Cornwall not getting the COVID-19 message: physical distancing, stay at home

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – While it appears that the region is “flattening up” the COVID-19 curve, the region’s medical officer of health is frustrated people in the City of Cornwall are still not getting the message about physical distancing and staying at home.

“We have been getting some concerns locally, particularly in the Cornwall area, people are going (unnecessarily) to grocery stores. We’ve had kids playing in parking lots, in playgrounds together. We need to ensure that individuals heed our warnings,” Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said in a conference call Wednesday.

The current number of positive COVID-19 cases in Cornwall, SD&G and Prescott-Russell but Roumeliotis believes “by the end of the day we’re probably going to have 50 cases.”

The doctor says the health unit has been “bombarded” with social media posts and emails about exact locations of cases within the health unit area.

“I can tell you it’s in dozens of places (in Cornwall, SD&G and Prescott-Russell), not just one, dozens of places, including Cornwall. Cornwall does have cases as well. The reason I’m hesitant to give exact details of where they are is because I don’t want people to be complacent. Towns are so close to each other, you know, if one little town doesn’t have it and the next door does, I don’t want that first town saying ‘well, we’re okay,’” he said.

In a “candid” comment on Facebook Live Thursday night, Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement wished the city numbers were public. “I wish those numbers could be released to show that it’s here. The more information data you have, the more people are going to be understanding of their obligations,” she said. But the mayor “respects the health unit’s process around this.”

Roumeliotis is also concerned about the upcoming Easter weekend, hoping people will just stay at home and not have a family get together. He says customers at grocery stores have been spotted buying “big turkeys and all kinds of things. Hopefully they’ll eat them at home and not have guests over.”

He says, based on their mapping of cases based on the day of onset of symptoms for the 47 infections so far, the region hit a peak in the middle of March.

“We are sort of flattening up. We had a bit of a peak (in the middle of March). Hopefully our peak is over but we can’t rely on that. We can’t just say, well, our peak is over. We still have some time to go over the next week or two until we kind of make sure we have collectively flattened that curve,” Roumeliotis said.

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