July 10 COVID-19 Update

Current COVID-19 Situation in Ross River

Ross River Dena Council advises all community members that as of 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 10, 2021 one new case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Ross River. This brings the number of active cases involving members of our community to two. 

The new case is a community member who is considered to be a close contact with a previous case. Both of the current active cases are now self-isolating, one in Ross River and one in Whitehorse. Contact tracing is under way.

Over the past few days Ross River’s active case count dropped from five to one, however Council advised that new cases could arise due to the recent increase in high-risk behaviour. Council is still encouraging all community members to please remain diligent and to discourage any behaviour that contributes to the spread of COVID-19 in rural Yukon.

High-risk behaviour consists of any activity that is not in accordance with current COVID-19 guidelines and/or the current safety measures put in place by Council to help keep Ross River safe.  

Examples of high-risk behaviour include:

  • Not following the Safe 6 +1;
  • Participating in social gatherings that are outside of your bubble and involve more than six people;
  • Travelling to and from other communities for non-essential purposes;
  • Not wearing a mask while in close proximity to others;
  • Overcrowded vehicles + passengers are not wearing masks to protect one another; and
  • Entering homes even when there is a sign on the door that says no visitors.

When individuals choose not to follow current COVID-19 guidelines and/or disregard the current community safety measures they are being disrespectful to our elders, our families and our community. They are also putting lives at risk. For this reason, Council is asking all community members to please be safe and please report individuals who are not following the Civil Emergency Measures Act by calling (867) 393-6210 or by filling out the online form.

Based on the new case and current trends Council advises that the following COVID-19 safety measures will remain in place until further notice:

  • The Dena General Store will be temporarily 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 dena.general@northwestel.net 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 are now 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 – Travellers are asked to refrain from visiting Ross River at this time; 
    • ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY – Community members are asked to refrain from travelling to other communities unless it is absolutely essential (i.e. for medical reasons);
  • Ross River Dena Council offices will remain closed to the public until further notice;
  • Ross River Dena Council staff are advised that return-to-work discussions are under way, however please continue to work from home until further notice; and
  • Ross River Dena Council continues to engage with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID Response Unit and efforts to help strengthen community-level support measures are now advancing.

These measures have been introduced in response to the current 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.

Community Services Update

A number of community services have been temporarily interrupted due to the current COVID-19 outbreak and are now being reviewed to ensure proper safety procedures are in place. Thank you for your understanding as we take the important steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. 

Ross River Dena Council staff continues the effort to review and restore a range of services, including:

  • Trash collection has resumed, however there have been a number of bear sightings over the past two weeks – community members are asked to please manage your waste accordingly and to contact the First Nation and/or a Conservation Officer if you observe a bear on your property;
  • A plan to restore adult care services, including meal delivery, laundry and cleaning services is now advancing. Please watch for more information in the coming days; and
  • A plan to re-open the laundromat is now advancing. It is anticipated that while there is an elevated risk due to COVID-19, access to the Laundromat will be reserved for adult care services on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will be available for all community members on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays by appointment only. The facility is currently being cleaned. Please watch for more information in the coming days.

Checkpoint Update

On July 5, Ross River Dena Council launched a new COVID-19 Safety Stop to help raise awareness of the COVID-19 situation and monitor incoming traffic when COVID-19 risk levels are High (Level 4) or Extreme (Level 5).   

The primary objectives of the COVID-19 Safety Stop checkpoint include:

  • Ensuring all incoming vehicles are provided important information about the current COVID-19 situation in Ross River;
  • Respectfully gathering the name and phone number of visitors entering the community, along with information about the purpose of their visit and the name and address of the person they are visiting; 
  • Distributing Personal Protective Equipment (i.e. masks and hand sanitizer); and
  • Working with our partners and neighbours to Help Keep Ross River Safe!

Checkpoint times may vary, including evenings and weekends.

Additional safety measures and travel restrictions (i.e. community-specific travel advisories, a community gate, curfews, community-wide lockdown, etc.) are also being considered by Council as ways to help keep our elders, our families and the vulnerable members of our community safe. These measures would only be deployed in extreme cases, such as a major outbreak in Ross River, Whitehorse and/or one or more of our neighbouring communities.

Upcoming Vaccination Opportunities

Adults (18+)

Adults (18 and older) who are interested in receiving the Moderna vaccine are encouraged to contact the Ross River Health Centre at 969-4444 to arrange for a vaccination appointment. Community clinics are organized based on demand, and can be arranged quickly if enough community members express interest. 

Youth (ages 12-17)

The next vaccination opportunity for Ross River youth (ages 12-17) will be Wednesday, July 14 at Ross River School. Youth vaccinations are also available in Whitehorse. To book an appointment, please visit the online booking system here.

Travel Advisory Update

COVID-19 Outbreak

Due to the current outbreak in Whitehorse and a number of neighbouring communities, the following travel advisory is now in effect: 

  • NO VISITORS PLEASE – Travellers are asked to refrain from visiting Ross River at this time; 
  • ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY – Community members are asked to refrain from travelling to other communities unless it is absolutely essential (i.e. for medical reasons); 

To read travel advisories for other communities, please visit the Council of Yukon First Nations COVID-19 Info Hub at www.cyfn.ca/covid-19.  

Road Closures Due to Wildfires

The Yukon Government advises that the 1,300-hectare Tuchitua River fire has forced the closure of the Robert Campbell Highway from Kilometre 10, north of Watson Lake, to Kilometre 360, south of Ross River. The fire was expected to reach the highway today near the junction of the highway and the Nahanni Range Road. The full notice is available here.

Other COVID-19 Considerations

Council recognizes that as part of the new normal, outbreaks may occur in Whitehorse and/or rural communities in the weeks and months ahead. When an outbreak occurs, Council asks that everyone remain calm, continue to follow the Safe 6 +1 and that we all work together to help protect vulnerable community members during these difficult times.

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 much better to be safe than sorry;
  • For the latest COVID-19 Self-Isolation Guidelines: https://yukon.ca/en/self-isolation-covid-19;
  • 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 is encouraged to call the LifeWorks Crisis Support Line at 1 (844) 751-2133 at any time 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 this historic public health emergency. If you would like more information about this Working Group or would be interested in volunteering to help keep our community safe, please send an email to the Working Group Co-Chairs Verna Nukon at vernanukon@gmail.com and/or Dylan Loblaw at dylanloblaw@gmail.com. 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