As Chatham-Kent moves into the “Red-Control” zone, civic and public health leaders are frustrated with people holding indoor gatherings.
According to the region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Colby, going into the Grey-Lockdown level of the provincial COVID-19 public health and safety measures and restrictions was a possibility because of the significant rise in case counts in the area caused by indoor gatherings.
Colby, Mayor Darrin Canniff, and Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire all agree that indoor gatherings have community consequences and show a lack of regard for others.
“We almost made it to single digits. We were doing so well,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health.
Colby has blamed many new cases on indoor gatherings, which are against public-health guidelines. He said many who attend parties have played dumb with public health investigators doing contact tracing, claiming not to know the other guests or even where the party was held.
“We’ve had less than full co-operation, and that is an understatement, let me tell you,” said Colby. “But it’s very important that people be forthcoming about these contacts so that we can get them isolated.”
Colby said he couldn’t believe a full year into the pandemic; this is still happening. He added every case could be traced back to a breakdown in protocols.
“I don’t know what more we can do if people choose to put their head in the sand,” said Colby. “People should know after a year that indoor gatherings are dangerous not just for you but for all of your contacts. I don’t believe the people who are doing this did not know they were doing something forbidden.”
Chatham-Kent’s chief administrative officer, Don Shropshire, said bylaw enforcement and police officers continue to look into infractions, but citizens need to help.
“We don’t have enough enforcement people to try and go around patrolling the entire community,” said Shropshire. “That’s like a dog chasing their tail. We really need our community to double down and say, ‘Hey, we’re getting it.’ We need to respect the guidelines. We’ve all got to be helping each other be compliant.”
Shropshire said he wonders how people can justify partying when their neighbours are dying.
“If somebody went to a party and they actually had to explain why they thought they had the right to do that to the people who lost a loved one or lost their business, I think it would be a very different consequence,” said Shropshire.
Mayor Canniff said he’s not happy some people are still ignoring the COVID-19 guidelines. He added that breaking the COVID-19 public health and safety rules has direct financial and mental health implications across the entire community.
“When a few community members go off and do this, it has repercussions right across the whole community,” said Canniff. “It’s very unfortunate that small businesses are going to be impacted because some people made decisions to have these parties.”
Municipal leaders said despite the recent jump in cases caused by indoor gatherings, they can’t forget the fact the vast majority of people in Chatham-Kent have complied with COVID-19 rules and applaud them.
As of Friday, March 19, Chatham-Kent Public Health reported 21 new cases and eight recoveries, increasing the active count in the region to 91.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News