The Orillia District Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario and Canadian governments, have launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative. The Orillia District Chamber will distribute free rapid antigen tests for employees of small and medium-sized businesses in Orillia and Lake Country.
“Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade have been indispensable resources in their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Public health and the health of our economy are interdependent. That is why our Chamber is proud to distribute rapid tests to small businesses in Orillia and Lake Country. We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely,” said chamber president Bill Ecklund.
“It’s been very well received. We had a lot of people registering overnight,” said Erika Famenko, the chamber’s membership and communications coordinator. They have 100,000 individual test kits to distribute. Each business can order a two week supply and reorder as needed.
Allan Lafontaine, executive director of the chamber said it’s about giving customers and employees confidence. With one day of operation, time slots to pick up test kits are filled to midweek. The chamber will be getting new supplies regularly.
The tests are distributed by participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade in Ontario. Businesses (including non-chamber members) with 150 employees or less are welcome to participate in their program. The goal is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace which might otherwise be missed, helping to curb the spread in the workplace, at home and around the community.
The initiative was successfully piloted in the Waterloo region by the Greater Kitchener Waterloo and Cambridge Chambers of Commerce in partnership with Communitech, the governments of Ontario and Canada. The pilot delivered 120,000 kits to nearly 1,400 businesses in the region and up to 30,000 employees in essential workplaces are receiving regular screening twice weekly in the Waterloo region. The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative builds upon the success of this existing program.
In Orillia, tests can be ordered online.
The local program is being conducted in partnership with chambers across Muskoka (including Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Hunstville/Lake of Bays). Tests are being shipped and warehoused in Orillia and distributed to each Muskoka Chamber.
Businesses can make an appointment to pick up tests from their closest Chamber. All they need to do is sign up, watch a short video, sign a declaration and waiver, and designated workplace supervisors can then supervise staff testing themselves on site. Businesses must also use the online reporting tool provided by the Chambers. Chambers will only know the types and amounts of tests used and not the results of any tests.
If a test results in a preliminary positive for COVID-19, the employee will be required to leave the workplace, arrange for a PCR Test within 24 hours at an approved COVID-19 assessment site and self-isolate until a confirmatory test result is received.
The Orillia-Muskoka program is part the Provincial Antigen Screening Program designed to decrease the effects of COVID-19 on people and the economy. This includes stay at home measures, education campaigns on how to stay safe, significant testing and tracing capacity, and a vaccination distribution plan.
(Images Supplied) Main: Orillia District Chamber of Commerce president Bill Ecklund and executive director Allan Lafontaine.