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Timmins sawmill temporarily shutdown due to COVID-19 cases

Four EACOM staff are confirmed COVID-19 cases
2019-05-31 EACOM10 MH
A file photo of Eacom's Timmins sawmill. Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

Editor's Note: The Porcupine Health Unit has now declared a n COVID-19 outbreak at EACOM Timmins.

EACOM has temporarily shutdown its Timmins sawmill after COVID-19 cases were confirmed at the site. 

There have been four confirmed cases among the 132 employees at the Timmins site, according to Biliana Necheva, EACOM public relations senior advisor.

She said the company is going "above and beyond" Porcupine Health Unit and Ministry of Labour recommendations by shutting down the operation preventatively. Screening is also being offered to employees through a private health clinic.

"We do not have a confirmed restart date as our priority is to ensure a safe working environment but we have had the site disinfected and are collaborating closely with public health," wrote Necheva in an email.

Along with Timmins, the lumber company operates in Sault Ste. Marie, Elk Lake and Nairn Centre near Sudbury.

Last week, it announced it was offering cash incentives to employees and contractors to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The company is aiming for an 85 per cent vaccination rate at its nine sawmills and two secondary manufacturing facilities in Ontario and Quebec.

The confidential program includes an incentive of $200 for the first dose, $150 for the second, or $350 for a single-shot vaccine.

"As not all age groups are yet eligible for vaccination, we don’t have a full picture of participation, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive so far," said Necheva today.

"Of note, the incentive is offered to our woodlands contractors as well as those who are medically exempt from vaccination."

There has been a surge of COVID-19 cases in the health unit region recently. 

Today, 29 new cases were reported, with 27 of those being in Timmins. 

To date, there have been 769 confirmed cases of the virus in the region. Of those, 578 are recovered and 26 people have died. There are 165 known active cases in the region — 150 in Timmins, 11 in the Cochrane, Matheson, Iroquois Falls and Smooth Rock Falls area, two in the James and Hudson Bay region, one in the Kapuskasing area, and one in the area of Hearst, Hornepayne.

So far, 35,064 people have been vaccinated, which is an increase of  377 from yesterday's report. There have been 36,384 vaccine doses administered.

There are COVID-19 assessment centres in Timmins, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Matheson, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Hearst, and Hornepayne, as well as communities on the James Bay coast. 

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.

There is a provincial shutdown and stay-at-home order in effect.