The City has been working with and supporting Algoma Public Health from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to recognize the entire team at Algoma Public Health for their professionalism, leadership and dedication. I also want to recognize the team at the Sault Area Hospital which is providing critical care to our community and, while doing so, preparing for a potential surge in demand for their service. In the same manner, we have health care providers across our community from the Group Health Centre to family health teams, who serve it capably and professionally day after day. Thank you to all of them.
COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, our province has declared a state of emergency and we know the virus is in the Algoma region. Our businesses, large and small, are facing a period of unprecedented interruption and our economy at large is subject to significant risk.
This is understandably a period of uncertainty and concern for our community and each of us. I recognize that people are worried about a lot of things: their health, the health of their loved ones, their jobs or businesses, their supply of food and essential items. In the context of all of the information we are receiving, this anxiety is natural and understandable. While we can be rightfully concerned about the economic consequences of the pandemic responses, it is apparent we have to stay focused in the short term on the primary goal of maintaining our essential services while arresting the spread of the virus.
In that respect, the municipality is focused on our ability to maintain critical services and infrastructure and we are fully committed to doing so. We have assessed our current staffing, our potential staffing challenges and our business continuity planning in the context of those challenges. Our police chief, fire chief, paramedic chief, the PUC and city leadership are all focused on keeping their workforces healthy to keep our community safe.
I can also assure you that your community leaders are working together and that the COVID-19 pandemic is our only priority. We will continue to communicate with one another, support one another and listen to the advice of our public health professionals.
However, this is not a challenge that can be overcome by the leadership and the organizations in our community alone. Every single person in our community has a role to play in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Our community needs each of us, every single one of us, to effectively limit the spread of this virus in our community. All of us have to care, be engaged and do what we can.
First off, we all need to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Learn about COVID-19 and its symptoms at: algomapublichealth.com/COVID-19
If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms: avoid gatherings and social events, practice social distancing and limit your close contact to your immediate family.
If you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms: self-monitor for 14 days, track how you feel, track your symptoms and take your temperature.
If you feel you have COVID-19 symptoms: you need to self-isolate. If you are self-isolating, you should seek clinical assessment over the phone through telehealth Ontario or by calling your primary care provider.
If you are over 70, are immunocompromised or have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days, you need to self-isolate for 14 days. A number of Saultites have or are in the process of returning from vacation or the United States. All of these people need to self-isolate. If you have family members or friends in this group, you need to tell them to self-isolate.
To put it simply, if you have been out of the country or you have symptoms, stay home. If you do not have symptoms and you do not need to leave your house, stay home. For your own health, the health of your family and your friends, the health of our community at large, stay home.
It is critically important that we all follow these guidelines. If we do so, we give ourselves and our community the best opportunity to minimize the spread and impact of COVID-19 in Sault Ste. Marie.
I want to end by recognizing that we are fortunate to live in a caring community, and many people – whether it be in a professional or personal capacity – are doing what they can to help others. Many people who are at the greatest risk have less social support, may be disadvantaged, elderly or less mobile. While we look out and care for the needs of those closest to us, we need to be mindful of others who may not be as fortunate. Help where you can.
This is undoubtedly a serious and challenging situation, but I am categorically confident that we have the collective ability to meet it, rise above it and move past it. We will continue to work together and by doing so we will manage through this together.