GREY-BRUCE – Saugeen First Nation remains under a state of emergency due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the CBC was reporting 94 cases, with a stay-at-home order in effect until at least July 15.
Although the Grey Bruce Health Unit has no jurisdiction within the community, personnel have been working in collaboration with Saugeen First Nation Chief Lester Anoquot and Band Council to address the outbreak.
On Wednesday, June 30, the chief and council declared a state of emergency for at least a two-week period in an effort to control the outbreak. That includes the full closure of all band services and businesses. The situation will be assessed at the end of two weeks to determine if the closure can be lifted.
While the closure is in effect, everyone in the community is being asked to stay home and avoid gatherings of any kind. Facilities are being made available for people who have no permanent residence.
The chief and council have directed the First Nation’s COVID Crisis Team to work with the health unit and other medical experts.
Work being done to control the outbreak includes mass vaccination, providing information on vaccine safety and effectiveness, COVID-19 testing, case and contact management, information and education on isolation and cases, and supporting Infection Prevention and Control.
“The Grey Bruce Health Unit team is proud that the Chief Anoquot and Band Council have offered us the opportunity to collaborate, and we are honoured for their confidence in us as a partner,” said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health (MOH). “We are confident that under the leadership of the chief and band council, and with our shared commitment to health, our teams will be successful in bringing under control the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the community.
“We thank all agencies, partners and individuals for their support in testing, vaccines and other contributions to assist.”
Active cases in Grey-Bruce
As of July 4, there were 191 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, including 10 variants of concern. Thirteen new cases had been reported in the previous 24 hours, in Huron-Kinloss, Meaford, Owen Sound, Saugeen Shores, Saugeen First Nation, Grey Highlands and Georgian Bluffs, with 277 active high-risk contacts.
Eight people with COVID-19 are hospitalized in Grey-Bruce, and six people are hospitalized outside the area.
There are currently no outbreaks in facilities.
The province reported 244 new cases on July 5, with Grey-Bruce being listed among the regions with the highest number of new cases.
Vaccination program in high gear
The Grey-Bruce vaccination program continues to schedule additional clinics, as the province provides extra doses of vaccine to the area.
To date, 166,776 doses of vaccine have been administered.
The Owen Sound hockey hub mass immunization clinic is being relocated to Owen Sound District Secondary School, effective Thursday, July 8.
“We are pleased to support our partners at the Grey Bruce Health Unit in their efforts to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by enabling the use of Owen Sound District Secondary School this summer for a mass immunization clinic,” said Lori Wilder, director of education. “We look forward to opening its doors to our community to offer vaccines at this critical time.”
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times