July 7 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 Wednesday, July 7, 2021 the current active case count involving members of our community is now two.

Both active cases are self-isolating in Whitehorse. 

While the current active case count has decreased, please be aware that numerous community members have requested a COVID test this week, either because they were showing symptoms or because they are concerned about the recent increase in high-risk behaviour in the community.

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:

  • Social gatherings involving 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 and passengers are not wearing masks to protect one another; and
  • Visiting houses 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 put in place by Ross River Dena Council they are being disrespectful to our elders, our families and our community. They are also putting lives at risk.

Council is asking all community members to please be safe, to please be on the lookout for high-risk behaviour and to please report individuals who are not following the Civil Emergency Measures Act by calling (867) 393-6210 or by filling out the online form.

For anyone who is showing symptoms of COVID-19, standard testing will continue at the Ross River Health Centre this week. 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; and
  • Muscle aches.

Based on the current situation (as outlined above), Council advises that the following COVID-19 safety measures will remain in place this week:

  • 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 will 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 are being taken in response to the current outbreak in Whitehorse and the presence of COVID-19 in multiple rural 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 week – 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 proposed objectives of the 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.

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