We’ve had some good news from the Ontario government – and locally – about the COVID-19 situation. Premier Doug Ford told us this week that health experts say the outbreak has likely peaked in Ontario. The modelling, released this past Monday, showed things such as staying home and physical distancing – along with the work of our frontline health care providers – is working to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.

Here’s what we know. The wave of new community-spread cases appears to have peaked and Ontario is trending toward a best-case scenario rather than a worst-case scenario. We are in considerably better shape than the March modelling.

However, we also know several hundred new cases are identified daily in Ontario although the rate of growth day-over-day is declining. Hospitals have not been overwhelmed as a result of capacity planning and the public health measures currently in place.

Dr. Norm Bottum tells us in today’s Highlander that we’re somewhat lucky to have had only seven cases locally since we know people travelled during March break, have returned from wintering in Florida, and are coming to the cottage.

He attributes it to people following health protocols, and preventative measures at Haliburton Highlands Health Services.

But, he is worried about what will happen next month when cottagers traditionally return for the summer season to our County. Across the province, there also remains a real worry over outbreaks at long-term care homes and other facilities where large groups of people live.

So, rather than looking upon this week’s news as permission to ease up on handwashing, or going out to do some non-essential shopping, or over to the neighbour’s for that long overdue beer, view it as affirmation that you are on the right track.

All of us still need to stay home unless absolutely necessary for essential trips, such as accessing health care services, groceries, picking up prescriptions or supporting vulnerable community members with meeting essential needs.

If you must leave home, continue to go alone and stay at least two metres apart from others.

Yes, it’s going to get harder and harder as the temperatures warm up. And, yes, it’s going to become ever so more tempting for cottagers to return. However, we must all continue to stay the course so the good news keeps coming. The last thing we need is May modelling saying we have gone backwards, that a second peak is upon us and a worst-case scenario now looms. We’d hate to see a second wave that could ruin summer.

The public is further reminded that Ontario has made improvements to its COVID-19 self-assessment tool by expanding its symptom list, addressing the most high-risk individuals, and making it more accessible and responsive.

If you have any suspicion at all that you have been infected, get yourself tested.

Don’t be complacent at the first sign of good news. Continue to protect your health by washing your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, sneeze and cough into your sleeves, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and avoid contact with people who are sick. Stay home if you are sick.

After all, it will be slow and steady that wins this race not fast and reckless.

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