Kitchener-Waterloo

'Apathy' towards social distancing concerning, regional councillors say

Regional councillors expressed concern on Tuesday that some residents in Waterloo region aren't getting the message about social distancing and self-isolation.

'I don’t think people are really connecting the dots,' Coun. Sean Strickland says

People practise social distancing as they sit on chairs spread apart in a waiting area for take-away food orders at a shopping mall in hopes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday. Councillors in Waterloo region say they're concerned people aren't making sure to physically keep their distance from people. (Sakchai Lalit/Associated Press)

While many people are keeping a physical distance from others, many aren't and that's concerning for some regional councillors.

During a council meeting Tuesday, done through a teleconference phone call, councillors heard an update on the region's response to the COVID-19 pandemic from acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang.

The numbers she provided on Tuesday were the same as the ones that were posted to the region's website on Monday. Wang said new numbers would be released Wednesday morning. Currently the region has 32 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19.

Coun. Tom Galloway thanked Wang and other regional staff who he said are working hard to keep the public informed.

But he also raised concerns that some people in the community weren't taking self-isolation and physical distancing seriously enough.

"I think we're all still seeing some apathy towards the social distancing," he said. "I think most people are into it, but there's still an element of our community that doesn't seem to be engaged in that."

People not 'connecting the dots'

Coun. Sean Strickland echoed Galloway's comment and said it's concerning to hear reports of people who have recently returned from vacation and are not self-isolating.

"I don't think people are really connecting the dots and saying, 'OK, I need to do this because I'm going to help avoid this kind of cascading effect on the number of cases,'" he said.

Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong said he's seen videos of European mayors yelling at their residents to stay home. He said he's not going to do that, but people need to understand the seriousness of the situation.

"People have to understand that their apathy towards this goes directly towards the length of time we have to suffer through this," he said.

Wang said it's important people get the message that they need to keep their distance from each other.

"The evidence that is coming out ... is showing that social distancing is highly effective so really, it's going to be our primary tool," she said.

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