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Kingston, Ont. public health reinforcing masking recommendation amidst rising respiratory illness

Click to play video: 'Chief Medical officer of health recommends masks at indoor public settings while hospitals deal with increasing respiratory illness patients'
Chief Medical officer of health recommends masks at indoor public settings while hospitals deal with increasing respiratory illness patients
WATCH: Kingston Health Sciences Centre is operating at 125-per cent capacity , Quinte Health Care is at 135-per cent capacity – Nov 14, 2022

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington public health board reinforced Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer recommendation that masks be worn in all indoor public settings at their Monday afternoon meeting.

The strong recommendation by Dr. Kieran Moore to wear masks indoors, including at schools and child care settings, to help reduce the chances of children getting sick is being welcomed by local health care officials.

“We’re hoping that we get the message out there, with this high influenza rate this year, that we promote everybody getting back into the habit of wearing masks,” Denis Doyle, board chair of KFL&A public health said.

Global News spoke to Kingston residents, many of whom were in favour of a mask recommendation rather than a mandate from Ontario’s top doctor.

Read more: Top Ontario doctor to ask public to mask up as respiratory illnesses rage: sources

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“I think I’m good with a recommendation. I think a lot of people are really good at putting the masks on,” said Kingston resident Eileen Mackey.

“Dr. Moore doesn’t think we need a mandate. That’s fine, but I’ll wear it on the recommendation,” Alex Bien told Global News.

“I agree with the mandate, recommendation, anything that we can do to prevent these flus and stop the hospitalizations,” said fellow resident Linda Paquette.

According to Kingston Health Sciences Centre, hospitalization rates are proving to be a challenge with COVID, influenza and RSV hitting the population, and children in particular — the pediatric intensive care unit is operating at 125-per cent capacity.

Read more: Ontario Premier Doug Ford urges masking, stops short of imposing mandate

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“We’re seeing an adult increase in flu, COVID numbers and in our pediatric population, a significant increase in children requiring admission or care within an outpatient setting,” said chief nurse executive Jason Hann

That leaves the hospital wrestling with the challenge of finding room for all those sick people.

“We have had patients in hallways, in sun rooms because we need to make sure that we get those patients to the most comfortable place rather than sitting in an emergency room,” Hann added.

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It’s a similar tale at Quinte Health Care. QHC’s president and CEO says they are operating at 135 per cent capacity and hopes that people follow Dr. Moore’s ‘strong recommendation’ to wear masks.

“I think far and away what’s more important to me and the most important to me is the idea of personal responsibility,” said president and CEO of QHC, Stacey Daub.

With an early start to the respiratory illness season, perseverance will also be needed to keep the health-care system off life support.

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