Community Cluster of COVID Cases in Tobermory

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By John Francis, Bruce Peninsula Press

Five months ago, at the end of October, 2021, there had been a total of 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula. That was a total of 16 cases spaced over 20 months. The total for Grey-Bruce at that point was 2,404, with 23 fatalities among Grey-Bruce residents as of late October.

The Omicron variant changed all that.

The more contagious virus has become so pervasive in Grey-Bruce that meaningful case numbers are no longer possible. The number of fatalities among Grey-Bruce residents has more than doubled since last fall but the number of hospitalizations, while increased, has remained quite manageable.

Then the gathering limits came off, beginning in February. With masking no longer required, COVID is having quite a heyday in MNBP, especially Tobermory. At this writing, there are dozens — probably hundreds — of people sick with COVID.

Rapid Antigen Testing allows people to determine that they have COVID, but there is no protocol in place to gather data. As a result, Public Health officials do not know exactly how many people are sick at any given time, only how many are in hospital.

Grey-Bruce Public Health confirms that there is a “community cluster” of COVID cases at Tobermory. 

There is no indication of increased hospitalization at this point, but personal reports indicate there are a slew of people testing positive.

This has resulted in a lot of closures and cancellations. Tobermory Legion is closed for the rest of March; check their Facebook page for opening dates in April. Tobermory United/St Edmunds Anglican Church is closed for the rest of March. Tobermory Brewing Company (“the brew pub”) is closed until Thursday, March 31.

Peacock’s Grocery is open, but they are asking anyone with symptoms to please stay home. Get someone else to shop for you, or email your order in (fld7185tobermory@sobeys.com) and it will be delivered to your car in the parking lot. Rick Peacock jr says he has noticed a lot of people shopping for friends or relatives who have tested positive. Staffing the store has not been a problem yet — no more than one or two staff have been away on any given day.

The following statement from Dr Ian Arra, Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health was received March 28th:

“The Grey Bruce Health Unit is aware of community concern about an increase in COVID-19 cases in Northern Bruce Peninsula.

There is current transmission of Omicron in all municipalities in Grey Bruce and across the province. There is still risk of transmission in our communities. Although public safety measures have been lifted, there is a potential for some increase in transmission in the weeks to come, especially while spending more time indoors in colder weather and on occasions like March Break, St. Patrick’s Day and Statutory Holidays.

 As per the current provincial guidance, local public health is focusing on the management of cases and contacts in high-risk sectors, which include hospitals, first responders and congregate settings. Our team follows up with community cases if they work, or household members work, at one of the high-risk sectors.

 Our team is monitoring the local epidemiology and will continue to respond according to local health need.

 Community cases not related to the high-risk sectors should be managed by the individual cases themselves. Resources are available on our website and the provincial government website.

It is important for everyone to remain vigilant if they decided to attend social gatherings. During social gatherings, wearing a mask, physical distancing, and handwashing (or the application of alcohol hand rub) are relatively simple ways to help reduce risk. Public health also advises people who are eligible to receive a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine do so. Self-isolating when ill is still required to prevent the virus from spreading to others.

 We urge the community to be mindful that the risk of infection and severe disease is greater for some individuals than others, including those who are immune-compromised, those with underlying health conditions, and older adults.

Dr. Ian Arra, MD MSc FRCPC ACPM ABPM

Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer

Click here for The Peninsula Family Health Team’s message addressing the current spike in local Covid-19 cases.