If you think you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are concerned that you have been exposed, please call the THU COVID-19 line for additional screening and testing arrangements if applicable.

 705-647-4305, Ext. 7  |  1-866-747-4305, Ext. 7

Monday to Friday - 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.   |   Saturday and Sunday - 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. 

Your local Regional Assessment Center (RAC) can also be contacted directly for testing.
(Booked appointment basis only)

Temiskaming Shores and area Regional Assessment Center – 705-648-1844
Englehart and area Regional Assessment Center – 705-568-2127
Kirkland Lake and area Regional Assessment Center – 705-568-2127

On this page:

  1. Current situation in Timiskaming
    1. Epidemiology Update
  2. Wearing a Mask or Face Covering
    1. Frequently Asked Questions in Timiskaming 
    2. Masks - Resources
    3. Local handmade masks 
    4. How do I properly wear a face covering? 
  3. Services at THU
    1.  Immunization/Vaccines for School-aged Children (during COVID-19)
  4. What THU is doing to respond to COVID-19
  5. When should you call THU? (Symptoms) 
  6. Reopening Timiskaming
    1. Be COVID-Smart
    2. Personal Service Settings
    3. Religious Services, Rites or Ceremonies
    4. Fitness Facilities, and Resuming Group Fitness & Personal Training
    5. Hosting a Gathering 
  7. Travel outside of Timiskaming 
  8. Transportation guidance for taxi services, volunteer drivers, and passengers 
  9. Physical Distancing 
  10. Safer Participation
  11. Information for individuals and families
    1. What is Contact Tracing?
    2. How to self-isolate
    3. How to self-monitor
    4. Self-isolation guide for caregivers
    5. What is physical (social) distancing?
    6. 30 Days of Outdoor Play Challenge 
    7. Outdoor Physical Activity 
  12. Indigenous Peoples and COVID-19 
  13. Food security for Timiskaming communities
  14. Community Supports 
  15. Mental Health and COVID-19
  16. COVID-19, Alcohol and Cannabis Use  
  17. Personal Protective Equipment
    1. Wearing a Mask
    2. Masks - Questions and Answers 
  18. Information for municipalities
  19. Allotment and Community Gardens
  20. Information for employers
    1. Ontario resources to and prevent COVID-19 in the workplace 
  21. Information for childcare
  22. Short-term Rentals, Cabins and Cottages
  23. Information for Smokers and Tobacco Users
  24. Timiskaming Connections Volunteer Line 
  25. Credible sources for information

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Learn about how the Ontario Ministry of Health is preparing for the 2019 novel coronavirus in Ontario. Find out how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick after you travel and how to recognize possible symptoms.

Get Information from Ontario Ministry of Health  

 

Current Situation in Timiskaming

Timiskaming Health Unit is actively monitoring the situation and providing public health guidance to the public, returning travelers, local health professionals, and local employers. 

Summary of COVID-19 situation in the Timiskaming district:

Tests submitted locally  5143*
Positive COVID-19 cases to date
19
Positive cases resolved  19 

(Updated on August 6 at 2:24 p.m.) This chart is updated Monday to Friday, unless there is a positive result to report. 
*Of which the Timiskaming Health Unit is aware.

Epidemiology Update

For additional information, see the weekly Timiskaming Health Unit COVID-19 Epidemiology Update  (Week of August 3)

Positive cases of COVID-19 in the Timiskaming district:

Case #
Age Gender  Exposure Category  Tested  Status 
1 30s Male Contact of a confirmed case outside our district 2020-03-18 Resolved
2 30s Female Contact of a confirmed case 2020-03-24 Resolved
3 50s Female Contact of a confirmed case 2020-03-31 Resolved
4 50s Male Contact of a confirmed case 2020-04-01 Resolved
5 Late teens Male Contact of a confirmed case 2020-04-01 Resolved
6 60s  Male  Contact of a confirmed case  2020-04-01  Resolved
70s  Female  Contact of a confirmed case  2020-04-01  Resolved 
8 70s  Female  Contact of a confirmed case outside our district  2020-04-07  Resolved
20s  Male  Contact of a confirmed case outside our district  2020-04-10  Resolved
10  20s  Female  Community exposure 2020-04-09  Resolved
11  20s Female  Community exposure  2020-04-13  Resolved 
12 20s  Female  Contact of a confirmed case  2020-04-14  Resolved
13 60s Male Institutional outbreak 2020-04-27 Resolved 
14 90s Female Institutional outbreak 2020-04-27 Resolved
15 50s Female Institutional outbreak 2020-04-27 Resolved
16 Late teens Female Institutional outbreak 2020-04-28 Resolved
17 20s Female Institutional outbreak 2020-04-28 Resolved
18 20s Female Institutional outbreak 2020-04-28 Resolved
19 30s Female Community exposure outside our district 2020-08-05  Resolved 
(Updated August 5, 2020 @ 3:40 p.m

 

WEARING A MASK OR FACE COVERING

Effective Friday, July 24, 2020 all persons entering or remaining in a public premise must wear a mask or face covering that securely covers the nose, mouth, and chin as required by the Acting Medical Officer of Health under the authority of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) Ontario Regulation 263/20.

How do masks work?

Wearing a mask helps to trap COVID-19 and protects people who are around you. Since some people who are infected with COVID-19 may have the virus and not know it, whenever people are going out and might come into close contact with other people they should wear a mask. When other people wear a mask they are helping to protect you as well. 

Wearing a mask should not replace other protective measures including physical distancing, hand washing, not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms.

What is considered a mask?

“Mask” means: a cloth mask, medical mask, disposable mask or other face coverings, (e.g., bandana, a scarf or cloth), for filtering respiratory droplets, that securely covers the nose, mouth, and chin and is in contact with the surrounding face without gapping.

What type of mask should I wear? 

There are many types of masks available including non-medical cloth masks that can be washed and reused, disposable masks that can only be worn once and medical masks such as N95 respirators that should be reserved for front-line health care workers.  

Masks

When buying or making a mask you should look for masks that are made with: 

  • Two or three layers of tightly woven but breathable cloth such as cotton, flannel or quilting cotton 
  • No seams over the mouth and nose through which air may leak 
  • Horizontal pleats to help fit a variety of faces 

Disposable non-medical face masks 

Disposable non-medical face masks may also be worn. These masks are single use masks and should be put in the garbage after use.

Medical Masks 

Like many countries, Canada continues to face a shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment for health care workers. To preserve supplies for healthcare workers medical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for specific high-risk settings and are not recommended for lower-risk day-to-day activities like when you are in a grocery store or while taking public transportation. N95 respirators with valves, which let air out more easily when you breathe out, should never be used when the intent is to protect others from the virus you may be shedding because they will not trap the virus. 

Frequently Asked Questions in Timiskaming (July 17, 2020)

1. Why now? With Phase 3 in place, there is higher risk of person to person contact and increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. Wearing a mask or face covering helps protect everyone. This measure will support the local economy by helping businesses to remain open. This step is also being taken ahead of a possible second wave of COVID-19, and the upcoming flu season. All of Northeastern Ontario has taken a similar approach. Current scientific evidence supports this measure and we are responding; we want to normalize the behaviour now.

2. What is considered a mask or face covering? A “mask” includes any cloth, medical or disposable mask that filters respiratory droplets and securely covers the nose, mouth and chin by being in contact with your face, without any gaps. A face covering is a piece of cloth, bandana, scarf or even clothing that loosely covers your nose, mouth and chin. Face coverings may provide some protection from COVID-19, but a fitted mask is recommended as the best option.

3. What about face shields? A face shield is not a substitute for wearing a mask because it doesn’t filter respiratory droplets. Droplets can be inhaled around the shield, or you can spread them to others. If you wear a face shield, we recommend - if possible - to also wear a mask. For those that can’t wear a mask, a face shield is considered a “better than nothing” option, at this time. A face shield should extend below the chin and cover the sides of the face.

4. Who should wear a mask or face covering? Everyone except: Children under the age of 2 or children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver; people with medical conditions who cannot safely wear a face covering (e.g. breathing, mental health, physical or cognitive difficulties), people who are unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, or for religious or cultural beliefs, and people who work in an area of the premise that is not designated for public access or are behind a physical barrier such as Plexiglas.

5. When and where exactly do masks or face coverings need to be worn? Whenever you are in an indoor public space with others. This includes all businesses, retailers, restaurants, gyms/studios, common areas of hotels/motels, libraries, laundry mats, taxis, public transit, spas and salons, places of worship, halls, theatres, and waiting rooms.

6. Are there businesses or public places who are not required to develop a policy? Yes. For example, mask direction for schools, child care centres, day camps and health care settings is provided in other Ministry Directives.

7. What about restaurants? Or the gym? It is ok to temporarily remove your mask while enjoying a meal or exercising at the gym. But please remember to stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your social circle and wash your hands often.

8. Do we need a doctor’s note for an exemption? No. Wearing a mask or face covering is a requirement that is part of an “honour system”. We will continue to communicate to businesses and the public about who is exempted from wearing a mask or face covering. 

9. Will proof of exemption be required, or can people be refused entry to a business or indoor public space? Businesses and administrators of indoor public spaces must have a policy for masks and face coverings and to enforce this measure in good faith. No person should be required to provide proof of exemption and no one should be turned away from a business or indoor public space if unable to wear a mask.

10. What about enforcement? Businesses and organizations are expected to implement and enforce their face covering policy in good faith. Those that do not have a policy in place may be subject to enforcement by Public Health Inspectors or other persons authorized to enforce the provisions of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

11. Doesn’t this infringe on my rights? Public health’s mandate includes protecting the health of everyone in our community and preventing illness. Wearing a mask works against spreading COVID-19. You might feel that it is unnecessary in our region. We have had low numbers and we want to keep it that way! This measure will help. We recognize that no one should be forced to wear a mask if they are not able to wear one. We encourage our community to be COVID-Kind. Masks will protect you and especially they protect people around you in case you have the virus but don’t know it. Be thoughtful, respectful and considerate of one another and understand that not everyone can wear a mask safely.

12. What if I can’t afford a mask? Not everyone can pick up or afford to buy masks so we would like to help. Please contact Timiskaming Connections at connect@timiskaminghu.com or call 1-866-747-4305, ext. 2278.

13. Where can I get a mask? Many local retailers sell masks and many people have been making masks at home. If you are uncertain of where to get a mask, please contact Timiskaming Connections at connect@timiskaminghu.com, call 1-866-747-4305, Ext. 2278 or visit www.timiskaminghu.com. We are working on putting together a list of places across the district where people can get masks and will share the info with you! 

Frequently Asked Questions: Mandatory Masks and Face Coverings (PDF)

Resources

Local Handmade Masks 

NAME CONTACT 
Rachelle Plante Haileybury
Email: rsplante1993@hotmail.com
705-672-3961 
Matthew / Poor Boy Soles
Cobalt
Website: matthew@poorboysoles.com 
Armstrong on Whitewood  

New Liskeard
705-647-8800

 Louise Briere / Just Relax With Louise   New Liskeard
705-648-3063
Email: justrelaxwithlouise@gmail.com 
 Cathy Rivard-McLaughlin/Button Momma Button Momma (Facebook Page)
Kirkland Lake 
 Janet Genovy/ Norwex consultant

Contact Janet Genovy on Facebook 
Kirkland Lake

 Kelly Desjardins Kirkland Lake
705-642-6862
or Contact on Facebook 
 Kathleen Thur Kirkland Lake
Contact on Facebook 
 Gisèle Lemire

Virginiatown
705-634-2427
Email: lemireg@yahoo.com 

 Amanda Cibirka / Black Bear Sews  Larder Lake
Contact on Facebook and Instagram
Email: blackbearsews@outlook.com 
 Sandra Gordon Kirkland Lake
Contact on Facebook
Text: 705-642-7246 
 Alan and Sarah Kirby Kirkland Lake
Contact on Facebook 
Text: 705-570-3211 
Michelle Farstad  Kirkland Lake
Contact on Facebook 
 Carmen Beaudoin  Kirkland Lake
Contact on Facebook

Disposable and non-medical masks are also available at a number of local pharmacies and retail stores across the district, and some online retailers.

How do I properly wear a face covering?

  • Wash your hands using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with minimum alcohol concentration of 60%)
  • Make sure the face covering fits well around your nose and mouth and allows for easy breathing.
  • Make sure your face covering is secured to your head with ties or ear loops without the need to adjust frequently.
  • If your face covering has pleats, ensure that the pleats on the outside are facing down. 
  • If your face covering has a metal strip over the nose, gently mold it over the bridge of your nose.
  • Avoid touching or moving the face covering around when using it.
  • Do not share your face covering with others, even within your own household or social circle. 
  • Replace the face covering as soon as it becomes damp, dirty, or damaged.

When taking off your mask:

  • Wash your hands using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with minimum alcohol concentration of 60%)
  • Only touch the ear loops of the mask
  • If it is a disposable mask, throw it in the garbage right away; do not leave discarded masks in shopping carts or on the ground. 
  • If it is reusable cloth face covering, place it in the washing machine or a bag until you get home. Wash with other items using hot water and regular laundry soap, dry it properly. 
  • Wash or sanitize your hands again.

Learn more about face coverings here:  https://files.ontario.ca/moh-coronavirus-face-coverings-en-2020-05-20.pdf 

Poster: https://files.ontario.ca/moh-coronavirus-face-coverings-en-2020-05-20.pdf 

Video: How to Wear a Non-Medical Mask or Face Covering Properly

Services at THU 

To continue protecting the health of our clients and staff, and to allow us to offer essential public health services in the community, THU is modifying our approach to services. Please check back often as this list may change daily.

If you are looking for service from THU, please call first.

Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores offices are open but doors are locked. Clients will be screened before entering. Englehart THU office is open on clinic days only.

In Office Client Services:

  • Non-urgent appointments are postponed
  • Food Handler Certification testing postponed
  • Immunization services offered (including Well Baby Visits, lactation, etc.)
  • Travel teaching and consults postponed
  • TB testing postponed (possibly case by case)
  • Needle exchange program still available Tips for Substance Use during COVID-19   
  • Some sexual health services still available 
  • Dental clinics: postponed

Health Protection: 

  • Food premise inspections: shifted to complaint based follow-up 
  • Tobacco/Vape Inspections: shifted to complaint based follow-up
  • Adverse Water Quality Incidents (AWQI) will be followed up on
  • Animal bite exposure will be followed up on
  • Private well water testing will be postponed in the Englehart office, New Liskeard and Kirkland Lake will continue at this time
  • Outbreak and reportable diseases: continuing

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention:  

  • Breastfeeding support: available by phone 
  • Parenting groups in collaboration with partnering agencies postponed
  • HBHC Blended Family Home Visiting: postponed (telephone visits where possible) 
  • Some health promotion work with partners continuing if capacity allows, encouraging virtual meetings and physical distancing

Thank you for working together to protect those most vulnerable.

Immunization/Vaccines for School-aged Children (during COVID-19)

Even though the focus is on COVID-19 right now, it is important to protect children and youth from all vaccine preventable illnesses.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health recommends that immunization services be provided during COVID-19, with proper measures in place to do so safely. Because routine in-school clinics are not happening this Spring, we invite parents to contact the THU to book an in-office appointment for student immunization if able to. THU may also prompt parents/guardians by mail or phone as we are able to. For students not able to come in to the office, we will follow-up in schools with catch up clinics in the Fall once it is safe to do so.  

Routine Spring school clinics would have included:

  1. Grade 7: the second dose of human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B vaccines and any catch up for the meningococcal conjugate vaccine. 
  2. Students aged 14 to 16: the three-in-one tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.

For students who are due for the 4 to 6 year old booster, contact your health care provider or call the THU to book an appointment. 

To view immunizations required for school-aged children visit Vaccines For School Children. You can report and review student immunization records here: Immunization Records (Yellow Card).  
 

What Timiskaming Health Unit is doing to respond to novel coronavirus

THU is closely monitoring the global situation and working alongside stakeholders to coordinate activities at a local, provincial, and national level with the assistance of health care professionals and other agencies.

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When should I call the Timiskaming Health Unit?

Anybody who has any of the following symptoms should call the THU COVID-19 line for additional screening and testing arrangements if applicable. 

Symptoms range from mild – like the flu and other common respiratory infections – to severe. The most common symptoms include:

  • Fever (37.8 or higher)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain 

PLEASE NOTE: If you are NOT someone who is described above and you have questions or concerns about COVID-19, please read the information on our website. If you don’t find the answer, please check back frequently or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. 

Hours

Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
 

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Reopening Timiskaming

Be COVID-Smart - (Printable Poster (PDF))

Personal Service Settings 

The province has announced that most personal service settings (hair services, beauty salons, tanning salons, tattoo studios, ect...) will be permitted to open on Friday June 12.  While some activities are permitted to resume with safety considerations, some activities are still prohibited.

The following activities will still be prohibited under the shutdown order:

  • Services that tend to a customer’s face, such as facials, facial hair grooming, eyebrow grooming and makeup, as well as oxygen bars. 
  • Steam rooms, saunas and bath houses must remain closed. 
  • Baths, hot tubs, floating pools and sensory deprivation pods are closed except for therapeutic purposes prescribed by or administered by a regulated health professional. Change rooms and showers for water amenities will be available to the public if operators have the ability to adequately sanitize and disinfect the facilities. 
  • For clarity, a business can open to offer other permitted services even if a restricted activity is its primary service.

Safety considerations that you must consider are:

  1. Screening of customers and staff for symptoms and risk factors. An assessment tool can be found at www.covid-19.ontario.ca.
  2. Requiring all customers to book an appointment and prohibiting walk-in customers.
  3. Limiting the number of clients or workers in an establishment so that physical distancing can be maintained as much as possible.
  4. Increased cleaning and disinfecting or sterilizing of instruments including scissors, hair clippers, nail files, and other equipment between clients.
  5. Assigning each worker a unique set of tools for their own use, and if not possible, limiting the number of people sharing equipment or tools.
  6. Getting tested if workers are worried they have or have been exposed to COVID-19. 

Where physical distancing cannot be maintained, providers should ensure that:

  • Patrons wear face coverings at all times
  • Workers wear face coverings and other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves.

Additional sector specific can be found at www.ontario.ca/covidsafety. This guidance is in addition to your normal procedure specific precautions and regulatory obligations. The government has launched a website to aid businesses with information on PPE supplies. It can be found at www.ontario.ca/ppe

Toronto Public Health has also created some resources, and checklists, for Personal Service Settings that we are promoting. They can be found at: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-protect-yourself-others/community-settings-workplaces/?accordion=personal-service-settings

Frequently Asked Questions for Reopening Personal Service Settings in Phase 2

Please be on the look-out for additional guidance as it becomes available.

Finally, we have obtained scientific support for this list of frequently asked questions:

Hairstyling and Barbering 

Does shampoo etiquette include covering the face of the client with a towel while shampooing to protect their mouth nose and eyes? Or no shampooing? 

For services where a 2m (6ft) distance cannot be maintained and other control measures, such as barriers cannot be used, it is recommended that a face covering or mask is used to reduce the risk of transmission. 

Can hair dryers be used? 

There is limited concrete data on this one; however, blow dryers do have the potential to spread contaminated air and droplets around a room, if there is an infected person around. Blow drying can be done if both the hair dresser and the client are masked and cleaning and disinfection occurs between each client.

Limit services to wash cut coloring and styling? 

For services where a 2m (6ft) distance cannot be maintained and other control measures, such as barriers cannot be used,  it is recommended that a face covering or mask is used to reduce the risk of transmission. 

Clean and disinfect/sterilize instruments such as scissors, hair clippers, nail files and other equipment between each client? 

Yes, this is a requirement under s.10 (4) and s.10(5) of the PSS Regulation. 

Protocol for using hair capes – do they need to be washed between customers. Is washing with soap enough? 

Use a clean cape for each client. Capes should be washed between clients where possible. 

Manicure/pedicure and Aesthetic Services

Use of nail dryers? 

Provided the PSS is screening clients, disinfecting the units between each use, encouraging mask use, and asking clients to perform hand hygiene prior to having any services, theses may still be used.

Remove all nail polish bottles from client reach so as to not allow clients to handle nail polish bottles 

Could ask clients not to touch the bottles or put them behind a barrier to select polish colour. 

Single use nail polish bottles? 

It is unlikely that the virus (and other bacterial pathogens) would survive if introduced into nail polish, therefore single use nail polish is not necessary. Again, it would be important to ensure clients are screened and these perform hand hygiene prior to any services in order to reduce the potential for pathogens to be introduced into the polish.

Personal Service Settings and COVID-19 (PDF)

 

Religious Services, Rites or Ceremonies

Version 1 —June 15, 2020
This advice provides basic information only. It is not intended to provide comprehensive guidance for the delivery/provision of a religious service, rite or ceremony or the operation of places of worship. It also is not intended to provide, nor does it replace, medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or legal advice.

All religious services, rites, and ceremonies must adhere to O. Reg 52/20.

In the event of any conflict between this document and any emergency orders or directives issued by the Minister of Health or the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), the emergency order or directive prevails. 

Refer to the Ministry of Health for complete Guidance document

 

Reopening Fitness Facilities, and Resuming Group Fitness & Personal Training

These guidelines are intended for owners and operators of fitness facilities, instructors/trainers of group fitness classes and personal training. These guidelines have been developed to support sport, recreation, fitness facility operators with reopening their facilities as part of stage 3. On Friday, July 17 at 12:01 a.m., the District of Timiskaming entered Stage 3.

These documents and the guidance within it are subject to change and will be updated as needed. 

Travel outside of Timiskaming

If you return from outside the district and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, we ask that you consider self-isolating if you have travelled to a high risk area (PHO Daily Epi Report), otherwise self-monitor for 14 days while you continue to go about your regular routines.  If symptoms do occur please self-isolate immediately and call the Timiskaming Health Unit @ 1-866-747-4305 for additional screening and testing arrangements. 

These measures will help stop the community spread of COVID-19 in our district. 

Welcome home. Stay home

Please help us share these important health messages to reach as many in our community as possible:

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Transportation guidance for taxi services, volunteer drivers, and passengers 

Taxis and rideshares are an essential service to many people in Timiskaming District. The following recommendations are intended to help taxi and rideshare employers, drivers, vehicle owners, and passengers reduce the risk of community exposure to respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. Transportation GuidanceGuidance for Passengers

Public transit, taxis, and other private transportation providers enable basic mobility for many residents of Timiskaming. This document was developed to address concerns related to the safety and availability of transportation services in Timiskaming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence and Promising Practices for Safe Management of Passenger Transportation Services during COVID-19: Guidance to support transportation in Timiskaming

 

Physical Distancing

As we reopen with Phase 2, it is still important that we all do our part and follow physical distancing guidelines.

Public Gatherings

Do not gather in groups of more than 10 people. This is part of the Ontario government’s emergency order and is enforceable by law.  

It is still safest to only be in close contact with those in your household, however, if you are socializing with others please follow all public health recommendations, which include:

Organizations that can take advantage of virtual options to continue providing services are strongly encouraged to do so.

For up-to-date information on school closures visit the Ministry of Education website.

What is physical distancing?

Physical distancing means limiting the number of people you come into close contact with and keeping a space of 2m from each other to reduce the opportunity for the virus to spread from person to person. What is social distancing? Infographic

Why is physical distancing important?

When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the novel coronavirus, if the person coughing has the disease (COVID-19) (WHO, 2019). COVID-19 can also be spread via direct contact with surfaces that are potentially contaminated with the virus. Practicing physical distancing slows the spread!

How to practice physical distancing

Avoid crowded spaces and stay two metres apart from others when you will be in public areas.

  • Limit social gatherings to less than 10 people. Meeting outside is best.
  • Avoid shopping at peak hours.
  • Keep up-to-date with current closures.
  • Avoid physical contact with others (for example, no handshakes).
  • Ask your employer about options to work from home, if possible. If you have meetings planned, consider doing them virtually instead of in person.
  • When spending time outside, go to settings where people can maintain a two-metre (6 feet) of distance from each other. 
  • Practise physical (social) distancing 

Key recommendations to protect the most vulnerable include:

  • If you are experiencing symptoms, or are symptom-free, but have had close contact with a confirmed case, stay home.
  • If you have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days, you are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. (The exception is for workers who are part of workplaces that are essential to daily living. These individuals are asked to self-monitor for 14 days.)
  • If you begin to feel unwell (fever, new cough, or difficulty breathing) you are being asked to return home, self-isolate and seek clinical assessment over the phone.
  • Limit contact with vulnerable individuals, such as those who are at higher risk of negative health impacts (those who have poor health, are immunocompromised or older adults (70+)). Vulnerable individuals should also limit their exposure to crowded places. Outdoor visits with family members in long term care, retirement homes, and other congregate living settings are currently allowed with limits of 1 or 2 family members visiting at a time with physical distancing restrictions in place. Visitor admission may vary from home to home, so it is strongly encouraged to contact them before visiting.
  • Separating from others and, if you are at higher risk, avoiding contact with those who might be more likely to transmit the disease, such as small children.

These guidelines do NOT mean “you must stay in your home.” Physical distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Connecting with others using the key points above means that you can safely interact with others, if even virtually. For example, you can connect using technology or go outside to take a walk. 

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Safer Participation during COVID-19 

Timiskaming Health Unit stands in support of racial equality. People may be drawn out in peaceful demonstration at this time and that this could put them at risk of exposure to COVID-19. We encourage anyone exercising their rights to demonstrate peacefully do so COVID-safely and take precautions to protect your health, and the health of families, friends and communities during the pandemic. With that in mind, we’re sharing important safety messages. Social media and virtual protests remain the safest way to have your voice heard. If you chose to gather in-person at any organized demonstrations, please take steps to keep yourself and others safe (PDF).

 

Information for individuals and families

  • What is Contact Tracing?  

Contact tracing involves tracking down everyone who has been in close physical contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.  Contact tracing helps individuals understand their risk and limit the further spread of COVID-19.  As the economy begins to reopen and more possibility of close contact presents itself, monitoring yourself and the environments you are in can play a key role in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

If you do get COVID-19, a public health worker will contact you to ask where you have been and who you have been in close contact with over the previous 14 days. If you start keeping track of your contacts now, you will have this information available if you ever need it in the future.

What counts as close contact? Track who you are in contact with at a distance of less than 2 meters (6 feet) for more than 15 minutes.
Check out this link for an easy 7 day diary you can keep in your pocket and update it accordingly.

  • Self-isolation guide for caregivers
       
     
  • 30 Days of Outdoor Play Challenge
    Even with current restrictions from COVID-19, playing outside is good for you and your family! Playgrounds and sports fields are closed, but your backyard isn’t! Help your family get active by playing outside every day in your backyard or neighborhood. Enjoy the fresh air with those living in your household, stay 2 metres away from others and wash your hands when you go back indoors. 

    We’re challenging you to join in our outdoor play challenge! Click the link and join in the fun!

 

Outdoor Physical Activity

Physical activity and getting fresh air are important for our overall physical and mental wellness. When staying home and keeping physical distance, there are still some ways to be active and get outside.

Our neighbourhood sidewalks, streets, and multiuse paths are all still available to get outside and get moving. When doing these activities, some ways to stay safe:

  • Step-aside or pass others quickly and courteously on sidewalks. Passing someone on the sidewalk is not considered a close contact or a significant risk for exposure to COVID-19.
  • Keep 2 metres distance from others;
  • When moving at a fast pace (such as when running or cycling), it is best to stay as far away from others as possible;
  • If you must be behind another runner or cyclist, stay well back and try to stagger yourselves so as to not be directly behind them;
  • Change your route or the time of day that you go out, so that you can follow these guidelines.

Physical Activity 101

Staying Active Outdoors During COVID-19  

  

Indigenous Peoples and COVID-19 

Timiskaming Health Unit service area is located on the territories of many Indigenous peoples, and provides services to First Nations, Métis and Inuit, Anishnaabe, Cree living in urban and rural communities.

Support for Indigenous Peoples during COVID-19 | Sutien aux peuples autochtones pendant la pandémie de COVID-19

We acknowledge that Indigenous people may benefit from accessing information related to COVID-19 from Indigenous organizations that are supporting community members living in urban and rural areas in response the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 information from Indigenous organizations::

Food Security for Timiskaming Communities

The situation we are facing with COVID-19 is unique. Understandably, the response can be overwhelming and, at times, it may be hard to know what to do to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Measures to protect our population from COVID-19 include making sure people are ready in case the illness spreads largely in our communities.

To help guide our decisions around purchasing and to ensure there is enough food for all in our communities, we have provided some recommendations. This includes information about available local food banks services.

  

Community Supports

On this page you will find links to community resources including: community safety supports, mental wellbeing and crisis line services, mental health online supports, help related to substance use and harm reduction, food hamper services, community Facebook groups, and the COVID-19 Volunteer Line. 

 

Mental Health and COVID-19

It is normal for situations like Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to affect your mental health. Everyone will experience these events in their own way. It is completely natural to feel stress and concern during these times and so it is important to practice positive coping strategies.

Below is a listing of Mental Health Resources available to you. 

If you are in crisis, please contact the Timiskaming Crisis Response Line (24 hours a day/7 days a week) at 1-888-665-8888.

If you (or your child) are experiencing thoughts of suicide or harming yourself, please call 9-1-1.

Telephone Supports:

Online Mental Health Resources

For information on how to cope with and reduce stress and anxiety, how to talk to our children about COVID-19, and how to support yourself as well as your loved ones' mental health, please visit:

For an online peer to peer support community for your mental health, please visit:

During these times, it is important to take care of yourself too! Here are some mental health tips to cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Practicing social (physical) distancing doesn’t mean to disconnect. Connect virtually with friends and family, use email, phone, or your preferred social media platforms to connect. 
  2. While staying at home as much as possible, try to maintain a healthy lifestyle including healthy eating, sleep, and exercise. 
  3. Avoid using substances to deal with your emotions. If you are feeling overwhelmed talk to a health worker or counsellor.
  4. Get your information from reliable sources, and limit the amount of time you spend watching or listening to media coverage. 
  5. Use the skills you have used in the past that have helped you manage life’s challenges. 

WHO Factsheet on Coping with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak 

 

COVID-19, Alcohol and Cannabis Use

During COVID-19, people may increase their alcohol and cannabis use. Where to get help

 

Information for Municipalities

Evidence and Promising Practices for Management of Outdoor Recreation and Active Travel Spaces during COVID-19: A guidance document for municipalities in Timiskaming 

Signage for Public Spaces

 

Allotment and Community Gardens

On April 25, 2020, allotment or community gardens were added to the list of essential services that can operate during the emergency measures set out for COVID-19. The amendment to O. Reg. 104/20 now requires that:

“Any person who uses allotment gardens or community gardens shall do so in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting.”

Timiskaming Health Unit has the following recommendations to ensure the safe operation of community gardens in 2020. These recommendations have incorporated suggestions from the Ontario Ministry of Health on the safe use of community gardens.

Recommendations for Allotment and Community Garden Coordinators to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19:

  • Seek approval from garden landowner for permission to operate in 2020.
  • Develop an operation plan specific to each garden that includes a section on infection prevention taking into account garden-specific factors such as the size of the gardens, the layout of the gardens, the proximity of plots to each other, the common areas and amenities on site, and if there are special provisions or restrictions for gardeners at risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • Limit the number of gardeners at each garden site to a number that will permit adequate physical distancing. Consider scheduling gardener access to prevent too many people being at the garden at one time.
  • Permit access to gardeners for the purpose of planting, maintenance and harvesting food only.
  • Do not plan or host events at the garden that bring people together to the site.
  • Consult your local public health inspector for feedback or to answer any questions. Landowners may also want to view a copy of this plan to provide feedback and approval.
  • Send a copy of the final 2020 garden operational plan to all gardeners so they can assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and permit those who do not wish to follow the plan or garden this year to opt out of gardening this year.
  • Update the list of current registered members, staff and volunteers, and track those who have agreed to participate under COVID-19 policies and protocols. This may assist with communication, close-contact tracing if required, etc.
  • Post signage stating that only registered gardeners, staff and volunteers are permitted to use the garden plots. Include who to contact at the garden if there are questions or suggestions for improved operation or infection prevention.
  • Provide resources to gardeners so they are aware of steps they need to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their gardens including:
    • how to safely share gardening materials and tools,
    • how to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as hoses, door/gate handles, tools, etc., and
    • if feasible, provide soap and water for cleaning and hand washing and an approved disinfectant for disinfection of commonly touched surfaces.  If you are providing products have original labels and are stored properly to prevent spills and accidental poisonings.
  • Post clear, visible signage at all garden entrances reminding registered members, staff and volunteers about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and where to seek assistance if they have symptoms (Timiskakming Health Unit [1-866-747-4305], or health care provider). Resources and posters are available online at THU website info in French and English that address topics such as handwashing, cough etiquette, and physical distancing.
  • Place clear, visible signage throughout the garden — especially locations where shared equipment, tools, etc. are located — reminding registered members, staff and volunteers of the requirements that must be followed when using the garden to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Recommendations for Gardeners at Community Gardens to prevent the spread of COVID-19

The risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus in outdoor settings like community gardens is lower than indoors -- this includes the risk of human-to-human spread and from the risk from contaminated surfaces. Distancing is usually easier to maintain outdoors, there is more air circulation, and there is UV sunlight. In addition, we know that virus survives for less time on surfaces that are not smooth, and that UV light kills all SARS coronavirus in 60 minutes. For more general and updated information on COVID-19 visit our page.

  • Be aware that in addition to maintaining a minimum of 2-meter distance from all others, good hand hygiene is very important to protect yourself and others from infection both indoors and outdoors.
  • Conduct a COVID-19 health self-assessment each day before attending the garden to ensure you are not ill. Should self-assessments indicate they should self-isolate or seek medical advice, gardeners must not go to the garden until the issue is resolved.
  • Practice good personal hygiene practices such as washing your hands, coughing or sneezing into your arm, and not touching your face (mouth, nose, or eyes) unless you have washed your hands immediately before. Washed hands are the best protection against accidentally transferring virus to your mouth, nose or eyes where infection can get started. Wash hands as soon as possible before and after gardening at the site. If hands are visibly soiled, handwashing with soap and water is preferred, but hand sanitizer can be effective if dirt is removed from hands first.
  • Use your own garden gloves and bring them home to wash with soap and clean water after each use. Always wash your hands thoroughly immediately after taking off your gloves.
  • Practice physical distancing from others in the garden:
    • stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others to limit the number of people you come in close contact with, except members of your household who are gardening.
    • limit the number of gardeners at each plot. Allow only 1 or 2 gardeners per garden plot. Having more than 1 or 2 gardeners will make it more difficult to maintain at least 2 meters from all other people and would be unfair to other gardeners.
  • Minimize the use of shared tools and consider cleaning and disinfecting tools that are shared. Not touching your face and washing hands after gardening are protective of infection spread from contaminated surfaces.
  • The normal practice of wearing gardening gloves combined with not touching your face and washing hands after gardening are protective of infection spread from contaminated surfaces.
  • Consider wearing a non-medical face mask (i.e. cloth masks) when physical distancing is difficult, to protect others from the spread of droplets generated by breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, etc.
  • Wash your hands as soon as possible after touching commonly touched surfaces in the garden. Remember that you cannot rely on a surface being clean when you touch it – always wash your hands before touching any part of your face even if you think a surface you have touched is clean.
  • Consider bringing soap and water and a disinfectant with you to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces prior to use and ideally after touching them. Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. The following cleaning and disinfection recommendations aim to reduce the risks associated with surface transmission. Surfaces should first be cleaned with soap and water and then disinfected.
  • Follow recommendations from Public Health Ontario on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings, consult Public Health Ontario’s fact sheet on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings, as well as read the specific label instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure products are properly prepared and applied; allowed adequate contact time for the disinfectant to kill germs; and that the person preparing and applying them is wearing gloves and any additional recommended personal protective equipment.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running tap water as per normal when preparing foods. Always wash your hands with soap and water before washing fruits and veggies and between handling different kinds of foods. Visit Ottawa Public Health’s Keeping foods safe (clean, cook, chill, separate) for more information.

Information for Employers

Information for Childcare 

With the reopening of the district in Phase 2, many child care centres are set to reopen. Whether licenced or unlicensed (friends, family, in home private child care), the Timiskaming Heath Unit strongly recommends the following to all those providing child care:

  • Cohorting ? putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day;
  • COVID-19 response plan ? all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider is exposed to COVID-19;
  • Screening ? all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting. Anyone feeling unwell must stay home;
  • Daily attendance records ? child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing;
  • Cleaning ? child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter;
  • No visitors ? only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting;
  • Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.
     

Resources for Childcare 

Timiskaming Health Unit (THU) is providing updates to the community as necessary. Please watch for these and share communications developed by THU to ensure consistent and current information. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact us. We now have a dedicated COVID-19 communication line for community use, by calling our regular number and following the prompts. 

Short-term Rentals, Cabins and Cottages

The Timiskaming Health Unit would like to inform you of regulatory changes affecting short term rentals, cabins and cottages.

Effective at 12:01am June 5, 2020 lodges, cabins, cottages and other shared rental accommodations are permitted to open, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Any pools, fitness centres, meeting rooms and other recreational facilities that may be part of the operations of these businesses are to remain closed at this time.
  • Restaurants dining rooms remain closed to visitors, however take-out or delivery is still permitted.

Ontario has released safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy. Sector-specific guidelines can be found here

Tourism and Hospitality Industry:

For those operating a regulated small drinking water system, O. Reg. 319 still applies and all applicable water sampling and monitoring must take place where indicated in the site-specific Directive issued by your Public Health Inspector. 

Printable PDF version

 

Are smokers and tobacco users at higher risk of COVID-19 infection? 

Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.

Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouth pieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings.

Conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduce the ability of the body to use it properly will put patients at higher risk of serious lung conditions such as pneumonia.

To get telephone-based smoking cessation support, and advice, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, call Telehealth Ontario toll free at 1-866-797-0000. Smokers Helpline

Timiskaming Connections Volunteer Line

We know as the precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 continue, their implications continue to add up. Many people are left to self-isolate at home, and some may belong to vulnerable groups who are in need of essential supplies while not having someone to support them. 

With these individuals in mind, the Timiskaming Health Unit (THU) in partnership with local organizations, has created a COVID-19 volunteer line – Connexions Timiskaming Connections. Our aim is to connect those who need help (individuals members of the community OR organizations in need for volunteers, such as food banks) with available community helpers.  

The Connexions Timiskaming Connections volunteer line is a public health response to the time-sensitive challenges presented to many in our communities as they adjust to COVID-19 public health measures. This response is based on trust and mutual generosity in our close-knit communities. THU is operating only as a connecting service; volunteers who offer support to others are not doing so on behalf of THU and do not fall under any THU policies or procedures. 

Minimal personal information will be collected for the purpose of linking people and will only be shared with verbal or written permission. By signing up you agree to have this information saved in our internal server; at no time will this information be shared with external partners.

While we have made utmost effort to mitigate risk, this initiative is only a matching service and acknowledges that risk is not completely preventable and must be accepted by those using the Connexions Timiskaming Connections service. Timiskaming Health Unit does not accept liability or responsibility for community members supporting one another during this time. 

If you, or someone you know needs help please contact us. 

Similarly, if you can offer to help, please reach out. All volunteers will be screened, those who qualify will be added to our volunteer list and may be called upon when a request for help comes in. Please review the Volunteer Guidance package to ensure your experience is safe and positive. 

Forms for help and volunteering can be found below. 

 

Credible sources of information

Canadians’ best defense against COVID-19 is to stay informed and be prepared. The following are credible sources of information.

 

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