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Collingwood hospital lead doctor advises against gathering for Thanksgiving

'We could easily end up in serious trouble in a matter of weeks,' said Collingwood G&M Hospital president and CEO
Aimee Stinson, nurse manager, Norah Holder, hospital CEO and president, and John Widdis, manager of plant operations and maintenance for the hospital, stand in front of the new beds and cubicles at the Alternative Health Facility set up by Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Both the province's public health agency and the regional health unit have reported record numbers of new COVID-19 cases this week, prompting regional and local health officials to recommend people adjust their behaviours. 

Collingwood General and Marine Hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Michael Lisi, is urging families not to gather in groups over Thanksgiving. 

“We understand that asking families not to gather in large groups this holiday weekend is tough,” said Lisi in a news release issued by the hospital. “If people are feeling compelled to gather, they should do so outdoors with appropriate social distancing, as its 20 times safer to be outside with increased airflow. Additionally, shared sources of food and shared utensils for serving should be avoided.”

Earlier this week, Dr. Charles Gardner issued similar advice. The region's medical officer of health has been recommending people should pop their social bubble and go back to close contact with household members only for a couple of weeks. 

He acknowledged that current rules allow gatherings of up to ten people in people's homes. However, he suggested by only having your household members in your home you can do more to reduce the spread of COVID. 

“When it comes to the business of getting together for Thanksgiving and people gathering in homes, we are advising you to stay with your home group,” he said. “If you chose to have other family members, you’re going against advice, you’re not going against a regulation that’s enforceable.”

Dr. Gardner and Dr. Lisi's advice is also backed by the G&M Hospital president and CEO, Norah Holder. 

“Over the past few weeks, we have heard a great deal about the rise in COVID-19 cases across the region, the province and the country. It is very important that we all do our part this weekend to avoid a surge in cases in the coming weeks,” said Holder.

Today, the province announced at least three of the COVID hotspot regions in Ontario would be reverting back to a modified Stage 2 with restrictions tightening to prohibit indoor dining among other indoor activities. 

“We could easily end up in serious trouble in a matter of weeks,” says Holder. “Let’s all do our part to stop the spread.”

Gardner agreed. 

“I do think it’s very important that people take to heart right now the importance of physical distancing from everybody excluding those in your household,” said the doctor.