January 19 COVID-19 Update

Current COVID-19 Situation in Ross River

Ross River Dena Council advises all community members that as of Wednesday, January 19 at 7:00 p.m. there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community, as indicated by the Government of Yukon case count by community. 

Council is also aware of at least three new presumptive positive cases that were detected using rapid tests over the past five days, and has also learned of multiple members who now reside in Whitehorse that have tested positive over the past seven days.

While these numbers provide us with a general indication that COVID-19 is still in our community, the Government of Yukon advises that case count information no longer reflects the number of people who are actually sick with COVID-19 in Yukon and therefore Ross River Dena Council will no longer be using case count information to guide safety measures at the community level. 

Council instead will be tracking the number of calls to the COVID-19 Support Line, monitoring territorial and regional outbreak information, monitoring current hospital bed capacity in Whitehorse and Watson Lake, and inviting community members to reach out to Council and/or the COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099 with their rapid test results, possible exposures and/or information about fellow community members who may be sick and are in need of assistance.

As we move forward, Council encourages all community members to continue following territorial guidance and restrictions, continue following community-level safety measures, remain diligent, and support one another. 

Based on current situation in across the North and across Canada, we should anticipate that Omicron will be visiting our community – and our neighbouring communities – for many more weeks to come. Working together, we can all help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep Ross River families, our elders and the most vulnerable members of our community safe.

No Longer Announcing Every Case

As announced on January 12, Council will continue to provide updates, however it will no longer be necessary to announce every confirmed case recognizing that the territorial case count information no longer reflects what is happening in the community. 

Instead, we will continue to update the Ross River COVID-19 Dashboard regularly, and will continue to post announcements about upcoming vaccination opportunities, and any updates to territorial guidelines, travel restrictions and community-level safety measures as a way to help us all stay prepared for the challenges ahead. 

Thank you to everyone who is working so hard to keep our community safe. This is a critical time for us to work together, support one another and ensure all of our citizens have the resources and support necessary to get through this very difficult situation.

Community Notepad:

  • Stay Prepared, Stay Connected, Stay Safe – Council advises that the COVID-19 situation in Yukon is expected to worsen, however it is important to remain calm, and to continue following the guidelines put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. By washing your hands, wearing a mask, and staying a safe distance from others, you are significantly reducing the risk that you will become infected, or will infect others.
  • New Public Health Measures In Effect Across Yukon – On Tuesday the Government of Yukon announced new measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the territory. This includes new restrictions for bars and restaurants, along with new guidelines on sporting activities and gathering. To read the announcement, click here. To watch a video of the press conference, click here.
  • Monitoring Your Symptoms– A major concern with Omicron is that some individuals have had such mild symptoms they do not believe they have COVID-19 until a rapid test suddenly indicates they are positive – which means they may be fine but could have unknowingly spread it to others.
  • Unconfirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Ross River – It has been brought to Council’s attention that multiple community members have become sick over the past week but did not wish to call the Health Centre, and did not wish to take a rapid test, which means these individuals may (or may not) have COVID-19, and may (or may not) be following self-isolation guidelines. While testing is a choice, not following self-isolation guidelines will put our families, our elders and the most vulnerable members of the community at risk. Council asks, if you or someone you know is aware of a community member who is feeling sick – even with mild symptoms – but does not want to stay in their home, please reach out with the following information: 
    • If the member is vaccinated, encourage him/her to self-isolate for seven days or longer (should be symptom free for two days to exit self-isolation);
    • If the member is not vaccinated, encourage him/her to self-isolate for 10 days or longer (should be symptom free for two days to exit self-isolation);
    • Ask if he/she would like assistance with grocery shopping, picking up medications, or other supplies – if so, call the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099;
    • See if they would be open to having a rapid test delivered to their door, it is optional, but may be helpful for everyone in the household who is concerned about the situation – if so, call the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099.
  • Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated – Please remember that whether you are vaccinated or not, anyone can become infected with Omicron, and anyone can spread Omicron to anyone else. The only difference between those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated is that once infected, according to public health data from across Canada, unvaccinated individuals are more likely to be hospitalized than those who are vaccinated.
  • COVID-19 Risk Level Remains at 5 (Extreme) – On Friday, January 7, 2022 the COVID-19 Risk Level for Ross River was increased to Level 5 (Extreme) which enhanced community level safety measures as part of our ongoing effort to keep our elders, our families and the most vulnerable members of our community safe during this historic global pandemic. This step was taken for multiple reasons:
    • Omicron is far more transmissible than previous variants of COVID-19;
    • The number of confirmed positive cases and presumptive positive cases in Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Faro, Ross River and across the Yukon continues to rise;
    • Ross River has the lowest vaccination rate in the Yukon (67% of our population is partially vaccinated, 62% is fully vaccinated and 14% have received boosters);
    • Fully-vaccinated members of the community can still become infected and spread Omicron to others; 
    • Unvaccinated members of the community are more likely to experience severe illness than those who are vaccinated;
    • Ross River has a small Health Centre very limited emergency response capacity due to staffing shortages;
    • The Yukon Government has advised that contact tracing is no longer manageable for Yukon Communicable Disease Control, therefore contact tracing will be the responsibility of those who become sick (anyone who tests positive will be responsible for contacting the individuals they came into contact with over the previous 72 hours);
    • The Government of Yukon is no longer asking individuals who are sick to arrange for a standard COVID-19 test, which means community-level case count information is expected to become less reliable.
  • Ross River School Update– Following last week’s Government of Yukon release of an Exposure Notice for parents, guardians, students and staff at Ross River School who attended the school on January 5-7, parents were advised that remote learning would continue until January 21, and that students should prepare to return to the classroom on Monday, January 24. Council does not support the decision to return to the classroom in the midst of an historic outbreak and requests that remote learning remain in place for the rest of the month. Should the Government of Yukon choose to re-open the school, every effort will be made by Council to help students, teachers and parents detect COVID-19 at home or in the classroom. Beginning next week, Council will provide students, parents, teachers and all members of the staff with as many rapid tests as we can, if the Government of Yukon is not in a position to do so. To request a rapid test, teachers, parents and students should call the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099.
  • Upcoming Vaccination Opportunities – The following clinics are planned for this week (no appointments necessary):
    • Thursday, January 20 – Vaccination clinic for Adults (ages 18+) – 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    • Friday, January 21 – Vaccination clinic for Adults (ages 18+) – 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
    • Friday, January 21 – Vaccination clinic for Youth (ages 5-11) – 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Dena General Store Update – The store continues to offer pick-up and delivery services from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. To place an order please call (867) 969-2280 or send an email to dena.general@northwestel.net and someone will respond as soon as possible. It is strongly encouraged that community members request delivery services this week as this is the safest way to shop locally.
  • Canada Post Update – The Post Office at Dena General Store will be open from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Monday to Friday however mail pick-up will be at the front door only. It is strongly encouraged that community members drive to the store and wait in your vehicles, if possible.
  • Banking Update – 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 will be provided at the door.  
  • Fuel Pump Update – Tu Lidlini Petroleum is open from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and asks drivers to take precautions by keeping hand sanitizer in your vehicles (for use before and after using the pump) and to wear a mask and practice physical distancing if you need to see the attendant. For safety reasons the card lock is strongly recommended.
  • Ross River Dena Council Employees – All RRDC offices are currently closed to the public and employees continue to work from home. Anyone who is planning to access the office must contact their Director and arrange for a rapid test if there will be others in the office at same time. These measures will remain in effect until further notice.

Helpful Resources:

As we are now seeing more and more households impacted by COVID-19, it is strongly recommended that community members take extra precautions to help keep you and your family safe:

  • Practise the Safe 6+1;
  • Have your groceries delivered to your door. To place an order please call (867) 969-2280 or email your shopping list to dena.general@northwestel.net;
  • If you feel sick, stay home, self-isolate and call (867) 747-0099 to get a rapid test delivered to your door. These tests are safe and easy to use, and they are far less invasive than standard PCR tests. 
  • If you test positive with a rapid test, contact the Ross River Health Centre at 969-4444 to arrange for a PCR test.
  • If you are concerned about your self-isolation options in Ross River, contact the Health Centre at (867) 969-4444 to discuss other options, such as the High Country Inn in Whitehorse;

Information for those who test positive:

  • What do I do if I test positive? Click here.
  • How do I reach out to others now that I am positive? Click here.

Information for those entering self-isolation:

  • I tested positive, so how long do I need to self-isolate? Click here.

Information for those who have been exposed (close contacts, household contacts):

  • What do I need to know if I recently came into contact with someone who tested positive? Click here.
  • If my child, partner or someone I live with tests positive, and I have been exposed, do I need to self-isolate too? Click here.

Information for those who would like a rapid test delivered:

  • How do I request a rapid test kit? Call the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099, which is monitored by our Working Group. You will be asked for your name, address, phone number and preferred time for delivery.
  • How do I administer a self-test? Click here.
  • What else do I need to know about rapid testing in Yukon? Click here.

Information for those who may need additional support:

  • How can I help someone who does not have a phone? If you know someone who has symptoms and may need additional support while in self-isolation, Ross River Dena Council can provide them with a temporary cel phone for emergency purposes and to arrange for grocery deliveries. Call the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099 to request a phone.
  • I need assistance with self-isolation, who can I call? The pandemic is taking a big toll on a lot of us, but please know that you are not alone, and that we are here to help. The Ross River COVID-19 Support Line was set up to assist community members who need help with groceries, medicine, advice or if you just need someone to talk to. The support line is monitored by Ross River Dena Council’s COVID-19 Action Plan Working Group and is in place to support anyone who may need assistance while self-isolating. Call (867) 747-0099 to connect with a community outreach volunteer.
  • I need help right now, who should I call? If you have a medical emergency, call The Ross River Health Centre at (867) 969-4444. If you are in need of mental wellness support and need some one right away,contact the LifeWorks Crisis Support Line at 1-844-751-2133(open 24/7) or you can contact the Mental Health, Counselling and Crisis Support Line for Ross River, Pelly Crossing, Carmacks and Faro citizens by calling (867) 332-5468.

Travel Restrictions In Effect

The following travel advisory remains in effect for Ross River:

  • NO VISITORS – Do not travel to 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. Please do not travel to other communities unless it is absolutely necessary (i.e. for medical reasons). 

Please watch for additional announcements in the days ahead. 

Thank you, 

Ross River Dena Council