This transmission electron microscope image shows the virus that causes COVID-19. Courtesy photo, credit: NIAID-RML

Cindy Macdonald
Record Staff

CHESTERVILLE – The overwhelming message from public health officials at the end of last week is: Stay home! Across Ontario, schools have been closed and residents have been advised to stay at home as much as possible and practice social distancing. Public health officials advise against large gatherings.

As these directives became widespread, the second half of last week was marked by panic-buying and a scramble to cancel or postpone events. On the weekend, the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry recorded its first positive case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. levels of government are responding with measures to minimize the spread of this virus and minimize the economic damage of this public health crisis.

Parents of school-age children face the challenge of schools being closed for three weeks for an extended March break coupled with the cancellation of recreational programs.

At the municipal level, the Township of North Dundas has closed all recreation facilities including arenas, community halls and SDG libraries; the municipal office is closed to the public.

To reduce the risks within South Dundas, the municipality cancelled all March Break activities. Additionally, all recreation programming is cancelled until April 6.

“The municipality is taking this issue seriously and is working to ensure we do everything we can to keep our residents safe,” said Mayor Steven Byvelds. “Our team is working closely with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and implementing safety measures based on their recommendations. I encourage everyone to stay informed and follow the Health Unit’s steps for protecting yourself and loved ones. We will keep our community informed as the situation develops.”

The Township of South Stormont has cancelled all recreation programming and facility rentals until at least April 5. The township is also asking residents to schedule appointments with staff instead of drop-in visits.

In North Stormont, all recreation facilities and township buildings are closed until April 5. In addition, the township is implementing extensions for tax payments. The tax payment deadline has been extended to April 29 (with no penalties and waiving of any interest). Monthly tax payments are not affected.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit suggests the following measures to protect against infection:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands;
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm, not your hand;
  • Stay home if you are sick.

For more information on the coronavirus, please check and follow Eastern Ontario Health Unit on Twitter and Facebook to receive updates.