Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, September 4, 2020
As Labour Day marks the unofficial end of summer, I'd like to talk today about some ways we can reduce our risk of COVID-19 as we head into fall and the holiday season. I'll begin with the usual numbers update first.
There have been 130,493 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,141 deaths. 88.5% of people have now recovered. Over the past week, close to 46,000 people were tested daily, with 0.9% of people testing positive. An average of 525 new cases have been reported daily during the most recent seven days.
Throughout the summer, Canadians worked together to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We wore masks, washed our hands frequently, and avoided crowded spaces. As a result, the infection rate in Canada as whole has remained low, which has allowed many public spaces to re-open.
For many, the Labour Day weekend marks the unofficial end of Summer and start of Fall. And we all know that Fall brings colder weather, as well as a number of important holidays where we traditionally gather with our loved ones. Most of us spent the Spring holidays in a small household contact bubble, physically distanced from many of our friends and extended family. We did it to plank the curve and reduce our risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. I want to thank Canadians for their efforts. I know it was difficult to be apart from our loved ones - it certainly was for me.
Canada faces a different COVID-19 situation in September, than it did in February and March. Governments, businesses and Canadians themselves have adapted and worked to put measures into place that help keep COVID-19 in Canada on the slow-burn path that we need. With Fall and Winter approaching, families and friends once again want to know if it's safe to gather together indoors.
No individual and no family faces the same set of circumstances, and we will need to make decisions for ourselves. While we cannot eliminate all risk, and the situation may change, I want to offer some advice on how to decide if attending an event is right for you. Canadians should ask themselves some "quick check" questions, two about their risk factors and two about the location of the event or activity they are thinking of attending.
The first two questions that address your own risk, and the risk of those in your household or social bubble are:
- Are you at high risk of developing serious complications if you become infected or if you would have to self-isolate, would this seriously disrupt your upcoming plans, priorities and responsibilities?
- Are there people at high risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19 in your household or in-person contact bubble that you could unintentionally infect?
Then ask yourself two questions about the location of the event:
- Has the host made changes to the location to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including making it easy to maintain a physical distance from others while indoors and requiring others to wear face masks?
- Are you able to adjust your plan at the event or activity, for example by stepping away if it gets crowded, wearing a mask and washing your hands?
Finally, know that there are things you can do before you go to an event or activity that can reduce your risk, and the risk to your loved ones:
- If you have any symptoms, even mild ones, stay home, stay away from others and get tested;
- keep up with effective public health practices such as physical distancing, hand washing and wearing masks or face coverings; and
- limit the number of locations and events or activities you attend in the days and weeks before a planned important activity to reduce the risk of spread during the event. This will provide layers of protection to keep you and those you care about safer.
It is important to remember that just because you know the people at an event outside your household and contact bubble, it does not mean the risk is in any way reduced. Don't let your guard down. Keep following good public health practices.
Have a safe long weekend and let's head into the Fall with confidence that we'll get through this together!
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