Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
As the first wave of COVID-19 dwindles down for smaller municipalities, such as Chatham-Kent, some are left wondering if the pandemic is now the problem of denser cities.
As of Thursday, Chatham-Kent has only nine active cases of COVID-19 out of 144. The last positive case to date was confirmed on Monday, May 25.
The government of Ontario is sticking with a provincial approach to reopening, despite many regions doing well, and Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health agrees.
Dr. David Colby also said it is very confusing to have different rules for various jurisdictions but on the other hand, he did concede that the reality differs for each community and some restrictions might not be necessary.
“In many of the Northern Ontario jurisdictions, they’re having almost no cases of COVID-19. And these stringent closures and everything perhaps don’t make sense up there,” he said. “The province has not yet authorized a regional approach to that in a systematic way and I understand why.”
Colby said, hypothetically if it were possible, he would be very reluctant to undertake a regional approach for Chatham-Kent to reopen because neighbouring Windsor is considered a hot spot.
“The last thing I want are large numbers of people charging into Chatham-Kent. So, I would resist such a thing (regional approach). Even if it were permitted here, I think we need to look at this on a bigger basis, but my responsibility is here in Chatham-Kent.”
Local medical officers of health have the option of taking more-stringent controls in terms of opening strategies compared to what the province mandates, however, they cannot take a less-stringent approach.
Colby does not foresee any situation in which it would be possible to open up Chatham-Kent stores to locals only.
“It’s a tantalizing notion of Fortress Chatham-Kent, yet I don’t see checkpoints on the 401 at our borders.”
Colby said students will go back to school in September, with the hope, not belief, that everything will settle down by then. For those who were in the midst of planning weddings, fundraisers and other large events for the fall, when the pandemic hit, Colby said that it is still unclear what the fall months will look like and if those endeavours will be able to go on.
When asked if an individual, previously infected with COVID-19 can contract the virus twice, Colby said they do not know the answer to that yet. However, based on data from other strains of coronavirus, immunity lasts for several months after infestation and builds a robust immune response.