SIMS: COVID testing center moves another sign we’re getting back to normal

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Fortunately, it’s over with test kits and with basketball and aquafitness.

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In another sign that we are getting back to normal, London’s biggest health care center announced on Thursday that the city’s COVID-19 assessment center was leaving a neighborhood leisure facility.

Starting Monday, after more than 880 days at the Optimist Community Center in Carling Heights, the London Health Sciences Center is moving the assessment center to the smaller building 24, just off the intersection of Commissioners and County Roads from the west on the vast grounds of the Victoria Hospital.

The center has seen more than 228,000 people since the start of the pandemic. But the volume fell from 600 people a day to a trickle of 60 a day once provincial testing guidelines were changed.

And so, ultimately, Carling Heights can be Carling Heights again. The city says it needs to spruce up the place a bit by replacing the floors, bringing the indoor pool back into use, and giving the whole thing a deep clean before it reopens Oct. 3.

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While the announcement didn’t come as a shock, it was further upbeat news after a carefree summer when COVID-19 was, for most people, more of an annoyance than the once crushing crisis. After two years of vigilance and wide vaccination coverage, as a community we seek to live with the virus that just won’t go away.

Wear a mask? Granted, they’re still needed for visitors to places like long-term care homes or a hospital, but you can pretty much forget about them anywhere else.

Skip the concert? Certainly not. These tickets were purchased two years ago. Skip the party? No chance. Weddings, graduations, family reunions? Yes please.

Isolate after possible exposure. Let’s see if I get sick first. Maybe I’ll wear this mask.

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What a difference a year makes. Last summer, we were in the middle of a vaccination campaign. Canadians still could not cross the US border for non-essential travel. Omicron wasn’t even a thing yet.

But Alex Summers, Middlesex-London’s medical officer, is unwell. “When I reflect on our community right now, I totally understand, also a little worried sometimes, that we may be acting like COVID isn’t here to stay when in fact it really is. “, did he declare.

Summers said we were entering “a new, but different status quo…. where we will still have COVID present” and “where we will see oscillating levels of COVID activity in our community”.

We have heard this story before. More people will catch COVID once the weather gets colder and we spend more time indoors. “It will be an ongoing challenge for all of us to remain vigilant against a truly deadly virus that will continue to be a threat,” he said.

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Summers tries to be pragmatic. He recognizes that people are tired and just want to move on. “The reality is that our energy to respond to a challenge as a response to a crisis has a time limit,” he said.

“As we get two and a half years into the response, of course it’s not going to look like an emergency response because it’s not anymore. What we have now is a new challenge that will never go away.

But we know how to deal with it, thanks to these routine public health habits, and just as we do every year with the flu or with childhood illnesses like mumps or measles. “That’s the kind of space we need with COVID,” Summers said.

After more than two years, we have learned that there is usually a twist in the pandemic story. If there is a new variant or a huge increase in cases, we may need to hide. We must be prepared to continue to assess our own risks.

What will keep us on track is what got us this far: routine vaccinations. Following them gave us protection last year and they remain the best protection now, Summers said.

“Honestly, it’s the easiest, safest, easiest way to buy yourself a bunch of protection that doesn’t necessarily mean you change the way you live your life,” he said.

And that’s the goal. Just as Carling Heights returns to its original purpose, we can continue with ours.

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