Like families around the country and around the world, Kelly Keeler won’t be able to celebrate Mother’s Day face-to-face with her mom.
On Friday, she chose to do the next best thing: Embarrass her mother with some well-deserved public praise.
Carol O’Meara, safely ensconsed in a Brockville seniors’ apartment, has been busy making masks, caps, scrub bags and headbands free of charge for health-care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, her daughter said.
“I took a whole bag full over to the hospital the other day,” said Keeler, who gets emotional at the thought of being separated from her mother because of necessary pandemic precautions.
“She’s just an amazing woman,” said Keeler.
“With Mother’s Day and whatnot, I just wanted her to be acknowledged for doing her part.”
Public health officials continue to stress that doing one’s part in the battle against COVID-19 means maintaining physical distance.
Earlier this week, medical officer of health Dr. Paula Stewart encouraged area residents to celebrate Mother’s Day, but in a way that complies with guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the deadly virus.
Officials at the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit later reminded residents that social gatherings of more than five people are still prohibited by the province.
“This Mother’s Day will be different for many of us,” health unit officials wrote in a media release.
“The usual brunches, spa days, or family get-togethers will have to be postponed for this year. But we can still celebrate Mom while protecting our loved ones and our community.”
They suggested a variety of creative solutions to the problem, including: “Have Mom join your meal virtually.”
While going for a drive together may seem like a good idea, it’s not recommended if people do not live in the same household as their mother.
“If you do have to share a vehicle, take precautions such as limiting passengers, having the person from the other household sit in the back seat, rolling down windows, washing hands before and after (the) trip, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and wearing a cloth mask as an added measure,” health unit officials added.
As of Friday afternoon, the health unit reported 314 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the tri-county area, including 43 deaths.
The total, based on data collected at 4 p.m. Thursday, was up by one case from the previous health unit tally, but lagged slightly behind the provincial count, which reported 319 cases locally.
The new case recorded by the health unit was a health-care worker. That addition, as well as a correction from previous reports, showed there were 66 cases in the community, 71 among health-care workers and 177 in long-term care or retirement residences.
Of the 43 deaths, 40 were in long-term care and three in the community.
Reached Friday, O’Meara said she was embarrassed by the attention.
“I was just keeping busy and doing what I can do,” she said.
“We’ve got a lot of time on our hands and I’ve got bits and pieces over here and I’ve sewed a lot in the past.”
O’Meara stressed she is one of many people who have been donating items during the pandemic crisis, adding people have been donating material for her work.
Asked how many masks she has made, she said: “I quit counting at 400.”