In statement, Ron Kore says he followed the rules, criticizes Town handling of his COVID-19 diagnosis
Ron Kore, the Sobeys franchisee and Pelham Town Councillor who continued to go to work and engage in council business while displaying symptoms of respiratory illness, has broken his media silence of four days.
In a statement dated Saturday, April 25, but emailed to the Voice on Sunday afternoon, Kore asserts that he has followed Niagara Region Public Health guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Kore says that he was informed on Monday, April 13, by Public Health that he had been in the presence of an infected individual. Kore does not specify when this encounter occurred. The Voice has previously reported that those in the room with Councillor Mike Ciolfi during council’s March 23 meeting were contacted by Public Health as a result of Ciolfi’s subsequent positive test result.
When he requested to be tested for the virus, Kore says that he was told by a Public Health nurse that it was unnecessary. He then went to his doctor.
“[The doctor] did make arrangements for me to be tested for the virus,” says Kore. “My test was scheduled for April 17th and the only time I left self-quarantine since the 13th was to get the test administered.”
Three days later, on April 20, Kore says that he was informed by Public Health that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Yet Kore also says that Public Health immediately cleared him to return to work.
“That day I was informed by a nurse at Niagara Region Public Health (‘NRPH’) that I was no longer infectious,” Kore says, “and she had: ‘verified with our medical officer of health at Niagara Region Public Health Dr. Hirji that you can resume your normal activities of work and do not need to self-isolate.’”
Kore says that out of an abundance of caution and notwithstanding NRPH’s recommendations, “I have remained in self-quarantine and will do so for 14 days since testing positive.”
Sobeys had already mandated that Kore remain away from work for 14 days following his positive result.
“As a 63-year-old individual with a history of heart disease, I would never take a risk with my health, the health of my wife, employees or colleagues at Town Hall,” says Kore.
Kore criticizes the Town of Pelham’s handling of his diagnosis.
“The Town’s response on this matter has been reckless and irresponsible. Further speculation is not warranted and would be completely inappropriate.”
Asked to respond, Mayor Marvin Junkin extended his best wishes to Kore, and said, “Town of Pelham staff and Mr. Kore’s colleagues are happy to hear that his health is improving. We at the Town are still waiting for Mr. Kore to reach out to us on a personal level.”
CAO David Cribbs pushed back at Kore’s characterization of the municipality’s response.
“The Town is unaware of any of its statements being irresponsible,” said Cribbs. “The Town has only made statements that attempt to respond to questions from the public and that convey its best information to encourage healthy and safe practices for all members of the community, including elected officials.”
“It would appear that Councillor Kore is either recovered or largely recovered from his recent illness and his return to work will be welcomed,” Cribbs added.
Niagara Region Public Health Communications Consultant Kerri Stoakley confirmed that Public Health told Kore that he did not have to remain in quarantine past April 20, the day that he received his test result.
This was due to the health department’s determination that the illness had already run its course, and consequently Kore’s most infectious period was already behind him, occurring while he continued working and was not in self-isolation, possibly for several weeks.
“The current COVID-19 real time PCR test remains positive for many weeks after one fully resolves from infection,” said Stoakley.
Stoakley would not say what date Kore was presumed to have been infected.
“We can confirm that he was a contact of another case, as Mr. Kore has written. But we can’t comment on details about that other case, nor did we tell Mr. Kore a presumed date of exposure (which would not be stated to Mr. Kore in order to protect the identity of the other case).”
Kore’s full statement appears below.
Statement from Ron Kore, Councillor, Ward 2 – Town of Pelham
Enclosed, please find my statement regarding the speculation in the press over the past few days. I have no further comment.
STATEMENT FROM RON KORE, COUNCILLOR, WARD 2 – TOWN OF PELHAM
PELHAM, ONTARIO – April 25, 2020 – I last attended a Town Council meeting on March 23rd. I sat at a table by myself and at a distance from others in excess of Niagara Region Public Health’s physical distancing recommendations. At that time, my wife and I were regularly monitoring ourselves for symptoms as outlined by Public Health. I took Public Health’s self-assessment test each day and I did not have the symptoms to qualify for a test at that time.
On April 13th, a nurse from Public Health informed me that I had been in contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19. I made a request to be tested but she said I did not require a test. I contacted my physician to discuss my health and consider a test. He did make arrangements for me to be tested for the virus. My test was scheduled for April 17th and the only time I left self-quarantine since the 13th was to get the test administered.
On April 20th I received confirmation that I had tested positive for COVID-19; however, that day I was informed by a nurse at Niagara Region Public Health (“NRPH”) that I was no longer infectious and she had: “verified with our medical officer of health at Niagara Region Public Health Dr. Hirji that you can resume your normal activities of work and do not need to self-isolate.”
To set the record straight, I waive my privacy rights regarding the correspondence Niagara Region Public Health provided me and encourage them to make public their recommendations to me about returning to work.
Out of an abundance of caution and notwithstanding NRPH’s recommendations, I have remained in self-quarantine and will do so for 14 days since testing positive.
As a 63-year-old individual with a history of heart disease, I would never take a risk with my health, the health of my wife, employees or colleagues at Town Hall.
The Town’s response on this matter has been reckless and irresponsible. Further speculation is not warranted and would be completely inappropriate.
Updated April 26, 7 PM, with comment from Niagara Region Public Health.
Updated April 26, 9 PM, with comment from Pelham officials.