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As the medical officer of health for a region in Ontario hard-hit by the pandemic, Dr. Lawrence Loh has spent more than a year making difficult decisions and enacting strict measures in a quest to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Region of Peel in Ontario has faced a punishing third wave with a positivity rate of 18.5 per cent as of Thursday morning, nearly three times higher than the province as a whole. Dr. Loh, who has been in his role since March 2020 when the pandemic began, attributes the region’s high case counts to the types of industries located there. “Peel has had a significant challenge with work that cannot be done from home,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday. “We have a large manufacturing, warehousing and distributing sector that has grown up around Pearson airport.” Because of the essential nature of the work, Loh said a lot of these businesses have not been affected by provincial closures and shutdowns. What’s more, he said, many of the workers in these industries come from racialized or new immigrant communities and they are precariously employed to begin with, which means they’re less likely to miss work if they’re feeling unwell.

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