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Black River-Matheson declares emergency after 'significant number' of staff exposed to COVID

'The township is taking this measure because we will now lack the necessary staff resources to deliver the mandated, quality services that our residents deserve," says the mayor

Black River-Matheson has declared an emergency after a "significant number" of staff were exposed to COVID-19.

The declaration is being made under the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. 

There has been a high-risk exposure for some staff and a "significant number" of them are self-isolating for 14 days, according to a news release.

"The township is taking this measure because we will now lack the necessary staff resources to deliver the mandated, quality services that our residents deserve. The declaration provides us with other options and tools to deal quickly and effectively with the situation," said Mayor Gilles Laderoute in the release.

The township is consulting with its Emergency Community Control Group to ensure vital services continue and that the necessary information is communicated to the community. The protection offered by the Black River-Matheson Volunteer Fire department is not affected by the declaration, according to the township.

The Porcupine Health Unit does not name specific smaller communities that COVID-19 cases are in.

Currently, there are five known active cases in the area of Cochrane, Matheson, Iroquois Falls and Smooth Rock Falls. The most recent case in that area was announced this morning.

"On behalf of council, we are very appreciative of the continued good work that our staff and volunteer firefighters are doing under very difficult circumstances and we wish good health for all of them. We are also grateful to Dr. Lianne Cattoon, the staff at the Porcupine Health Unit and all our medical staff for their dedication, hard work and guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic and for their assistance during our declared emergency," said Laderoute.

Regular messages will be released through the media, website, postal service and Facebook.

To date, there have been 385 confirmed cases of the virus in the region. Of those, 329 are recovered and 25 people have died. There are 31 known active cases —  24 in Timmins, five in the Cochrane, Matheson, Iroquois Falls and Smooth Rock Falls area, one in the Kapuskasing area, and one in the Hearst, Hornepayne area.

There are COVID-19 assessment centres in Timmins, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Hearst, and Hornepayne. 

The Porcupine Health Unit COVID-19 information line can be reached at 705-360-4819 or 1-800-461-1818.

People eligible for a vaccine can register for upcoming clinics in the region here. Select pharmacies are also delivering the vaccine. Find a list of those and book an appointment here.

Maija Hoggett

About the Author: Maija Hoggett

Maija Hoggett is an experienced journalist who covers Timmins and area
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