current pandemic protection policy against COVID-19. “These are solid and clear recommenda- tions about masking,” Dr. Roumeliotis said. Surgical quality and N95 protective face masks are reserved at this time for health- care workers and emergency responders who must deal in close contact with people during either hospital or accident situations. But some stores are now able to offer bulk packages of disposable face masks, and there are directions on various government websites for making a suitable face mask for social distancing needs. Any face mask should be snug fitting and cover both the nose and the mouth to prevent the wearer from spreading any bacteria should they cough or sneeze. A homemade mask meant to be reusable should be easy to clean without losing its shape or snugness. Dr., Roumeliotis also noted that wearing a face mask while out and about does not mean residents should forget about the need for social distancing, including avoiding crowd situations of five people or more, or to fail to practice proper hygienic handwashing.

&/#3&'r#3*&'4 ELEVEN CV19 DEATHS The number of confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 in Prescott-Russell is now 11. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) announced that the death toll from COVID-19 at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Plantagenet is 11. The provin- cial coroner’s office confirmed over the May 23 weekend that a recent death of another resident at the nursing home was the result of COVID-19 infection. OPEN TESTING FOR COVID-19 Anyone in the Five Counties region or the City of Cornwall can now go to one of the six assessment centres for testiong for COVID-19. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) confirmed that, following a recent provincial declaration, testing is open to anyone now, whether or not they have any symp- toms. Residents should check the EOHU website to determine if the nearest assessment centre allows drop-ins or requires appointments. EOHU officials also ask that residents avoiding making regular daily visits for retesting, to avoid overwhelming the laboratory. If staying at home all the time isn’t an option, then a face mask is mandatory says the chief medical health officer for Eastern Ontario. “It’s quite important that we don’t forget,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical health officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), during his regular regional media teleconference. Dr. Roumeliotis was commenting on recent announcements from both federal and provincial health officials on the need for anyone going outside on errands or other business to wear some type of face mask over their mouth and nose in obedience to

Remember to put on a face mask when outside and away from home to protect against COVID-19 contagion during the current pandemic. —stock photo


Churchgoers in Prescott-Russell continue to worship during the pandemic, though at a distance through either pre-recorded sermons or online services set up by their local church. With the warmer weather now and summer on the horizon, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is looking at the feasibility of «drive-in» church services as another alternative now for local congregations and parishes. —stock photo

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The EOHU has now begun looking into the feasibility of local churches being allowed to hold “drive-in services” following a recent provincial government decision to amend the current pandemic policy against large gatherings of people to allow for “drive-in churches,” where such an activity might be feasible. A drive-in church service would require a large parking area to accommodate all who might wish to attend, and one condition would be that all participants must stay inside their vehicles during the service. When the service is over, they then drive away. At no point before, during, or after the service does anyone get out of a vehicle to mingle with others. The EOHU is waiting for feedback from local church leaders on the idea before deve- loping police guidelines for drive-in services.

Drive-in church services might be an alternative for local congregations to worship during the pandemic as the warmer summer weather approaches. “I’ve spoken to local church leaders about this,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical health officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHUS). “There wouldn’t be any com- munion, of course.” Since the provincial declaration of a health state of emergency in April, churches were ordered closed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection resulting from large groups of people gathering inside for worship services and other events. Church leaders have responded by organizing online and video services for their congregations.

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