Impact of one positive COVID-19 case

Dr. Robert Cushman, Acting Medical Officer of Health for Renfrew County and District (RAD), provided a sobering example in his Winter Update on YouTube on November 23. Using the graphic above, he explained how a single positive case of COVID-19 affected nearly two hundred people in RAD. (Above image: Dr. Cushman, YouTube)

First, he acknowledged we are in the Second Wave of COVID-19 and he explained the colour-coded levels assigned to Ontario health units. Cushman congratulated RAD residents for the vigilance that means there is a Green (Prevent) Level currently in place here. He gave a stark warning about the importance of distancing, wearing a mask and proper hand sanitation. Referring to the list of symptoms, he encouraged residents to follow RCDHU advice seriously. Cushman stressed that if you have been told you are a contact, you must self-isolate, saying “Section 22 Orders are in place. This means we can require you to self-isolate and we can use the law to ensure you do.”

Cushman used the graphic at top to illustrate the example of contact spread of COVID that resulted in an outbreak in Renfrew several weeks ago. Here’s how it happened:

  • One person came into RAD by car to work one day per week.
  • Infected six people in the workplace.
  • Those six took it home and infected another six people.
  • Eventually it got into schools and into other social gatherings.

Cushman said, “What we had here, we had 18 people that tested positive; we had nearly 200 people that had to isolate and be tested.” He highlighted the loss of time and inconvenience that resulted, saying the workplace outbreak disrupted work activities and two schools ended up with outbreaks. Not only was it an enormous loss of time for almost 200 people and 18 cases, it had a major impact on the work of the Health Unit in terms of the amount of work they had to do to aggressively follow up and do contact tracing.

Cushman summed up, “This is what happens with COVID and why it is extremely important to maintain your bubble, and keep it to your household and a bare minimum of contacts at work and school.” He repeatedly emphasized the importance of distancing and wearing masks when indoors and insisted residents follow proper hygiene requirements.

Any symptom is COVID until proven otherwise

Cushman’s advice is clear: “This disease has a variety of symptoms. If you have anything from a runny nose, to a cold, cough or diarrhoea, fever or weakness — it’s COVID until proven otherwise. It might not be COVID but we can’t afford to take a chance. Please do not ignore any symptoms. Phone RC VTAC and get tested. It is inexcusable for you to bring a sore throat, runny nose or fever into a workplace or school.”

More information available from Renfrew County and District Health Unit website:

To make an appointment for a COVID-19 test, call 1-844-727-6404

Editor’s Note: This article was amended on Nov.26 to describe the Green Level as Prevent and not Prevent/Protect. We apologize for any confusion.

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