the health and safety of residents, including the ability to sole source goods, bypass purchasing rules and redeploy staff as they see fit.

Many of the politicos on the call said the declaration is not meant to panic the public but for SD&G, Prescott-Russell and the City of Cornwall to be prepared.

There have been four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region – all in Prescott-Russell – and tests are pending for another 250 cases. Earlier this week, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis confirmed to Cornwall Newswatch that the virus was spreading from person to person in the region – not coming from people returning home from vacation.

Mayor Bernadette Clement says a “regional approach” to the declaration of emergency was best. “We decided together to declare together. This is how we’re going to beat this thing,” Clement said.

“The time is now to flatten this curve. To slow the spread of this virus,” the mayor said.

“We take this situation most serious and we’re doing everything is our power to keep people safe,” SD&G Warden Frank Prevost added.

Prevost says the declaration gives the county “the ability to take actions and make orders that are considered to be necessary” to protect the public.