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Living Alongside COVID from the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

March 11, 2022

For the past two years, we have learned a lot about protecting ourselves and others from COVID-19 symptoms and serious infection. The province also provided specific regulations for some public and workplace settings.  

We expected that at some point provincial mandates would stop for the public as the level of Omicron decreased to the point that the health care system was able to cope with the number of people needing hospital care. We are at this point now. The final provincial requirements for the public will stop on March 21, 2022, including masking requirements in public places, except public transit.

Workplaces, organizations, businesses, and services can now develop their own policies and requirements for protective measures appropriate to their setting to continue to protect their employees and keep low levels of COVID-19 infection in the community.

We can focus on “living well alongside COVID-19” – deciding what is important to do, and considering the benefits and risks. Then take as many steps as are reasonable to reduce the risk of becoming sick or infecting others. See this website for help assessing risk and what can be done to reduce it. Respecting the decisions of others about what is safe for them is very important. Some people may be experiencing feelings of uncertainty and worry as public health measures are lifted.

Staying home when sick with COVID-19 symptoms is still essential for 5 days if one has at least two doses of vaccine or under 12 and then wearing a mask in public for another 5 days and staying away from immune-compromised people or high-risk settings. The isolation is for 10 days for people who are partially or unvaccinated or are immune-compromised.

“Living well alongside COVID-19” includes:

  • Eating well and being physically active
    • Healthy balanced eating gives us the energy and nutrients we need to grow, work, learn, play and be healthy. Look for opportunities to enjoy preparing food and eating with others. Check out our Healthy Eating page.
    • Regular physical activity helps to build a healthy body and mind. A mix of activities that build strength, heart health, as well as balance and coordination, is best for all ages.
    • Being outdoors in nature has an important added benefit of calming the brain, increasing creativity, enhancing learning, and decreasing anger and aggression. Get more info here.
  • Connecting with and supporting others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Make time for sleep. Each person needs a different amount of sleep. You can learn what your sleep needs are by noting whether you feel rested in the morning and alert during the day.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule by sleeping and waking up at the same time each day
  • Set the stage for sleep by making a comfortable sleep environment. Limit noise and light distractions. Avoid stimulants close to bedtime (caffeine, nicotine and other medications). Alcohol can disturb your sleep, by waking you up during the night and early morning.
  • Being vaccinated
  • Washing and sanitizing hands in public, workplace, or school
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer after being in touch with others or handling anything from outside your home
  • Wearing a well-fitted mask in public places when you feel you will be too close or if you have underlying conditions that put you at greater risk
    • The use of a well-fitted, high-quality two or three-ply mask provides an important layer of source protection decreasing the transmission of the virus particles from the nose and throat of an infected person to others in a close contact situation. An approved medical/surgical mask also provides protection from exposure to the virus for the person wearing the mask. Adding eye protection when the person has close contact with someone not wearing a mask gives additional protection.
  • Keeping distanced in public
    • Workplaces, organizations, businesses, and services can review what the risk of close contact is in the workplace for employees, clients, and the public, and whether a distance of 2 meters can always be maintained or people are separated by a physical barrier. If not, requiring the use of a well-fitted mask will give added protection to preserve the workforce capacity and decrease the risk of infecting their clients or members of the public.
  • Protecting people who are vulnerable

Consider the following when assessing benefits and risks of social interactions:

  • Your personal risk for serious disease, and the risk of people with whom you will be spending time.
    • Does anyone have health conditions or take medications that could affect their immune system?
    • Has everyone been vaccinated? Three doses is best. (four doses for immune-compromised)
    • Is everyone symptom-free? (even people with mild symptoms should stay home)
    • Does anyone work in a setting that may have more exposure to COVID-19 positive individuals? (like in a hospital, clinic or testing center)
  • Is the setting outdoors or can you take the activity outdoors? If it is indoors, does it have good ventilation with (2 m) of space between people?
  • Is there close contact in these activities?

Public Health is monitoring the local COVID-19 situations: our hospitalizations continue to be low and waste water surveillance has seen a gradual decrease in all three sites along with fewer reports of new infections from PCR testing. There are fewer new outbreaks in congregate care and other joint living settings, and most are resolving well. We will continue this surveillance and alert the community to any significant increases.

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