On Wednesday night, leaders representing the city, emergency services, faith and business communities addressed Canby-area residents to give an update on the local response to the Covid-19 pandemic, broadcast live on Facebook from Canby Foursquare Church.
It was something they have done many times in the past few months — but there was one notable change. Everyone — from the senior pastor of Canby Foursquare, to the division chief of Canby Fire, to the chamber of commerce director, to the mayor of Canby — was wearing a mask.
“As you can see, we’re all wearing them,” Mayor Brian Hodson said. “They’re very stylish. It is for me to protect you, if we engage out and about. Due to my day job, I wear this all day long, and believe you me, I look forward to taking it off at the end of the day. I know they are not comfortable, but at this stage in the game, we should be used to them by now.”
Later, Dr. Sean Stone, the medical director for the Canby, Molalla and Colton fire districts, shared more about why masks are so important: namely, the continuing threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
He began by addressing the claim that the surge in new confirmed cases seen in Canby, Clackamas County and across Oregon in June was merely a function of increased testing. Dr. Stone, who is also a physician for the emergency department at Willamette Falls Oregon City, which sees many of the most serious local cases of Covid-19, said that’s simply not the case.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a huge uptick in cases across the country, and there’s been some myths about that,” he said. “Some people have been under the impression that the uptick in cases is due to more testing. That’s not the reason. We’re actually seeing more cases.”
He said Oregon has been “lucky” during the pandemic so far, compared to other regions of the country that have been much harder hit, but that should not lead anyone to let their guard down.
“This is, in fact, the worst time for us to let our guard down,” he said. “We’re pretty stretched already, in terms of resources in the community. Most of the hospitals are running pretty close to capacity in the Portland metro area.”
The threat of the hospital system becoming overwhelmed is once again at the forefront of concern for public health officials and ER doctors like Stone — with the worry being not only having enough beds to care for and, hopefully, save the lives of Covid patients, but also the other serious or life-threatening emergencies that may occur.
“So, this has a ripple effect through the entire medical infrastructure,” he said. “And it’s important that people understand that Covid is not just about the respiratory infection. It’s about how it’s impacted the entire nation and our medical system.”
Contracting Covid-19 should be a concern not only for the individual themselves, he said, but for whom they may unknowingly transmit it to while asymptomatic or presymptomatic.
“Protecting yourself is not the only motive here,” he said. “The more people that get infected, the more likely we are to lose — in a fatal sense of the word — vulnerable members of our community, including the elderly and the chronically ill.”
The best ways to fight the coronavirus have not changed, Dr. Stone said, and are actually the best ways to combat any contagious infection that spreads the way that this one does: socially isolate, wash your hands frequently, practice good hygiene, wear a mask in public and avoid unnecessary outings.
“It’s frustrating for everybody right now — myself included,” Stone said. “I totally understand. There’s been an enormous impairment to the quality of life of the average individual because of this pandemic — but we’re not out of it yet.
“We’ve got to stay vigilant, we’ve got to stay strong, and we’ve got to continue to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable by not allowing this virus to spread.”
Hear Dr. Stone’s complete remarks in the video below:
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