COVID in 2022: Canada’s newest Jewish medical officer of health explains what’s to come

Image supplied by the Regional Municipality of York

In November, as Omicron emerged as the new dominant strain of COVID-19, York Region in Ontario appointed Dr. Barry Pakes as their new medical officer of health. The region covers nine urban centres and more than a million people, including Canada’s densest Jewish community, in Thornhill. So the fact that Pakes is an observant Jew who studied, in part, at a yeshiva, and wears a kippah, gives him a unique advantage to liaise with local Jewish institutions and organizations when discussing how to fight the pandemic.

Hanukkah gatherings led to outbreaks across the community, especially in schools that had to be closed. Now, large families travelling over the holidays could add to the skyrocketing statistics that are defining Omicron’s winter surge.

Pakes joins today to explain how the Jewish community can combat the virus, what to expect from the Omicron variant and what the new year looks like from a public health perspective.

What we talked about:

  • Find a vaccination clinic in York Region at
  • Read “COVID cases have kept rising at Jewish schools in York Region during November 2021” at
  • Listen to Barry Pakes discuss the pandemic in April 2021 on Bonjour Chai


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