NWHU says masking still recommended
Tim Brody - Editor
While the provincial government removed mandatory masking requirements for most settings on March 21, masking is still recommended by the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU).
“Evidence shows that masking provides an additional layer of protection and is effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” stated Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health at NWHU in a March 17 media release. “One should consider the benefits of masking and the higher risk in our region when making the decision on whether to wear a mask in indoor public settings,” she said.
NWHU shared in the March 17 media release that the NWHU region’s COVID-19 rates are starting to improve, even with the lifting of restrictions, however, NWHU shared that our area’s case rate remains the highest in the province. “We currently have a case rate of 294.3 per 100,000, compared to 75.0 per 100,000 provincially; and the local percent positivity rate is 19.1%, while Ontario’s is 10.2%,” NWHU informed. NWHU’s percent positivity rate was sitting at 17.6 percent as of March 21.
NWHU also shared, “Some people are at higher risk of severe outcomes from a COVID-19 infection, including older adults, immunocompromised, unvaccinated, or those with other health conditions. As restrictions are lifted, assessing personal risk and the risk of those you gather with is important when making decisions about the protective measures you follow. To lower your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, NWHU recommends limiting the number of people at indoor gatherings, practising physical distancing in indoor public settings, and staying home when feeling unwell.”
A March 9 statement from the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, stated that settings such as public transit, health care settings, long-term care homes and congregate care settings would be exceptions to the mask mandate removal.
“Masking is still required in some settings and may be encouraged in some workplaces. Close contacts are also expected to mask for a period of time,” the NWHU shared, adding, “The public is encouraged to show kindness and respect to those who choose to continue to wear a mask after the mandate is lifted.”