Richmond Hill COVID-19 tele-town hall addresses new cases, enforcement, essential services
Police have laid 40 charges related to COVID-19 rules violation so far in the region.
May 14, 2020
Since York Region has started to show positive signs in slowing the spread of COVID-19, how is the local battle against the pandemic going in Richmond Hill so far?
A one-hour live telephone conferencing session on COVID-19 held May 7 in Richmond Hill sought to answer this, and more questions related to the crisis.
Hundreds of residents tuned into the tele-town hall -- hosted by Deputy Mayor Joe DiPaola, and co-hosted by Mayor Dave Barrow -- to learn the latest on the COVID-19 cases and inquire about their concerns.
York Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karim Kurji, York Regional Police (YRP) Chief Jim MacSween and Richmond Hill Fire Chief Steve Kraft joined the city’s representatives live in responding to the COVID-19-related questions in a city where more than 200 people have been infected and seven have died.
“The response was far greater than expected,” DiPaola said. “We found many residents wanted more information, and many residents -- especially seniors -- do not have a computer or internet access, or did not know where to get help.”
A total of 11 questions with a focus on the current local status of COVID-19 were answered during the session while another 58 waited in queue and didn't get to ask due to time limit, DiPaola noted.
The organizer said he's working to follow up with the residents on the information they requested.
There have been 204 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Richmond Hill, including seven deaths, as of May 12, according to York Region Public Health.
More than half of the confirmed cases in Richmond Hill have been resolved while six residents remain in hospital, including two in ICU, on May 12.
About 20 per cent of infected residents are in self-isolation.
The spread of the virus started with travel-related cases initially in Richmond Hill, but the cases due to close contact and community spread have become the biggest sources of the infection now, data shows.
YORK REGION'S STRATEGIES
The strategies are essentially threefold: containment strategy, testing, and physical distancing, according to Dr. Kurji.
The containment strategy means the region will identify cases and follow up on the contacts to make sure they're no longer exposed to the community. The testing strategy can be likened to a form of intelligence. For us, it is only through testing which is conducted at the three hospital assessment centers that we are able to identify the cases and then pursue following up with the contact.
The physical distancing strategy has a variety of methods, from the closure of the schools and businesses to essentially sticking to your own households and remaining in your own homes and not actually interacting with other people, keeping at least six feet in distance.
COVID-19 GUIDELINES ENFORCEMENT
“YRP works with the municipal bylaw officers in partnership to educate on the importance of maintaining physical distancing,” MacSween responded on the live session.
Police has received thousands of calls of reporting not only businesses, but people who were in large gatherings. The officers do respond to those types of calls, but the first priority is to educate.
“We’ll charge where charges are appropriate. For the most part, that’s worked very well for us,” the police chief said.
To date, they’ve laid about 40 charges in the region, but charges are very rare.
IMPACT ON RICHMOND HILL FIRE SERVICES
Like most workplaces, Richmond Hill’s fire services have staff working from home, according to the fire chief.
There are a minimum of two fire inspectors on duty working in the office to ensure any complaints or any phone calls are answered without any delay at all, Kraft said.
“In Richmond Hill, we're fortunate we did have a good stock of N95 masks, and it's because of lessons learned that we have a robust stock of PPE,” he said.
The fire services have also changed their procedure when working with the paramedics so they can reserve the medical supplies while maintaining the services, according to the fire chief.
Go to www.joedipaola.ca to listen to the recorded tele-town hall session.Go to www.york.ca/covid19 to get the latest information on the pandemic.