Ontario To Decide “Close Future” Whether COVID-19 Closes Summer Night Camps

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Ontario’s chief medical officer of health promises a “near future” response to the plight of night summer camps, but industry sources say the light is likely out because of COVID-19.

“The season is approaching,” said Dr. David Williams on Friday, saying he knew parents needed information “in time to make decisions over the summer.”

“We hope to have something soon enough,” he said in a daily conference call where a “problem” that has resulted in an artificially low number of new COVID-19 cases has been reported, as infections and deaths continued to climb.

Meanwhile, the City of Toronto announced Friday that it is canceling all recreation camps and programs.

As the night camps require weeks to prepare their grounds and facilities for the summer, some have made the difficult decision to stay closed this year and others say it will not be as usual if they are allowed to to open.

“There are just too many known and unknown risks,” said Camp Manitou, near Parry Sound, in his latest blog post explaining why he stopped the season.

“Whether it be our infectious disease experts, our doctors, public health or our local medical officer of health, we are repeatedly told that camps are a booster to a degree that makes them an important vector for the transmission of the virus.”

Camp Ponacka on Lake Baptiste near Bancroft is leaning the same way, said director Don Bocking.

“This is hardly going to happen,” he told the Star. “You will hear a collective cry from parents, children and staff. “

Camp owner Glen Bernard in Sundridge, north of Huntsville, said it was difficult for the camps to plan how to function in the event of a pandemic.

“I hope to do something, but I will not be able to run the full Glen Bernard package,” said Jocelyn Palm. “I am waiting for more government decisions.”

The camps also raised concerns about possible government requirements for staff to wear personal protective equipment such as masks and face shields and to erect plastic barriers which would be difficult given the nature of the activities of the camp. camp.

There have also been concerns about what to do if the children test positive – would they be isolated immediately and sent home, or should a camp close?

The virus continues to spread daily, albeit at a slower rate than a few weeks ago.

A Star compilation of Ontario public health units at 5:00 p.m. Friday, 394 other confirmed and probable cases have been reported in the past 24 hours, for a total of 23,402 known infections since the start of the epidemic in January .

There were 24 additional deaths, bringing the balance sheet to 1926.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said a “technological problem” had resulted in the Department of Health officially counting 258 new COVID-19 cases announced Thursday as being artificially low in the provincial database and advertised as the lowest daily number since March 31.

“For some reason, 87 cases from the city of Toronto have not been downloaded,” she told reporters about the Star’s reported error Thursday, which informed the government after verifying a detailed breakdown and seen only 45 new cases in Toronto, much less. than usual.

“Although the number is not as good as we thought it was yesterday, it still is since the total number of cases yesterday was actually 345 and there are 341 today”, a added Elliott.

“We are still witnessing a gradual and slow downturn.”

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The Star keeps a separate count of COVID-19 cases and deaths from counts posted on the websites of 34 Ontario public health units. Since many health units publish counts on their websites before reporting to Public Health Ontario, the star rating is more current than the data the province publishes each morning at 4:00 p.m. deadline the day before.

The number of official cases in the province “does not match public health data,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

“The low number of tests and the summary reliability of the data increase the risk for everyone as we begin to relax the isolation measures. We need good, fast and accurate data to respond quickly in the coming weeks. “

Rob Ferguson
Ed tubb
Ed Tubb is a mission writer and crime and justice focused contributor to The Star. He is based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @edtubb

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