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Collingwood General and Marine Hospital and its Foundation are supporting the announcement made by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), in which the Public will be required to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces in Simcoe Muskoka, by launching a public awareness campaign to educate residents and visitors to the South Georgian Bay region about the importance of wearing face masks in public, when physical distancing is not possible.

The “Wear a Mask – Protect Your Community” Campaign has been launched in partnership with the local municipalities served by CGMH and will be featured on social media, outdoor, print and radio to cover the entire South Georgian Bay area.

Dr. Mark Quigg, Infection Control Lead at CGMH commented, “Although for now official infection rates are currently low in South Georgian Bay we can’t assume that COVID-19 is not lingering in our community since studies have indicated that the number of asymptomatic and very mild cases that don’t come to medical attention can be on the order of 10 times higher. Widespread use of masks in public places, especially indoors, can reduce the transmission rate of the COVID-19 virus by 85%. “

Health Canada promotes masks as a part of a comprehensive package of measures to suppress transmission of COVID-19 and save lives.

The other key actions include:

• Practice appropriate physical distancing of 2 meters (6 feet)

• Frequent hand washing/ cleaning with either soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer

“To help protect our community now and from a second wave of COVID-19 which we expect in the fall, we are encouraging everyone to wear masks,” says Dr. Quigg. “Given that it reduces COVID transmission rates by 85%, universal masking is the quickest way to get as close to normal life as possible until a vaccine is available.”

Local municipalities, BIA’s and Chambers of Commerce have been working diligently with local businesses to assist them in obtaining appropriate personal protective equipment to run their businesses safely while protecting their customers. Plexiglas, hand sanitizer and limiting the number of people allowed into the business are important public health measures but business owners and their employees who also wear masks provide an extra layer of protection for their customers and themselves.

“Non-medical masks are now in good supply,” says Dr. Michael Lisi, CGMH Chief of Staff. “Disposable masks can be purchased at reasonable prices in many stores. Fabric masks can be ordered on line or easily made at home. Non-medical grade masks have also been provided to local food banks for distribution. Other than very young children, unless individuals have a unique medical issue, there is no reason why the vast majority of our residents and visitors cannot have access to and wear a mask.”

Masks are not mandated when people from the same household are together. They are also not required outdoors where appropriate physical distancing can be practiced.

Dr. Quigg reminds the public, “COVID-19 can be spread by the up to 35% of infected individuals who have no symptoms. It’s impossible to know who can infect you. Universal masking is one way to ensure that you are not infecting others AND that those who take the responsibility to mask themselves will not infect you. Together, we can protect our entire community.”

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