I have a cough, why am I not being tested for COVID-19?

city_scope_logo-cmykAs is bandied about across all social media venues, does every individual have the right to demand a COVID-19 test?
This week we presented that train of thought to Dr. Joyce Lock, medical officer of health at Southwestern Public Health for her observations.
Is an individual with a cough immediately tested for the virus?
Not normally.
Dr. Lock advises, in simple terms, a test is administered when it is clinically indicated.
In other words, the test results will better help the doctor to decide what is the best route of care for that patient.
So, in the case of an individual exhibiting mild symptoms, what would be prescribed?

“Then the care that you need is to stay home like you have a flu,” advises Dr. Lock, “and drink plenty of fluids and take some Tylenol if you have aches and pains or perhaps some cough medicine.
“And stay away from other people so you don’t spread the infection to them. And you would do that whether you had flu from COVID or flu from something else.
Dr. Joyce Lock“So it really doesn’t make any difference in your care. So at this point in time, those kinds of people aren’t being tested.”
However, in advanced cases, Dr. Lock says testing is necessary.
“So if you’re in the hospital and you’re really sick, we really need to know because if you have a cough and pneumonia that’s from the bacteria, we need to know which bacteria it is because they all get different antibiotics, and so we can treat you that way.
“Whereas viruses, they don’t need antibiotics. Antibiotics don’t kill viruses or help our immune system to kill viruses. So in the hospital, it makes a big difference in how you’re cared for and whether your care is the right care.
“But if we send you home and you just sit out your flu, it doesn’t really make a difference whether you’ve got your flu from a coronavirus or influenza virus or a respiratory virus.”
So, here is the takeaway from Dr. Lock.
“If you’re sick with something that seems like a respiratory infection, the most important thing is to stay home.”
If symptoms seem to be taking a turn for the worse, do not immediately visit the hospital, cautions Dr. Lock. There are a series of steps you can take.
“One is the province has a self-assessment tool online. So we ask all our community members to first find a self-assessment tool and work through it. If you work through the self-assessment tool and you find out from the tool that you do need further direction, then you have the option of calling Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) for information.
“You can call your family doctor’s office for information. Several of them are trying to be able to manage some of this by either a telephone visit with them or even via computer.
“Or lastly, you can also call Southwestern Public Health (519-631-9900 or visit their website at swpublichealth.ca).
“And hopefully between those three different resources, you should be able to get the information you need.”
As Dr. Lock stressed in a previous interview, “I’m encouraging all people to seriously think if you have symptoms of a cold, do yourself justice, do your community justice and do your family justice by just staying home.”

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With such a unique and inspirational attraction in the city, you would think the St. Thomas Elevated Park would elicit pride of achievement and not be a magnet for malicious and hateful behaviour.
For the fourth time since its installment at the west end of the park, Christine Dewancker’s imaginative creation, The Faraway Nearby, has been senselessly vandalized.
This time the damage was far worse.

STEP 2 artjpg

Christine Dewancker’s creation during installation in September 2019.

At the Sept. 11 opening of the park in the sky, Dewancker noted, “I’m really, really pleased to be a part of this historic project and I know all of the work that has gone into creating something like this and everybody should be really proud.”
It seems that is not the case with a small minority of louts who lack the wherewithal to appreciate beauty.
We caught up with On Track St. Thomas director Serge Lavoie – one of the main driving forces behind the park – this week as he helped remove the remains of Dewancker’s 11-piece creation that survived, intact, a lengthy presentation at Ontario Place in Toronto.
“This time it was a total destruction,” advised Lavoie. “No piece was left untouched. All 11 pieces of the installation were knocked over. There isn’t one complete unit out there.
“We’re disassembling now and taking inventory. And looking to see which pieces have to be refabricated so we can put it back together later in the year.”
As can be expected, Dewancker “is pretty devastated” by the attack, added Lavoie.

Christine Dewanckerjpg

Christine Dewancker

“Christina and I had just finished working on a new design for the sculpture. So we were going to disassemble it, put it back together with the new design, which would have made it virtually impossible to topple it.
“But, meantime, this happened sometime Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, somewhere in there.”
So at some point in a roughly 12-hour time frame, beauty and wonder were the victims of hate.
This latest destructive spree will result in fundamental changes to Canada’s only elevated park.
“The plans here include lighting the bridge and putting in a video surveillance system. So we’re working with two companies to supply us with everything we need, including getting a lot of technical assistance from Entegrus.
“At the end of last year, Entegrus gave us a $20,000 grant toward electrifying the bridge. And so we announced that at that point, we would use that money to not only put lights up on the bridge but also to give us the electricity we need for a video surveillance system.
“So all those pieces are being worked on right now. And that was in our work plan for later this spring. Now, obviously, it will be a bit later given the COVID-19 pandemic, but sometime this year, we will electrify the bridge, put lights on it and have video.”
Lavoie continued, “So by putting electricity up here and lightning along the path and on the bridge, it will make it a safer feeling place. It’ll be much easier to go up there and do checkups and what have you.
“And it’ll also make it possible for the video to get better resolution.”
During this new reality precipitated by the COVID-19 virus, the elevated park has been a welcome respite for many.
Even more so with the four-kilometre trail open at the west end of the structure.
And, with this wonderful amenity available to residents in these trying times, Lavoie has two simple requests.
“Follow social distancing rules and pick up after themselves. A lot of people seem to be using this as an excuse to scatter garbage around as well.”
And we’ll throw in respect for the park in the sky – built by the community for the community – such a serene place to visit.

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EMS has one, as does the city’s fire department.
And, starting next week, the St. Thomas Police Service will have a temporary satellite station downtown in the Railway City Tourism office at Talbot and Moore streets.
railway-city-tourismjpgThis downtown presence plus a commitment to enhancing foot patrols in the Talbot Street core is in response to the closing of non-essential businesses and the concerns of owners about the safety of their storefronts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We spoke yesterday (Friday) with Chief Chris Herridge on the rationale behind the satellite station.
“We’re going to have a couple officers there. And what they’re going to do is some reporting by telephone. We’re trying to reduce the number of calls that our officers have to go on.
“Some of those calls that people are reporting are not going to require an officer to go knocking on a door or to do any follow-up.
“So, we’re going to take some of those calls over the telephone. It’s called online reporting.”
The temporary station will also make it a little easier to practice social distancing internally at the main building on CASO Crossing.
The tourism building is not occupied at this time and Herridge said, “We thought that gave us an opportunity to spread out some of our regular daytime people. They can take some calls over
the phone and balance that with doing foot patrol in the downtown as well so that we can increase our presence.”
Herridge confirmed there had been an “uptick in property crime over the past few weeks,” and this added presence should be a deterrent.
“We had a number of break-and-enters on Talbot Street but thanks for the good work of our frontline officers and our street crime officers and criminal investigations branch all working together, we were able to make an arrest and link that person to a number of those.”
While the station is temporary at this stage, Herridge said he would like to see it become a permanent fixture.
“I would like to see us have a location in the downtown, but I’d like to go further west. I think that’s more central downtown for us. I mean, obviously, we’re very thankful for the tourism booth and having that location, but eventually, that’s going to be up and running again, so we’re not going to have that location forever.
“But I think there are some storefront locations that we can have a satellite station further west.”
As is the case in the main station, the public will not be permitted to enter the building due to COVID-19 restrictions.

For downtown business owners whose shops are closed after being deemed non-essential, police pass along the following crime prevention tips:

  • Remove all valuables from storefront displays to help reduce smash-and-grab thefts.
  • Remove all valuables such as cash from the till and leave it open. Place cash tray in plain view on the counter to signal there’s no money in the till.
  • Remove signage from front windows so police can see the inside unobstructed during patrols.
  • Consider installing an alarm monitoring system. If you already have one, ensure the contact list is up-to-date.
  • Clearly post signage on the door/window to indicate that the premises are monitored by an alarm company; that no money is kept on the premises and contact information for police and the business owner in case a member of the public sees damage to the property or suspicious activity.
  • If the premises are closed for an extended period of time, clean all glass surfaces and create a tracking log of when cleaning was completed. This may help investigators with suspect fingerprints in the event of a break-in.
  • Consider installing a surveillance camera system that can be monitored online by owner/management.
  • Consider using a laminate on all windows and glass doors to prevent the glass from being broken from blunt force. Although damage to glass will occur in a break-in attempt, it will greatly discourage or prevent entry.
  • Install latch guards on doors to protect against prying including on secondary doors such as employee and loading entrances.
  • Keep some lighting on inside for surveillance opportunities during the evening.
  • Ensure all doors are properly secured and regularly check all exterior lighting is functioning.
  • Remove material around the exterior of the property that may be used to gain entry.
  • Consider checking on your business daily and report any suspicious activity to police as soon as possible.


A thoughtful observation from Bob Upsdell on our March 7 item on community grants.

“When looking at the annual grant to the Talbot Teen Centre, it not as simple as looking at how the money is spent. One also has to think about the potential cost savings and other benefits to the community.
“The resources at the Teen Centre keep our teens off the street, embolden them with a charitable spirit, and better prepare them to be good citizens and productive members of the adult community. “Without the Teen Centre, our police and social services budgets would suffer. The present grant to the Teen Centre is about half of a police officer’s salary and benefits. It is not just an expense, it is an investment in our youth and community and a significant saving in other budget areas.”

Steve Ogden zeroed in on that same post to vent on membership in The Sunshine Club.

“I somehow don’t think it’s coincidental that you immediately followed your coverage of the city rethinking its grant ‘policy’ with coverage of The Sunshine Club. The fact that 133 city employees made more than $100,000 last year, and that 37 of those work at City Hall, should catch our attention.
“I found it particularly interesting that we’re concerned about spending so much money to support worthy causes but think nothing of granting yearly increases totalling more than $66,000 to 14 city hall employees.
“One of them got a raise of $10,000, which is a fair amount more than I live on from year to year. Another was bumped up $18,000 over the previous year. It is very difficult for me to justify that, no matter what angle I view it from.
“I had a similar discussion on this recently with the head of a prominent foundation here in town. I suggested it was inappropriate for Doug Ford to be making severe cuts to Health and Education services while granting his deputy ministers increases totalling over $800,000 a year. Unsurprisingly, he disagreed.”

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