Public health inspection ‘blitz’ of Peterborough grocery and big-box stores imminent

Focus so far has been on parks and public spaces; to date, two people have been charged for being in violation of provincial stay-at-home order

Shoppers line up outside Morello's Your Independent Grocer in Peterborough as the store controls capacity limits as required during the province-wide shutdown. Peterborough Public Health is urging residents to only leave their homes for essential reasons with January on track to see the most cases reported in a monthly period during the pandemic. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW.com)
Shoppers line up outside Morello's Your Independent Grocer in Peterborough as the store controls capacity limits as required during the province-wide shutdown. Peterborough Public Health is urging residents to only leave their homes for essential reasons with January on track to see the most cases reported in a monthly period during the pandemic. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW.com)

With a sixth local COVID-19 death reported and January on track to see the most cases reported in a monthly period, Peterborough Public Health is ramping up enforcement of the ongoing provincial stay-at-home order — including an imminent “blitz” inspection of compliance by grocery stores and big-box stores.

During a Peterborough Public Health media briefing held Tuesday (January 19), medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra reported a “congregate senior setting” resident died of COVID-19 complications this past weekend. She added the setting where the person lived, which she did not identify, wasn’t and still isn’t in outbreak.

“When we first became aware of this case, we did a risk assessment and determined there were no other high-risk contacts and no need to declare an outbreak,” she explained.

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To date in January, 132 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Peterborough region — just shy of the 137 cases reported in December, which was a monthly high locally.

As for declared outbreaks, one that was declared at Fairhaven Long-Term Care in Peterborough is ongoing but “stable” with one case yet to be resolved.

Meanwhile, two new outbreaks were declared Sunday (January 17): one at Regency Retirement in Lakefield where there are two resident cases, and another at Centennial Place Long-Term Care in Millbrook where there is one resident case as well as one staff case.

Overall, local COVID-19 numbers show (as of Tuesday morning) there were 49 active COVID-19 cases in Peterborough city and county, Curve Lake, and Hiawatha region, with 105 close contacts of positive cases are being monitored.

Since the pandemic’s outbreak, Peterborough Public Health has reported a total of 481 cases of which 426 have been resolved. To date, 40,600 residents have been tested.

Much discussion during Tuesday’s briefing focused on the recent stay-at-home order issued by the province. Peterborough Public Health’s manager of environmental health Julie Ingram admitted to it being “an interesting week” since Queen’s Park brought in the new order.

“This order requires members of the public to stay at and in their place of residence, and only leave for essential reasons,” she reminded, listing a few essential trips such as going to a place of employment, accessing child care, getting groceries and prescriptions, and attending medical appointments.

“Just because you can go out doesn’t mean you should,” Ingram said, echoing comments made at last Friday’s briefing by Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith. “Consider why you’re thinking about going out. Do you want that thing or do you need that thing? It must be a need and it must be extremely important to justify going out.”

Ingram added a “blitz” of grocery stores and big-box stores by public health inspectors is being planned and is imminent. The focus to this point, she added, has been on parks and public spaces.

While Ingram said there has generally been “a high level of compliance,” Peterborough Police Services Chief Scott Gilbert noted during the briefing that two people have been charged for being in violation of the provincial stay-at-home order while another has been charged under a federal statute for not quarantining for the mandatory 14-day period upon return from travel abroad.

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On the vaccine front, there remains encouraging news. According to Dr. Salvaterra, Peterborough Public Health has now received written notification that the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive the week of February 1st.

“We will receive enough to immunize residents, staff and essential caregivers in our eight long-term care homes by our February 15th deadline,” confirmed Dr. Salvaterra, saying the number of those immunized with the first dose will be close to 3,000.

Also on hand for Tuesday’s briefing were Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef Peterborough-Kawartha MP Dave Smith, Hiawatha First Nations Chief Laurie Carr, and Peterborough Board of Health chair and Selwyn Mayor Andy Mitchell.

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Paul Rellinger
Paul Rellinger a.k.a Relly is an award-winning journalist and longtime former newspaper editor still searching for the perfect lead. When he's not putting pen to paper, Paul is on a sincere but woefully futile quest to own every postage stamp ever issued. A rabid reader of history, Paul claims to know who killed JFK but can't say out of fear for the safety of his oh so supportive wife Mary, his three wonderful kids and his three spirited grandchildren. Paul counts among his passions Peterborough's rich live music scene, the Toronto Maple Leafs, slopitch and retrieving golf balls from the woods. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @rellywrites.

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