Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington reached a tipping point on June 24 when an outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a Kingston based salon.
Just as fears of the virus were starting to dissipate, the communities that fall under this Public Health’s jurisdiction were given a stark wake up call. All the hard work that had gone into keeping COVID-19 out of this community for months seemed to be all for naught-until the masked hero showed up just in time. The hero wasn’t just one person, rather a community of heroes willing to don a mask to protect their family, friends and neighbours. Though credit is certainly due to KFLA minister of health Kieran Moore, who invoked a section 22 order on June 27, requiring face coverings be worn by everyone-save for a few medical exceptions-who entered an enclosed public area within the region.
The order was met with some grumblings, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Prior to the outbreak, this region hadn’t seen a positive case in over a month and the total number of cases was holding steady in the mid 60 range. Businesses were just starting to open and move into Stage 2 of the provincial government’s economy restart plan when the outbreak happened. As KFLA Public Health called for more testing, the amount of cases continued to rise seemingly daily, adding another 40 or so cases to the total, climbing to 105 before it was contained. In the last week the number of active cases has continued to decline to single digits while the number of new positive cases has ground to a halt. Complaints that masks are uncomfortable, awkward or off-putting are all accurate-most people would rather not wear them.
But the fact they save lives trumps any mild inconvenience they may cause. There are some who continue to argue the order, saying wearing a mask infringes on their personal freedoms. They’d rather risk contracting or spreading a potentially deadly virus than to suffer through the gruelling ordeal having to shop with a face covering. Fortunately, those people remain in the minority and policy makers continue to rely on science for guidance when designing best practices. Even U.S. president Donald Trump, a noted opponent of mandatory masks in public, was spotted wearing a one for the first time on Sunday.
Since KFLA adopted the order, several other surrounding communities such as Ottawa, Durham Region, Hastings-Prince Edward County and Toronto to name a few, have followed suit. On Monday, the province of Ontario took steps towards moving into Stage 3 of re-opening. For context, in the state of Florida, where wearing a mask continues to remain optional, they’re seeing record number of positive cases-as high as 15,000 people-per day. As Reuters has pointed out, that places them behind only the rest of the U.S., Brazil and India in terms of new cases per day.
Suddenly wearing a mask doesn’t seem so like such a burden.