MUSKOKA, ON-The Simcoe Muskoka District has addressed some of the ongoing concerns and questions the public has during this phase of the pandemic.

One of the first things Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner, notes in his teleconference is that they have recently seen a rise in younger people contracting the virus. On the SMDHU’s webpage, where they track the virus, the 18-34-years-old age group has shown predominantly more cases over the past week. 

When asked how these people can adequately protect themselves, Gardner mentions that even though this group is younger, it is only children who show signs of being at less of a risk of contacting COVID-19 and therefore, this group needs to remember to practise physical distancing, diligent handwashing, and mask-wearing. 

Despite it being just over a week that mandatory masks were introduced into the community, Gardner said that he currently does not have data that shows how well this is being complied with. “We have the impression that it is being complied with very well, but I do not have the figures about that.”

Since this mandatory mask order, the health unit has been receiving divided calls, 81 of which were complaints about mask use. This was divided even further when the calls were either about being opposed to wearing a mask and those who were concerned about others who were not wearing masks.    

Gardner also notes that they have also heard of individuals who have witnessed or are concerned about “intolerance” of people who do not wear masks. In response to this, Gardner wanted to reiterate that specific individuals are exempt from wearing a mask like very young children, those who have certain medical conditions, or their religion forbids them from doing so and the order that went out stats that businesses are not required to deny service to anyone who is not wearing a mask.  

Gardner noted that the goal with these masks is to strike a balance of high compliance of wearing masks and avoid any conflict situations. “I would ask that people be compassionate if they see individuals who are not wearing masks and assume they have a valid exemption for not wearing a mask and in no way treat them in any negative fashion.”

For more information on masks and how to stay safe during the pandemic, visit the SMDHU website here.