Parts of Vaudreuil-Soulanges fall into ‘red-zone’ for COVID-19
PHOTO COURTESY QUEBEC.CA
The Montérégie region, which includes Vaudreui-Soulanges, is currently under a combined Level 3 Orange Alert and Level 4 Red Maximum Alter for the territories that are also part of the CMM.
Despite the misgivings of Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon and the letter he had previously sent to Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dubé, his city will maintain its status as being part of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM). The letter was sent just prior to the province declaring Montreal and the CMM as being in a red zone due to the rise in COVID-19 infections.
An overlap in zones means 11 cities in the MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges including Vaudreuil-Dorion, Terrasse-Vaudreuil, Saint-Lazare, Hudson and l'Île-Perrot are part of the CMM. While the majority of the Montérégie is currently zoned orange, the CMM is zoned red with the bulk of the cases, 40 per cent, being recorded in Longueil.
Montérégie Public Health Director Dr. Julie Loslier said while she understands no city wants to be in the COVID-19 ‘red zone’ no perfect map exists and 11 cities in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC are considered to be part of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) which falls under strict public health guidelines for the next 28 days.
Update from Public Health
In an online press conference held September 29 by Montérégie Public Health Director Dr. Julie Loslier, she gave an update on the situation in the region and answered question from area journalists concerning the recent red-zoning of parts of the Montérégie.
As reported in The Journal September 24, Mayor Pilon noted in his letter that the Montérégie covers a large and diverse geographic region that includes areas that have broad territorial differences. Its population is 1.5 million covering over 11,000 square kilometres. Vaudreuil-Soulanges lies on the westernmost portion of the region.
“The choice of including some territories in the CMM is a difficult one,” Loslier said. “When you look at small territories, a small number of (virus) cases can rapidly change their zone to yellow or orange. As we saw in the first wave, it's hard to predict how infections will progress and what the issues will be.”
Loslier said the zoning is not a punishment but an opportunity to reinforce the measures being implemented to maintain Vaudreuil-Soulanges' current comparatively low rate of infections.
Feedback from Mayor Pilon
“I can't understand their reasoning because when you look at the numbers, we're not at the same (infection) rate as the rest of Montreal,” said Pilon.
As of press time, Vaudreuil-Dorion had 324 confirmed cases while Valleyfield – which is not in the red zone – had 579 cases.*
“I'm very happy for Valleyfield (not to be zoned red) but I want to know why.”
Pilon said all public health measures in Vaudreuil-Dorion have been met with significant changes made to the library and town hall in keeping with the safety measures.
“Everything is by the book,” he said. “I don't have anything against the extra measures but somebody has to explain why they zone us as part of the CMM. If Vaudreuil-Soulanges had enough cases to justify being in the red zone, I would not say a word.”
Pilon said he felt the provincial government was doing a good job overall, despite the zoning issues. “It hasn't been easy,” he added.
No perfect map
When asked about the economic ramifications of the zoning compared to other towns with higher numbers of virus cases who kept their commercial establishments open, Loslier reiterated there was no perfect way to draw the area maps. “We have to go with what makes more sense and globally, the rates in the CMM are higher than outside, and there are exceptions everywhere.”
Public health officials are saying this latest outbreak is more complex and contact tracing is proving to be more difficult than the first wave. The March outbreak occurred during colder weather when people's social 'bubbles' were easier to pinpoint. With warm weather activities and the start of the school year there has been an increase of infections among a younger subset of the population.
Collective effort needed
Loslier wrapped the conference by saying we've reached a turning point. “We have to make a collective effort,” she stressed of the need to reduce social contact. “It's difficult for everybody. It's a lot of sacrifice for people to give up social gatherings, especially because it's the second time. But now it's crucial to make that effort for ourselves, our elders, and our children because we want them to go to school. Each of us has to part of the collective effort.”