The Community Update page is updated daily with local and provincial COVID-19 updates, information, and frequently asked questions to keep residents of Elgin and Oxford County informed.
COVID-19 Quick Links
- COVID-19 Test Results
- COVID-19 Online Self-Assessment Tool
- COVID-19: Getting tested for COVID-19
- COVID-19 Resources in French / Ressources COVID-19 en français
- How to report COVID-19 order violations
- What you need to know to help you and your family stay healthy
- COVID-19: What to do in Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas
- How to practice physical (social) distancing
- Frequently Asked Questions
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - September 14, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - September 7, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - August 31, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - August 17, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - August 10, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - August 3, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - July 27, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - July 20, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - July 13, 2020
- COVID-19 Surveillance Report Summary - July 6, 2020
Our data is updated each day by noon. Tabs containing data about hospitalizations, exposures and symptoms are updated weekly on Thursdays.
To see different types of information, click the blue boxes along the top of the chart, or click the grey arrows to scroll through all the data. Viewing on a mobile device? Use our mobile-friendly dashboard.
Important Updates and Announcements
For updates and news releases from Southwestern Public Health please visit our Newsroom.
Provincial, Federal and Global Websites
- Ontario Ministry of Health
- Public Health Ontario
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control
- World Health Organization
Updated September 11, 2020
What is COVID-19?
On December 31, 2019, Chinese health authorities identified a new (or novel) coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19) through a series of reported cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that circulate both in humans and animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the “common cold” or more severe illnesses, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
How does COVID-19 spread?
Coronaviruses spread through droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. Through these virus-laden droplets, it can spread to people who you spend a lot of time with (close contacts) such as household members – similar to how the flu and other respiratory illnesses spread. If someone with a coronavirus coughs on a surface, and you touch the surface and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose with an unwashed hand, the virus could infect you.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Fever (temperature of 37.8°C or greater)
- New or worsening cough
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
Other symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- New olfactory or taste disorder(s)
- Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
- Runny nose, or nasal congestion – in absence of underlying reason for these symptoms such as seasonal allergies, post nasal drip, etc.
Other signs of COVID-19 can include:
- Clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia
Please see COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms for more information related to symptoms.
Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. This is the longest known incubation period for this disease.
Please use the new Ontario Health West COVID-19 Self Assessment tool if you are experiencing the symptoms listed above.
How long does it take for symptoms to appear?
Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. This is the longest known incubation period for this disease.
Recent evidence indicates that the virus can be transmitted to others from someone who is infected but not showing symptoms. This includes people who:
have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic)
- never develop symptoms (asymptomatic)
How long can the virus survive on surfaces?
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. For more information, visit the Government of Canada website.
Is there a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19?
Currently, there are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, and there is no vaccine that protects against coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own.
You should manage symptoms by:
- drinking plenty of fluids
- getting rest and sleep as much as possible
- trying a humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough
- Acetaminophen for management of fever and muscle aches
- Over the counter medication for cough and sore throat
Note: If your symptoms worsen or become unmanageable at home, seek medical attention.
What is the COVID Alert app?
The COVID Alert app is a Bluetooth-based app that will send you phone alerts if you have been exposed to COVID-19 and will inform other people who have the app if you test positive for COVID-19 - all without sharing any personal information. Learn more here.
Can ibuprofen worsen the disease for people with COVID-19?
Based on the current available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen. Currently WHO is not aware of any reports of negative effects from ibuprofen, beyond the usual know side effects that limit its use in certain populations.
Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?
No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.
How can I protect myself and my family from contracting COVID-19?
Everyday preventive actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Stay home except for essential outings (groceries, medication, health care appointments)
- Get a yearly flu vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies. This is the best way to prevent influenza infection
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick
- Avoid sharing personal items, such as utensils and water bottles.
- Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and throw the tissue out immediately. Wash your hands afterward.
- Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and shared items using regular household cleaners.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share your recent travel history with your health care provider
- Wearing a face covering (non-medical masks) when in enclosed public spaces and when physical distancing isn’t possible.
- How to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)
What is Physical (Social) Distancing?
Physical (Social) distancing is an important measure that each and everyone one of us can do now in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. The Public Health Agency of Canada is recommending that all residents of Canada practice physical distancing.
What is physical distancing (infographic)
What is a “social circle”?
Ontarians are encouraged to establish a social circle of no more than 10 people. This means that you can interact and come into close contact with one another without physical distancing. The rules of the social circle are different from the proposed expansion of social gatherings from five to ten people. Social gatherings can be any 10 people from outside your household, but where physical distancing of at least two metres should be maintained.
Ontarians who wish to form a safe social circle should follow these five simple steps:
- Start with your current circle: the people you live with or who regularly come into your household;
- If your current circle is under 10 people, you can add members to your circle, including those from another household, family members or friends;
- Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle;
- Keep your social circle safe. Maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle; and
- Be true to your circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.
The province has developed a practical step-by-step guide to help Ontarians as they safely develop and join a social circle
Anyone who is feeling ill should immediately limit their contact with anyone in their circle, inform he members of the circle, self-isolate and seek testing if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Please find an assessment centre here.
How many people can gather together?
Stage 3 of phase 2 of Ontario’s re-opening began Friday July 17th. In stage 3, outdoor social gatherings must be limited to a maximum of 100 people, and indoor gatherings must be limited to a maximum of 50 people. In all cases, individuals are required to continue to maintain physical distancing of from others outside of their direct household and/or social circle. All businesses, services and individuals when hosting an event are subject to indoor or outdoor gathering limits and ensuring physical distancing can be maintained.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted through pets and their fur?
The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human-to-human transmission. There is no evidence to suggest that pets or other animals play a role in transmitting the disease to humans. Scientists are still trying to understand if and how it affects animals.
Pets can contribute to our overall happiness and well-being, especially in times of stress. If you are feeling well (no symptoms of COVID-19) and are not self-isolating because of COVID-19 illness, you can continue to take walks with your dog or spend time with your pet. This can contribute to keeping both you and your pet healthy.
As a precautionary measure, if you have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case, you should follow similar recommendations around animals as you would around people in these circumstances.
Who is currently being tested for COVID-19?
Any Ontarian presenting with at least one symptom or sign from the document COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms should be considered for testing for COVID-19. Ontarians can also be tested if they are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case. In addition, those who require testing prior to visiting their loved ones in Long Term Care and Retirement Homes can also be tested. No Ontarian will be declined a test at an assessment centre (either through appointment or walk-in, per the processes of each individual assessment centre),
To find an assessment centre near you, please check COVID-19 Assessment Centre Locations.
For information related to testing for COVID-19, please refer to the COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update and Protecting Ontarians Through Enhanced Testing. Questions about testing? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been tested for COVID-19, now what?
To review your test results please go to https://covid19results.ehealthontario.ca:4443/agree. Lab results will take 24-48 hours to appear. If your test result is positive, you will be given the opportunity to securely enter information about your symptoms and contacts. A staff member from your local public health unit will also contact you to provide further guidance and ask you some questions.
Review this resource for information on what you should do while waiting for your test results. If you have questions about self-isolating or returning to work, please call and speak to one of our staff at our Call Center as each situation is unique.
1-800-922-0096 ext. 9
Monday to Friday: 7am-6pm
Saturday to Sunday: 8:30am-4:30pm
How will I know if a case is confirmed in our region?
Cases in Oxford, Elgin and the City of St. Thomas can be found on our Community Update page, which is updated daily.
Ontario is now providing a more detailed summary of COVID-19 cases in the province that will be updated each day at 10:30 a.m.
Please note: Our region has a Class Order Section 22 in place that requires individuals to self-isolate if asked to by public health – it applies to people who test positive for COVID-19 or had close contact with someone who has it. Those who disobey this Order will be fined. So please, if you are asked to self-isolate by our team, be responsible and stay home.
What is the difference between self-monitor and self-isolate?
- How to self-monitor
- Self isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members, and close contacts
- How to isolate at home when you may have COVID-10
What should you do while self-isolating?
Self-isolating is difficult, but just know that individuals and businesses are rising to the occasion and there is help for you and your family. Here is a quick guide for helping you with the essentials:
How to Get Food:
- Reach out to friends, family and neighbors to pick up groceries that you need if possible
- For food banks, meal delivery programs like ‘Meals on Wheels’, and grocery stores that deliver food to people who are homebound, reach out to Ontario 211—Community and Social Services
- Please see the updated list of food access in Elgin, City of St. Thomas and Oxford
- Help Line:
- Call 2-1-1* or toll-free: 1-877-330-3213 to talk to someone directly
- Visit www.211ontario.ca to search topics, email* or live chat for help
*if your request is urgent, please dial 2-1-1 as email is not monitored 24/7
- There are many for profit services like ‘Skip the Dishes’ or ‘Good Food’ that may deliver to your area. Search for these services on-line or reach out to friends, family and neighbors for suggestions
- To protect yourself and others during any food deliveries, refer to How to isolate at home when you have COVID-19
How to Get Medications:
- Many pharmacies will deliver right to your door. Check with your pharmacy to see if this is a service that they offer
- If your pharmacy does not offer home delivery, reach out to friends, family and neighbors to pick up your medications and other pharmacy needs
- If you continue to have trouble accessing the medications that you need, reach out to Ontario 211—Community and Social Services Help Line for other possible delivery options.
- Visit www.211ontario.ca to search topics, email* or live chat for help
- Call 2-1-1* or toll-free: 1-877-330-3213 to talk to someone directly
*if your request is urgent, please dial 2-1-1 as email is not monitored 24/7
- To protect yourself and others during these deliveries, refer to How to isolate at home when you have COVID-19
How to Get Mental Health Services:
- If you require mental health and/or addictions support, please call REACH OUT at 519-433-2023/1-866-933-2023
How to get Urgent Home Repairs Done:
- If you have an urgent repair e.g., furnace not working or a plumbing leak, be up front when you call to get service so the worker can come prepared to protect yourself and your repair worker refer to How to isolate at home when you have COVID-19
Tele visits with Doctors:
- Tia Health – online appointments (can get prescriptions, advice, requisitions). Free in Ontario with a health card.
- cover.health – virtual walk-in clinic, covered by OHIP.
- https://dialadoc.ca/ - OHIP Covered Phone Appointments Online with Ontario’s Doctors.
- covid19checkup.ca – complete assessment and you may be asked to book a televisit with a physician.
- https://www.getmaple.ca/covid-19-screening/ - Maple – online covid-19 screening to connect with a doctor. Available 7 days a week 8am – 8pm ET. Should be covered by OHIP.
- Children’s Hospital Virtual Emergency Clinic https://www.lhsc.on.ca/news/childrens-hospital-launches-virtual-emergency-clinic
Have travel related questions?
Please refer to the Government of Canada COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Exemptions.
What are the rules when travelling between Canada’s provinces and territories?
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, interprovincial travel within Canada has come with a requirement in some provinces to self-isolate for 14 days before you can safely move around. This rule is still in place for some provinces, while others — like the Atlantic provinces are forming a travel bubble to permit residents in eastern Canada to visit other maritime provinces without the need to self-isolate. To check the restrictions and allowances, visit the provincial/territorial websites below:
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
The Government of Canada also has requirements for travellers within Canada so be sure to read up on what is expected if you plan to fly within the country. All air travelers, with some exceptions, are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while travelling. Via Rail Canada has also issued a mandatory face mask policy for all passengers.
It is still suggested to avoid ALL non-essential travel – stay home as much as you can and practice physical (social) distancing. You may wish to review “High Risk Areas in Canada for Covid 19” prior to making travel plans.
Travellers returning to Canada:
For Canadians who have recently travelled, the Government of Canada has put in place an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada. This is to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Failure to comply with this order is an offence under the Quarantine Act.
If you have recently arrived in Canada, Government of Canada officials will call you to monitor compliance with your mandatory quarantine. We ask that you please answer calls from 1-855-906-5585 or 613-221-3100.
If you have recently returned to Canada and you have symptoms, isolate. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.
If you have recently returned to Canada and you have no symptoms, you must quarantine (self isolate) yourself. This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others. An updated Order is being issued, under which any traveller arriving in Canada—whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic—cannot isolate or quarantine in a place where they would be in contact with people who are vulnerable, such as adults aged 65 years or over and people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Upon arrival, every traveller will need to confirm that they have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine, where they will have access to basic necessities, such as food and medication. Travellers will be expected to make plans for where they will isolate or quarantine in advance of arriving to Canada. Travellers who do not have an appropriate place in which to isolate or quarantine themselves must go to a place designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. These criteria are newly applied to asymptomatic travellers.
In addition, all travellers arriving in Canada will be required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering to proceed to their final destination where they will isolate or quarantine. They will be provided with a mask if they do not have one.
These new mandatory measures are an additional layer in Canada’s actions to protect the health of Canadians, including persons aged 65 and over and people with pre-existing medical conditions, who are at greatest risk of severe health complications related to COVID-19.
If you develop symptoms within 14 days of returning from international travel:
- isolate yourself from others
- immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:
- describe your symptoms and travel history
- follow their instructions carefully
It is important to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched such as door handles, facets, tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Cleaning them with detergent or soap and water removes dirt and some germs. After cleaning, you can disinfect them to kill/remove germs.
Household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) mixed with water, is an inexpensive and effective disinfectant that can be prepared at home.
Please see Cleaning and Disinfecting in Public Settings for more information.
To clean areas such as washrooms, or during outbreaks of respiratory disease or vomiting and diarrhea.
Prepare a 1: 50 Household Bleach Solution:
- 20 ml (4 teaspoons) household bleach + 1000 ml (4 cups) water
- 100ml (7 tablespoons) household bleach + 5000 ml (20 cups) water
To clean toys, dishes, utensils and food contact surfaces:
Prepare a 1: 500 Household Bleach Solution:
- 1ml ( ¼ teaspoons) household bleach to 500ml (2 cups) water
- 20 ml (4 teaspoons) household bleach to 10 L (40 cups or approx. 2 gallons)
Health Canada has created a list of hard surface disinfectants that are likely to be effective against the coronavirus). Check the label of disinfectants to make sure you are following any safety guidelines.
How do I make sure my child’s toys are clean?
- Don’t share toys beyond your household
- Clean and disinfect hard surface toys using a mild bleach solution (see above for guidance)
- Stuffed animals, fuzzies or soft surface toys made of fabrics are difficult to clean and disinfect. Wash them frequently using soap (or detergent) and water to remove some germs and dirt from soft surfaces.
Using shared laundry facilities during a pandemic:
Can I make my own hand sanitizer at home if I can’t find it in the store?
Making hand sanitizer at home is not recommended. When making hand sanitizer, it is important to get the concentration of the required isopropyl alcohol correct to ensure the product is effective. It’s better to use soap and water than to make your own sanitizer.
The World Health Organization has official instructions to make a disinfecting hand sanitizer to use in medical settings (Guide to Local Production), but it is not meant for households to follow (e.g., it requires an alcoholometer to measure the concentration of alcohol in the final product).
How do I clean my face covering/non-medical mask?
Please refer to Pregnancy and Breastfeeding during COVID-19.
***DO NOT GO SHOPPING WHEN SHOWING SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 OR IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19. Not sure? Take a self-assessment.
What steps can you take to minimize risk at the grocery store?
- If you can, use hand sanitizer when entering stores and wash hands/use sanitizer after leaving.
- If you have them, use disinfecting wipes and use on cart and basket handles.
- Maintain physical distancing as much as possible while shopping and give others at least 2 m or 6 feet of space. Since this can be difficult to do at times, you may wish to wear a non-medical mask.
- Make a list ahead of time so you know what you are looking for. This may help to reduce the time you spend in the grocery store.
- Touch only what you plan to buy.
- Use self-scanning technologies at check outs.
- Avoid touching surfaces or items unnecessarily (e.g., use tap to pay for your groceries, touch and pick-up only what you intend to buy) and avoid touching your mouth, nose or face at all times. Remember that you’re getting the virus, number one, by touching it with your own hands and then touching your own face. If you practice careful hygiene and you’re not introducing anything to your mouth, your eyes or your nose, you’re protecting yourself.
- If you use reusable bags, wash them in hot water after each and every use.
- Follow the rules set out by the grocery store you’re visiting (i.e. following directional arrows).
What are grocery stores doing to minimize your risk?
Additional precautions should be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 within retail and grocery stores. Some actions that have been adapted and/or are recommended can include but are not limited to:
- Increasing cleaning and sanitizing or high touch surfaces.
- Limiting and/or removing bulk counters, self-serve hot entree bars, olive bars, seafood bars, salad bars.
- Providing priority shopping to seniors for the first hour of opening.
- Supplying hand sanitizer and/or disinfecting wipes for carts and baskets.
- Enforcing physical distancing rules by marking spaces at check-out lines with tape and hanging signs reminding customer not to crowd each other in shopping aisles.
- Installing physical barriers at check-outs.
- Encouraging the use of self-scanning technologies at check outs.
- Encouraging customers to pack their own purchases, whenever possible, and discouraging the use of multi-use bags.
- Limiting the number of customers allowed in at one time to ensure physical distancing can be maintained
- Offering home delivery, where possible.
Is delivery a safer choice than going to the store?
Pre-ordering and having groceries delivered to your home is a great choice. If fewer people are in the store fewer people are touching surfaces. Fewer people means physical distancing is easier too. Many stores are now offering curb side pick up which may also be a good alternative option for those not wishing to enter the store.
Ordering from home and having it delivered is the best choice for vulnerable people like seniors or people with chronic disease.
How should I handle groceries when I get them home? Can I Take them Inside the House Right Away?
- According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), “there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19.”
- Usual food safety tips should be followed, including storing your food correctly as soon as you get home. Do not store groceries outside of the home, in cars or garages.
- When using any cleaning product on food surfaces, ensure the cleaner is intended for use directly on food and follow label directions to avoid intoxication as a result of chemical contamination. The use of soap on food is not recommended as ingestion of soap can result in intoxication and gastrointestinal symptoms.
- It is okay to wipe down non-porous cans and boxes with soap and water or disinfectant wipe as an extra precaution. Handling of food packaging should be followed with handwashing.
- There is no need to wash your coat, change your clothing or disinfect your footwear after grocery shopping. Proper hand washing and avoiding touching your face is important to prevent the spread of COVID 19.
How should I handle groceries for someone who is in the vulnerable population?
- If shopping for someone else, best practice is to drop off groceries while practicing physical distancing (e.g., drop off the groceries at the door, ring the bell, and step away).
- If entering the home to help with the unpacking, wash hands immediately upon arrival and after putting the groceries away. Wear a cloth mask as physical distancing may be difficult.
Should produce be washed before eating? Should soap or a disinfectant be used?
Health Canada’s regulations for washing produce and other foods have so far remained the same. Health Canada recommends giving fruits and vegetables a good rub under running water—cool or lukewarm is preferred. It is not recommended to wash produce with dish soap or any detergent. It is not recommended to treat produce with chemical disinfectants at home. It isn’t necessary to use solutions specifically designed for cleaning fruits and vegetables, known as produce cleaners.
Should I only buy food that can be heated?
No. Handle and prepare all food safely, just as you always have. For example, when you wash produce properly (see above), its perfectly okay to consume it without heating it. For more food safety reminders, go to Food Safety and You.
- Return to School
For information on school re-opening, please visit our COVID-19 School Support Page.
- COVID Basics: What you need to know to help you and your family stay healthy
- COVID-19: What to do in Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas
- COVID-19 and Children
- Practicing physical (social) distancing infographic
- COVID-19 Resources for Parents and Children (includes colouring sheets, activites, etc)
- Caregiver Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- How to be safe and still have fun during COVID-19
- COVID-19 Safe Play Advice for Parents
- Home Alone and Child Minding Resource for Parents/Guardians
- Mental Health and Wellbeing:
- Coping with Stress
- Kids Help Phone – Supporting the young people in your life during COVID-19
- “My name is Coronavirus” a book to support and reassure children
- Talking to Children About the Pandemic
A couple of days without a routine might be okay, but day after day is a different story. COVID-19 self-isolating requirements means parents might want to rethink what their child’s day looks like. Here are a couple of ideas to consider:
- Keep routines in place: Parenting experts agree that setting and sticking to regular schedules are key, even when you’re all at home all day. Kids should get up, eat and go to bed at their normal times. Consistency and structure are calming during times of stress. The day can mimic the school or child care centre schedule, changing activities at predictable intervals, and alternating between periods of learning and play. It may help to print out a schedule and go over it as a family in the morning.
- Be creative about new activities: Incorporate new activities into your day like family game time or maybe cooking together (https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Childrens-Nutrition/Cooking-and-Meal-Planning/Cooking-with-Kids.aspx) along with quiet reading time. Follow libraries and your local Early On Child and Family Centre on facebook. They may be closed, but there are lots of books and resources that you can access from home, and activities such as story times, science experiments and circle time are being planned virtually for families. Balance quiet activities with physical play sprinkled throughout the day. Go for a walk, kick a soccer ball in your yard or shoot some hoops while still practicing social distancing. The internet is full of fun indoor active games and activities too. Here are some great links to get your started https://activeforlife.com/ , www.haveaballtogether.ca and www.buildyourbestday.com. You can also subscribe to active8YourHome at https://www.recessguardians.org/daily-activity-newsletter and they will send you a video every weekday with a new game idea, as well as a challenge. These games will be simple, good for all ages, and most importantly, fun!
- Keep them learning: The Ministry of Education has also launched a new website which includes the entire Ontario curriculum allowing parents to supplement their children’s education while at home: https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home
- Reach out for help if your child is showing signs of anxiety or excessive worry. Wellkin Child & Youth Mental Wellness remains open to help but are shifting to tele-support and tele-counselling. If your child or youth is in need, you can contact Wellkin at 1-877-539-0463 (24/7) or visit https://wellkin.ca/contact-us/. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health also has a special section on their website with information and suggestions for maintaining mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-health-and-covid-19. If you need urgent help for your child or youth, you can also contact your family doctor or telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000.
What businesses and workplaces are allowed to be open?
On Friday July 17th, the Southwestern Public Health region entered stage 3 of phase 2 of the provinces re-opening. Read more about what this means for businesses reopening here. Stage 3 includes:
- Increases in gathering limits. Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people; outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people. Physical distancing must still be maintained.
- The re-opening of public playgrounds, libraries (for all on-site services) and indoor dining at restaurants.
- Re-openings of casinos, bingo halls, gaming establishments, concerts and live shows, convention centres, meeting spaces, facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g. gyms, fitness studies), festivals, recreational attractions, movie theatres, real estate open houses, sporting and racing events, and tour and guide services.
- The continued closure of amusement and water parks, buffet-style food services, dancing at restaurants and bars, overnight camps, private karaoke rooms, saunas, steam rooms, bath houses, oxygen bars and table games at casinos. Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports is also not yet safe.
Businesses and workplaces that are re-opening must do so safely and comply with public health measures (such as ensuring physical distancing and frequent cleaning and disinfecting) to ensure they are operating safely.
For questions about what businesses can open, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
For more information on opening your workplace during COVID-19, please visit our Workplaces and Employers page.
Can I visit someone at a Long-Term Care or Retirement home?
Beginning June 18th, family and friends will be allowed to access to visit family and friends in these settings with certain restrictions in place to minimize risk.
Visitors may be required to follow strict health and safety protocols, including passing active screening every time they visit, confirming with staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous two weeks, and complying with infection prevention and control protocols. This includes bringing and wearing a face covering during visits.
Long-term care homes: Read more about the re-opening of Long-term care homes to visitors here and connect with the home you wish to visit for additional guidance.
For questions about long-term care homes, call the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s Family Support and Action Line at 1-866-434-0144 between 8:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., seven days a week
Retirement homes: Read more about the re-opening of retirement homes to visitors here.
Are campgrounds open?
Ontario Parks campgrounds and private campgrounds can be open for recreational vehicle, car camping and all other types of camping. Visit Ontario Parks or Ontario Parks social media to learn about facilities and services opening up and for the most up to date information.
For more information, you can also visit Ontario Parks FAQs.
What is the guidance regarding funerals?
The maximum number of people allowed to attend an indoor funeral ceremony is 30 per cent capacity of the ceremony venue. Outdoor funeral ceremonies may have a maximum of 100 people. For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending must follow proper health and safety advice, including practicing physical distancing from people who are not from the same household or their established 10-person social circle.
Funeral receptions must adhere to gathering limits of 50 people for indoor venues and 100 people for outdoor venues, or less should physical distancing not be achievable.
Please see Staying Safe at Funerals for additional guidance.
What is the guidance for community gardens?
How can my workplace safely re-open?
For more information on workplaces, visit our Workplace and Employers page.
Avoiding public spaces and working remotely can help reduce the spread of COVID-19, however for people who experience violence in the home, being home may not be the safest option.
Other factors such as stress and financial burden can impact families, creating situations that may compromise safety while at home.
If you are concerned for your safety, there are supports in the community that can help.
Additional supports can be found here.
List of resources:
(in an emergency call 911)
Aylmer Police: 519-773-3144
St. Thomas Police: 519-631-1224
Woodstock Police: 519-537-2323
Domestic Abuse Services Oxford
Violence Against Women Elgin County
Victim Services Elgin
Victim Assistance Services Oxford County
Contact local police who will contact victim assistance services for client.
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To our partners and residents in Oxford County, Elgin County and the City of St. Thomas: One of the most important steps we can all take to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus is to put distance between ourselves and others.
With that in mind, we’re doing our part by closing most of our clinics and classes. Until further notice, we will not hold prenatal, breastfeeding, food handling or dental services and TB testing. Sexual Health Clinics will continue with very careful safety measures in place, with the exception of our Tillsonburg clinic which will be canceled until further notice. Our Needle Exchange Program will also remain in service with additional infection control measures in place. If your doctor has asked you to obtain a TB test, please call your doctor’s office and advise them that this service is not available currently from public health.
Our staff are on site and our phone lines are open. If you have a general question about a program or service you use, please call us. If your questions are specific to COVID-19, call us at 1-800-922-0096 #9,
Thank you for your cooperation and support as we slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community as healthy as possible.
A public health emergency, like COVID-19, can be stressful and cause increased anxiety and fear. It is normal to feel some stress and anxiety in times like these. During a crisis, it is also common for people to show great resiliency. It is important to stay connected to friends and family and reach out if you need support. Below is a list of resources available to you.
See this Ministry of Health COVID-19 fact sheet for Ontarians experiencing mental health and addictions issues during the pandemic.
At Ontario.ca/coronavirus, people can find information about the different virtual mental health and wellness options that meet their unique needs, including online therapy.
Mental Health services:
- For Caregiver and Youth resources visit Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies or Caregiver Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- List of local mental health services
- Government of Ontario: Find mental help and addictions support in your community
- Elgin Mental Health and Addictions Resources
Help for Substance Use:
How can communities help?
Physical (social) distancing is the most important thing you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19. Isolating at home can leave us feeling helpless, making us feel disconnected from our communities when we need each other the most. There are ways we can still work together as a community while practicing physical (social) distancing though.
Here are a few ideas on how help your community:
- Stay up to date with credible information Spreading myths and false information can make things worse. Be kind to your community by sharing information from credible sources. Let’s bust the myths out there.
- Think of your community while shopping for necessities. If you can, go to stores when they are less busy. Practice keeping 2m/6.5 feet (about the width of a car) away from others at all times, and only shop for what your family needs. Taking more than what you need means it’s not there for your friends and neighbours. Our supply chain is strong.
- Make donations where they’re needed. Contact your local services and agencies to see where you might donate money or supplies, they need most. The Red Cross is also urging blood donors to donate now since the need for blood never goes away. Check out this resource on making safe food donations.
- Be a good neighbour. Reach out to friends, family and neighbours, mostly those who do not have access to internet, transportation, language barriers, seniors living alone, and those who are at higher health risk from existing conditions. Make sure they have the supplies they need to get through, share Public Health advice and news (i.e.; what to look for re: symptoms and what to do), help them come up with a plan to have care in case of illness. Something as small as picking up some milk for a neighbour in need could make all the difference. Leave that milk on the doorstep and call your neighbour to let them know it’s ready to pick-up. Ensure to always practice physical (social) distancing.
- Think of ways to support small local businesses. Buy from local small businesses that are still offering services as much as you can (e.g., small restaurants that are offering take-out or delivery).
Want to help your community or looking for support?
Check the list of Give and Get programs in Oxford and Elgin.
Physical distancing does not mean losing touch with our community. There are many ways you can keep the community spirit alive and well.
Interested in volunteering for your community?
Review the Canada Student Service Grant - Volunteer & Gain Experience
Are you a health care professional or community organization? Please visit the Partners and Professionals page.
Have a COVID-19 related questions? Having difficulty reaching our Call Centre?