COVID-19 messaging getting mixed as virus evolves
ARNPRIOR -- For months, we’ve been told what we should and should not do to keep ourselves and everyone around us safe from COVID-19. But as the virus has evolved over the last days, weeks, and months, so have the rules and messaging from public health officials.
“If you’re six feet away or more from an individual, you don’t have to wear a mask,” say Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.
“I think more is better. I mean, if you’re on a busy city street, wear a mask,” is the message from Dr. Robert Cushman, Acting Medical Officer of Health in Renfrew County.
The root of the message is the same; wear a mask. But there are notable differences in the message between two different health units.
“It’s a little confusing but it changes every day,” says Susan Campbell, who was heading into the local mall in Arnprior. “You know, this is good today, but it’s not good tomorrow.”
Dr. Roumeliotis says the rules can differ based on wear you live. “That’s why the people might be confused, but it has to do with the level of infection in the area.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, while everything happening was new, it was also relatively straightforward. Dr. Cushman says now, everything isn’t so black and white.
“The bar was too high. This notion that if your eight-year-old at school has sniffles that you all have to stay home and self-isolate and get tested.”
Much of the confusion revolves around testing which changes based on where you live as well.
“Like in Ottawa, if you have a child for example that is sick and is getting tested, and you’re not sick yourself, you should likely be staying home until things clarify,” says Dr. Roumeliotis.
But Monday, Kingston’s public health unit tweeted out this to students: “Asymptomatic housemates or siblings of symptomatic students or staff do not need to go for testing and may continue to attend school while monitoring for symptoms - as long as the symptomatic individual is seeking testing or waiting for test results.”
They are messages that can easily get mistaken or confused out of context.
“Unfortunately, it gets confusing for us too with all the changes and recommendations coming out of Toronto,” says Dr. Cushman. “I think that the public health measures and advice is pretty simple. I just think we’re tired.”