General News

Warden White discusses the County’s role and response to COVID-19

April 2, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Questions by MARNI WALSH

The Shelburne Free Press would like to thank Dufferin County Warden, Darren White, who took some time to respond to interview questions about the County’s role in the fight to contain Covid19:

Q: Was Dufferin County prepared to meet a pandemic crisis prior to 2020? What systems were in place?

A: Yes, the County has always had a very robust emergency management plan. Part of that plan is structured around a health emergency such as a pandemic. The County regularly practices different scenarios within that plan, at a minimum on a annual basis, with staff as well as elected representatives, local service agencies, first responders, the hospital, the military etc. and also coordinates with the lower tiers and their emergency plans. 

Q: When did those systems kick into action in response to the threat of COVID-19?

A: When an emergency is occurring, the County will operate its Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC is trained to respond effectively and quickly to emerging crisis. In the case of covid-19 the EOC was operating in early March in a monitoring capacity as events overseas were evolving and it became likely that there may be a world wide incident. 

Q: Who is in charge of the response?

A: Once the Towns of Orangeville and Shelburne declared emergencies, the EOC became a co-ordinating body, and is now fully operational as a result of the declaration of emergency by the County late last week. 

Q: Who is on the response team and what are their responsibilities?

A: Currently, under the declaration of emergency, the County Warden and the “Incident Commander,” which in this case is Dufferin County Chief Administrative Officer, Sonya Pritchard, are in charge. That being said, there is a fully operational and well trained team in the EOC working during this crisis. Most senior management from the County of Dufferin hold an incident management role – which range from departments dedicated to Communications, Logistics, Finance, Human Resources, Planning etc.  Each team has a number of staff, and takes on specific tasks, and is able to be modified and retailed quickly as events unfold, if needed. 

Q: What is the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Dufferin County?

A: The current status is that the County and five lower tiers have declared emergencies.  All municipalities have shut down or scaled back non essential services and closed facilities that are not currently required. There is a drive through testing and assessment center set up at the Orangeville hospital and it operates daily. The County is co-ordinating with local service agencies, health care, Emergency Medical Services and Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health. 

Q: What is the current rate of increase in Dufferin County?

A: Up to date information on projections and potential peak dates etc,. can be obtained from Public Health. ( As of March 31st there were 40 positive diagnosis of COVID-19 in Dufferin-Wellington- Guelph. 

Q: Can you share any good news in terms of equipment and support for our local health teams?

A: It’s my understanding that local hospitals are on standby and ready for admission of cases of Covid 19 should that become necessary.  All know cases currently are self isolating at home.  There is equipment and space at the ready. With regards to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE,) there is currently a drive for new, unopened, proper PPE suitable for medical use.  Headwaters Hospitals website has details on drop off locations and times. 

(Items needed include: Items needed include: protective gloves, ear-loop masks, N95 masks, gowns, vented goggles. To donate visit: )

Q: What final word would you like to give to the citizens from the County of Dufferin? 

A: As Warden, I strongly advise people to heed the warnings given by health officials to stay home, avoid unnecessary outings and practice social distancing. Residents taking care of themselves will help us take care of others. Our team is working diligently to protect our residents and our County. 

For Covid 19 assessment information visit:



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