Current COVID-19 Situation in Ross River
Ross River Dena Council advises all community members that as of 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 9, 2022 there are now multiple “presumptive” positive cases of COVID-19 in the community. Council also advises that any youth who attended Ross River School last week may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should self-monitor for symptoms over the next few days.
Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
These positive cases are currently considered “presumptive” because they were detected using antigen rapid tests and not the standard PCR tests that are recognized by the Government of Yukon.
The individuals who tested positive are now awaiting the results of their standard PCR tests, which were administered over the weekend and can take up to 72 hours to process. This additional step will be instrumental to help verify if the “presumptive” positives are indeed confirmed positives in the eyes of the Government of Yukon, however it is Ross River Dena Council’s view that waiting up to 72 hours before raising awareness of this situation could put many more community members at risk, recognizing that Omicron is far more infectious than previous variants.
Council’s position is that a “presumptive” positive from a rapid test should be considered as a positive case, and should be taken very seriously – especially if multiple youth and multiple households may have been exposed.
For this reason, out of an abundance of caution, Council is announcing the following community-level safety measures are taking effect immediately as we await more information:
- The Dena General Store will be closed on Monday, January 10 (and possibly Tuesday, January 11) as preparations are being made to switch to pick-up and delivery services only, if necessary;
- Tu Lidlini Petroleum advises that the main office in Ross River will be closed on Monday, January 10 (and possible Tuesday, January 11), however the card lock will remain open;
- Ross River Dena Council employees have been instructed to work from home until further notice, as a way to help prevent the spread of Omicron in the workplace; and
- Council advises all parents and students to contact their teachers in order to set up remote learning immediately and once again advises that students should not attend class at Ross River School this week (January 10-14).
Council will continue to monitor this situation and will provide updates in the coming days as more information becomes available.
Antigen Rapid Testing Now Available in Ross River
Those who attended classes at Ross River School last week are encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms and to take extra precaution as we wait for more information regarding the presumptive positive cases mentioned above.
In support of all parents and students who may have concerns, Ross River Dena Council is launching our rapid testing program this week for anyone who may be experiencing symptoms in the community and would like a rapid test delivered to your door. Community members can request the delivery of a rapid testing kit by calling the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099 to make the necessary arrangements.
Rapid tests are less invasive than PCR tests, they are easy to use and will provide results in just 15 minutes.
You will be asked to provide your name, address, phone number and a preferred time for delivery (i.e. morning, afternoon, evening).
To see how simple it is to conduct a self-test, please watch this video, which was posted on YouTube by One Yukon in December.
Other Community-Level Safety Measures Now In Effect
On Friday, January 7, 2022 the COVID-19 Risk Level for Ross River was increased to 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 cases in Yukon has jumped to over 300 over the past week and this number is expected to climb in the coming days/weeks;
- 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.
Why Adjust Our Community-Level Safety Measures?
This is an important question.
Because Omicron spreads much faster than previous variants, and because the territorial government is no longer tracking every case, Council advises that the actual number of cases in our community over the coming weeks is likely to be much higher than the case count information on the Government of Yukon’s website suggests.
On the other hand, unlike last summer when vaccination rates were much lower, there is now a significantly higher percentage of our population that has some form of protection.
Hence, as Ross River returns to Risk Level 5 (Extreme), we are introducing safety measures similar to those that were in place last summer, but with some minor modifications to reflect the current situation.
The updated measures are as follows:
- The Dena General Store is asking community members to arrange for curbside pick-up or delivery as the safest way to shop, but will continue to allow a handful of customers to enter the store at one time (Max 6) if they do not have a vehicle during extreme cold temperatures. To place an order please call (867) 969-2280 and/or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and a representative will respond as soon as possible;
- Banking services will still 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.
- 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;
- All RRDC Offices will be closed to the public until further notice;
- Do not hold or participate in indoor personal gatherings or outdoor personal gatherings that involve more than one household, regardless of vaccination status;
- Travel restrictions
- 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 note, the current the case count in Yukon (as of January 7) is 329, a significant jump from the 106 active cases announced on December 31, 2021. If you have questions about the current case information, vaccination rate and COVID-19 Risk Level for Ross River, please visit our COVID-19 Dashboard for more information. You can also call the Ross River COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099 if you have any questions or would like assistance with grocery delivery, laundry or other support services related to the COVID-19 situation.
Council also advised that there are still plenty of ways to help Keep Ross River safe while supporting one another.
Please continue to:
- Wear a mask;
- Wash your hands;
- Stay at least six feet apart;
- Arrange for curbside pick-up or delivery at the store;
- Only travel for essential reasons (i.e medical appointment);
- Do not host or participate in gatherings;
- Do not visit with others; and
- Stay at home if you or someone you live with are sick.
About the Rapid Testing Program in Ross River
Ross River Dena Council will be launching our rapid testing program this week. Due to limited supplies, the rollout of this program will be targeted towards frontline workers at the Dena General Store, Post Office and Bank, as well as any RRDC employees who will be working at the office (this is temporarily no occurring due to the presumptive cases mentioned above) or those who will be working from home but delivering services in person to community members.
Once Council has secured enough supplies, a more robust rapid testing campaign will roll out across the community.
Our aim this week is to provide a rapid test to anyone who may be experiencing minor symptoms and would like a rapid test delivered to their door. If you or someone in your home is showing symptoms, please call the COVID-19 Support Line at (867) 747-0099 to request same-day delivery of a rapid testing kit.
We will require your name, address, phone number and preferred time for delivery (i.e. morning, afternoon, evening).
Our ultimate goal in the weeks ahead will be to secure enough supplies to provide all households and workplaces with rapid testing kits on a regular basis, however supplies are currently limited.
If kits are not available when you call, please treat your symptoms seriously, self-isolate immediately and contact the Health Centre at (867) 969-4444 to arrange for a standard PCR COVID-19 test.
Mouth-Rinse and Gargle Test Also Available in Ross River
To help address testing hesitancy, Council continues to request ongoing rapid testing at the community level. The Government of Yukon has heard this request, and as an interim measure the Ross River Health Centre is now offering a mouth-rinse and gargle test for anyone five years of age and older who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
This test is a far less-invasive approach to virus detection, and is an excellent solution for community members who have concerns about the standard test, which can sometimes be uncomfortable.
If you wish to go for a mouth-rinse and gargle test, please do not eat, drink, smoke, vape, brush your teeth or chew gum for at least one hour before you do the mouth-rinse and gargle test.
If you have any questions, or would like more information please contact the Health Centre at (867) 969-4444. The following resources are also available:
- To book a COVID-19 test in Ross River, please call the Health Centre at (867) 969-4444;
- To book a COVID-19 test in Whitehorse, visit the online booking tool here;
- The mouth rinse and gargle instructions are available here;
- To watch a video for kids on how to use the mouth-rinse and gargle test go here; and
- To watch a video for adults on how to use the mouth-rinse and gargle test, go here.
Current COVID-19 Risk Level: 5 (Extreme Risk)
As of on January 9, 2022 there are multiple presumptive positive cases in Ross River and possible exposures, the Omicron variant has become the dominant strain in Yukon and the case count for the territory is now over 300. Approximately 67% of our population is partially vaccinated, 62% of our population is fully vaccinated and 14% have received boosters. As a result, the current COVID-19 Risk Level for Ross River is now at Level 5 (Extreme) and the following COVID-19 safety measures will be in effect until further notice:
- The Dena General Store is asking everyone to shop safely by arranging for curbside pick-up or delivery, but may allow some customers in the store during extreme cold conditions. To place an order please call (867) 969-2280 and/or send an email to email@example.com and someone will respond as soon as possible;
- 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.
- Tu-Lidlini Petroleum advises that the gas station will continue to 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;
- The following travel advisory is now in effect:
- VISITORS – Please refrain from visiting Ross River at this time;
- ROSS RIVER CITIZENS: ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY – Only travel for essential reasons (i.e. medical appointments). Please respect all travel advisories currently in effect.
- At Level 5 (Extreme Risk) Ross River Dena Council offices remain closed to the public until further notice;
- Ross River Dena Council will continue to engage with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Education and other interagency partners to help strengthen community-level support.
Current Vaccination Rates
Please note, Council continues to advise that the vaccine is your best bet to help protect yourself and members of your family this winter.
There have only been a handful of cases in Ross River since the start of September, however our current vaccination rate still the lowest in the territory (62% fully vaccinated, 67% partially vaccinated), which means the risk to our elders, our families and our most vulnerable community members remains very high.
While Omicron is now spreading to both vaccinated and unvaccinated Yukoners, unvaccinated Yukoners have consistently experienced more severe outcomes.
If you or someone you know has questions or would like to book an appointment for an upcoming vaccination opportunity please contact the Health Centre at (867) 969-4444.
Upcoming Vaccination Opportunities
On Tuesday, January 11, 2022 the Ross River Health Centre will be offering boosters for community members. Please call (867) 969-4444 for more information.
Regarding other vaccination opportunities, please monitor the Government of Yukon’s website or you can also call the Health Centre at (867) 969-4444 to inquire about upcoming clinics and appointment opportunities.
If You Are Sick, Stay Home and Stay Safe!
A reminder that if you have any symptoms, even mild symptoms, the decision to go to work, school, the store or another person’s house could put the health of our elders, our families, your friends, neighbours, co-workers, fellow students, teachers and others at risk.
If you or someone you know has symptoms, please contact the Health Centre at (867) 969-4444 to discuss the situation and arrange for a COVID-19 test.
Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
Even if you or someone you know has just a minor cough, sore throat or sniffles, it is important to stay home and arrange for a test. This may or may not be COVID-19, but Council asks that everyone please take this matter seriously – even if you are fully vaccinated.
Other COVID-19 Considerations
Here are some additional considerations and helpful COVID-19 resources:
- The Government of Yukon has created a new “Living with COVID-19” page that contains important messages to help guide Yukoners on the way forward. To check out this helpful resource, click here.
- For the latest COVID-19 Self-Isolation Guidelines: https://yukon.ca/en/self-isolation-covid-19;
- 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.
Job Opportunities / Volunteering Opportunities
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. The Working Group is open to anyone who wishes to lend a helping hand.
Ross River Dena Council is now seeking motivated community members who thrive under pressure and enjoy helping others to join our team and help lead the fight against COVID-19. The following positions are anticipatory and include temporary, part-time and full-time opportunities dedicated to leading a range of COVID-19 Prevention and COVID-19 Support Services activities.
- COVID-19 Community Outreach Coordinator
- COVID-19 Safety Officers (COVID-19 Safety Stop)
- Self-Isolation Support (Delivery Drivers)
- Website Designer / Communications Officer
- Ross River COVID-19 Support Line Worker
If you are interested in one or more of these positions, please contact RRDC COVID-19 Action Plan Working Group Co-Chairs Verna Nukon (email to: firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Dylan Loblaw (email to: email@example.com) today!
Ross River Dena Council