Statement from the Town of Wasaga Beach and the Wasaga Beach Professional Fire Fighters Association

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COVID-19 is a serious public health issue that we continue to face on a daily basis.

Throughout the pandemic, city staff have worked diligently to provide public services to the residents of Wasaga Beach.

Earlier this month, the city announced an outbreak of COVID-19.

The city has taken all necessary steps to deal with the situation, as confirmed by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the Department of Labor.

The city would like to thank the South Georgian Bay Health Unit and Community Health Center for their assistance.

We would also like to thank the many people in our community who have expressed concern and support during the outbreak. Thank you for your phone calls and emails. We appreciate your kind words and thoughtful actions.

Over the past few days, we have received numerous inquiries from firefighters, their families, other city staff and the public regarding comments on social media that reflect negatively on the fire department and the whole of the Corporation of the Town of Wasaga Beach.

Many of these negative comments on social media have called into question the integrity, dedication and professionalism of our firefighters, as well as other members of the city organization.

A review of the comments revealed wild speculation, defamatory remarks and lies about the COVID-19 outbreak, which has affected 20 members of the city organization.

These public attacks are shameful and hurtful to staff and their families.

While the public has the right to question local government, it does not help when statements are made via social media that contain misleading and inaccurate information, which could erode public trust in the service. fire and other company services.

Since the outbreak, the city has provided accurate and timely information to its employees and the public. Visit our website to see a press release from November 21 and an update published on November 25.

Residents with questions about the outbreak should contact the city directly.

Please keep in mind that due to privacy legislation, the city may not be able to discuss specific details about identifiable individuals.

Below are examples of some of the concerning comments found on social media. We provided factual answers.

What led to the COVID-19 outbreak?

In consultation with public health, we were unable to establish the original source of the virus.

However, we do know that firefighters in the line of duty responded to several COVID-19 positive households in the weeks leading up to the outbreak.

Although firefighters take every precaution when on call – including wearing PPE – they have to work in close proximity to each other for long periods of time, which could increase the risk of transmission.

We also know that firefighters – like all city staff – spend time in the community and with family and friends, and these interactions are possible sources of COVID transmission.

On social media, local resident Leslie Farkas said: “Two weeks ago there was a Wasaga Beach Firefighters Party involving apparently over 50 attendees, which was attended by the Mayor of Wasaga Beach. Turns out, that was quickly followed by the COVID outbreak at the fire department. and the town hall, which included the mayor.

This statement is not true.

We are aware of an after-hours social gathering at a house that included members of society as well as private citizens. Through review of this outbreak, it was determined that this event did not violate public health regulations, including gathering limits.

Current COVID-19 restrictions allow private gatherings. Please consult provincial regulations for more information.

Local resident Aaron Armstrong says on social media that a “bottle of zambuka (sic) was distributed at the fire station before the rally”.

It’s wrong. The city does not allow drinking in fire stations.

Some on social media said the city had failed to notify the relevant authorities of the outbreak.

The city advised public health and spoke with the Department of Labor. These organizations said they were satisfied with the city’s response.

Local resident Leslie Farkas asked on social media why staff weren’t required to self-quarantine and be properly tested after being exposed?

The city followed appropriate public health protocols.

In accordance with the city’s COVID-19 safety plan, after the first firefighter tested positive, he self-isolated and the city identified close contacts; these people self-isolated and went to the health unit to get tested for COVID-19.

As the situation evolved, the city identified other employees as potential close contacts and those people were tested.

Out of an abundance of caution, all other city workers were given a citywide rapid antigen test. As a result of the testing, the city identified two additional asymptomatic employees and those individuals submitted for COVID-19 testing from the health unit.

All members of the organization who tested positive isolated themselves and followed public health protocols.

A second round of rapid antigen tests administered by the city confirmed no ongoing transmission.

Some on social media have asked why a CPR course for city staff was held at Fire Station 1?

The course was held five (5) days before the first firefighter tested positive for COVID-19.

At the time of the course, no firefighters were showing symptoms or awaiting test results.

Public health regulations authorized the course and staff followed all guidelines. This included health screening, masking and sanitizing.

However, after the outbreak, five people who took the course tested positive for COVID-19.

People have asked why people weren’t wearing masks in photos the city recently shared on social media.

These images reflect brief moments when masks were removed to take a photo.

There is no evidence that transmission of COVID occurred during those very short moments.

Going forward, masks will be worn during all indoor photography.

Final Thoughts

COVID-19 numbers are on the rise in Ontario.

As people do their best to follow public health protocols to stay safe, transmission of the virus will continue.

Disseminating misinformation about members of our organization is inappropriate and unfair. These people work hard to make decisions, respond to emergencies and provide services. They and their families are good people and deserve better.

Despite our best efforts, we have seen outbreaks in schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, sports teams and various business settings.

People can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by following public health rules and getting vaccinated.

Our number one priority remains the health and well-being of our staff and the delivery of services to our community.

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