Assume it’s everywhere: Eastern Ontario Health Unit eliminates location information for COVID-19 case updates

CORNWALL — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has scrubbed its public COVID-19 data of even the limited location information it previously offered on those testing positive for the virus to avoid creating a “false sense of security” in parts of the population.

Cases had been identified on the broad basis of being in either the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, or the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. For the first time, a positive test result from “Cornwall” may have briefly appeared on the web yesterday — before the geographic data was lumped together, eliminating all distinction.

And there’s a reason for the change, explained Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis during last night’s daily media briefing: It’s pointless because everyone needs to adhere to physical distancing and the stay-at-home requirement anyway. The virus, he pointed out, is “all over SD&G” and the EOHU region, as opposed to just Prescott and Russell, which recorded the first 13 cases out of the 26 now registered.

“Those 26 cases are spread out very evenly. If for some reason one [town] doesn’t have it, it doesn’t mean they’re immune or aren’t going to get it,” says Dr. Roumeliotis, adding that location information isn’t provided to avoid “a false sense of security in individual little towns” — and even in Cornwall.

“It’s in our area … let’s make sure we limit that growth as much as possible, in our area,” he said, noting the 200,000-plus population in his jurisdiction has a higher percentage of elderly people who are at increased risk of a bad outcome if they become infected.

Dr. Roumeliotis also commented on a respiratory outbreak at Glen Stor Dun Lodge but was unaware that results for COVID-19 had come back negative for three individuals recently tested at the institution, as reported by the administration at the site yesterday.

“If it did, I’m very happy,” the doctor said when informed during the conference call, adding, “I have to confirm that.”

“It’s not uncommon for us to have a [respiratory] outbreak and not find anything,” he noted. “Sometimes we don’t pick them up because there’s a couple of hundred viruses that can cause it.”

 

 

 

 

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