August 12 COVID-19 Update

Current COVID-19 Situation in Ross River  

Ross River Dena Council advises all community members that as of 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 12, 2021 the number of active cases involving members of our community has increased to five after three new cases were confirmed today.

Two of the new positives were linked to previous cases, and one case is still under investigation. Contact tracing is under way.

Contact tracing is led by Yukon Communicable Disease Control (YCDC) in Whitehorse and involves reaching out to those who were in direct contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. If you are contacted, a representative of YCDC will play a key role to guide you on next steps and will offer important advice and support based on your situation.

All three of the new cases are now self-isolating in Ross River, and the two cases that were confirmed last week are self-isolating in Whitehorse.

Based on the current spike of COVID-19 in our community, Council is asking everyone to take every possible precaution in the days ahead to help keep our elders, our families and the most vulnerable members of our community safe.

While in Ross River please continue to: 

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Stay six feet apart 
  • Do not participate in gatherings
  • Do not visit with others
  • Self-isolate after travel if unvaccinated 

In addition to the new cases, Council is aware that multiple community members are respectfully self-isolating following numerous exposures to a positive case last week. Thank you to everyone who is making this important sacrifice to help keep Ross River safe.

Council is concerned, however, that there are some individuals who are not following self-isolation guidelines after travelling outside of the territory.

While this safety measure is no longer mandated by the territorial government, Ross River Dena Council is still asking community members to self-isolate for 14 days after travel if unvaccinated. This is primarily due to the current Level 5 (EXTREME) risk level in our community, which is in place as a reminder that while the vaccination rate in the Yukon may be over 80 per cent, the vaccination rate in Ross River remains under 50 per cent – still the lowest vaccination rate in the territory, and the highest risk of infection of any rural population.

High-risk behaviour of this nature is strongly discouraged – especially when you consider that almost all of our current COVID-19 cases today can be linked back to one traveller who visited Ross River three weeks ago.

With this in mind, we are asking all community members to please actively encourage respectful behaviour, to discourage high-risk behaviour and to please contact the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at 747-0099 or the Ross River Health Centre at 969-4444 if you observe anyone who is feeling unwell and may be exhibiting one or more symptoms of COVID-19.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms please self-isolate immediately and contact the Health Centre at 969-4444 to arrange for a COVID-19 test.

Rapid Testing Coming to Ross River

Based on growing concerns from community members that COVID-19 is now spreading to more households in Ross River, Council submitted a request for rapid testing assistance from the Yukon Government. Today we received a response indicating that rapid testing will be returning to our community early next week.

Rapid testing can generate results in approximately 15 minutes – much faster than the normal 24-48-hour turnaround time. It is also less invasive than standard tests. 

Another important feature of rapid testing is that you do not need to be showing symptoms in order to get a test, unlike with the standard test.

Starting next week, anyone in the community who may be concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in the community will be encouraged to go get a test – no appointment will be necessary, simply bring your health card (preferred) to the clinic and be sure to practice the  Safe 6 +1  if there is a lineup outside.

Watch for more information about the time and location of the clinic in the days ahead.

Help Us Stay Connected To Vulnerable Members

While there is ongoing support for the individuals in self-isolation (Ross River COVID-19 Support Line), there may be some individuals who do not have phones, may be unaware of the dangers and/or may be showing symptoms.

If you observe a community member who is sick and is not self-isolating, please call the COVID-19 Support Line at 747-0099 and we can help by providing temporary cel phones and self-isolation support for individuals in need.

Travel Advisory – Do Not Visit Ross River At This Time

We can all help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by following travel advisories that have been put in place by Yukon First Nations and municipalities.

With the current outbreak impacting families in Watson Lake, Carmacks and Faro, Council is asking Yukoners and travellers from outside of the territory to please continue to respect the travel advisory for Ross River, which reads as follows:   

  • NO VISITORS – Please do not visit Ross River at this time;  
  • ROSS RIVER CITIZENS: ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY – Ross River citizens are asked to respect all travel advisories currently in effect and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our neighbouring communities of Watson Lake, Faro and Carmacks. Please refrain from travelling to these communities unless it is absolutely necessary (i.e. for medical reasons) 

Please visit the Council of Yukon First Nations website for more information about current travel advisories.

Current Risk Level 5 (Extreme)  

As of July 30, Ross River continues to have the lowest vaccination rate in Yukon, with approximately 45% of our population now fully vaccinated. In addition, there are multiple neighbouring communities with positive cases, and COVID-19 is also present in Ross River. For this reason, the current COVID-19 Risk Level for Ross River remains at Level 5 (Extreme) and the following COVID-19 safety measures remain in effect:  

  • The Dena General Store will be closed to the public, however community members can place an order for pickup or delivery of groceries to your door – please call 969-2280 and/or send an email to to place your order; 
  • The Dena General Store will now be closed on Sundays and Tuesdays for cleaning and other necessary measures; 
  • Tu-Lidlini Petroleum advises that the gas station will have reduced hours from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. until further notice and that customers are strongly encouraged to use the Cardlock system to pay for fuel; 
  • Banking services will be available at the Dena General Store on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. – services are provided at the door, as the store is currently closed to the public. 
  • The following travel advisory is now in effect:  
    • NO VISITORS – Please do not visit Ross River at this time;  
    • ROSS RIVER CITIZENS: ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY – Ross River citizens are asked to respect all travel advisories currently in effect and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our neighbouring communities of Watson Lake, Faro and Carmacks. Please refrain from travelling to these communities unless it is absolutely necessary (i.e. for medical reasons) Ross River Dena Council offices will remain closed to the public until further notice; 
  • Ross River Dena Council employees are now in the first phase of a three-phase Re-Opening Plan, which allows access to up to three staff members into RRDC buildings at one time; Ross River Dena Council will continue to engage with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Department of Health and Social Services and the COVID Response Unit to help strengthen community-level support. 

These measures were introduced in response to the outbreak in Whitehorse and the presence of COVID-19 in multiple communities, including Ross River. Council continues to work with territorial health authorities and our neighbouring communities to monitor the situation and takes this matter very seriously. 

Other COVID-19 Considerations

Here are some additional considerations and resources to help keep Ross River safe:

  • If you or someone you know had really mild symptoms and recently tested negative for COVID-19 this is good news, however it is not the end of the story. If symptoms get worse in the days (and weeks) following a test, it’s a good idea to self-isolate and call the Health Centre at 969-4444 to arrange for another test – when it comes to COVID-19, it’s way better to be safe than sorry;
  • For the latest COVID-19 Self-Isolation Guidelines:;
  • If you see someone who was known to be self-isolating but may not be following the current the self-isolation guidelines, you can report this activity here;
  • If you live with others and are not able to self-isolate, please inform the Health Centre or Ross River Dena Council and efforts will be made to arrange for temporary self-isolation options; and
  • Anyone seeking mental health and wellness support are encouraged to call the LifeWorks Crisis Support Line at 1-844-751-2133 (open 24 hours, 7 days a week) or call (867) 332-5468 to reach the Mental Health, Counselling and Crisis Support Line for Ross River, Pelly Crossing, Carmacks and Faro citizens.

Volunteers Needed

Ross River Dena Council has established the RRDC COVID-19 Action Plan Working Group to advise Council and help coordinate COVID-19 community outreach and support efforts during an unprecedented public health emergency. For more information about the Working Group or if you would like to volunteer and help make a difference, please send an email to the Working Group Co-Chairs Verna Nukon at and/or Dylan Loblaw at You can also reach us by calling the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at 747-0099 at any time. 

Thank you,

Ross River Dena Council