In response to the ongoing pandemic, the Council has decided to extend the Neyaashiinigmiing State of Emergency until February 28th. Under the State of Emergency, the Council has been able to take extraordinary actions to keep the community safe.
We have limited access to the community by closing one of our two entrances and setting up a monitoring station at the other. While it is impossible to say what might have happened without these actions, the Council feels that reducing the level of outside traffic in Neyaashiinigmiing has helped our community avoid the worst of the pandemic.
We have also extended the operations of our Food Bank. The Food Bank has received significantly more funds since the beginning of the pandemic and is able to serve all community members. With more space required for the additional foodstuffs and supplies, the Food Bank has also been allowed to operate out the Community Centre, at least until the end of March, 2021.
COVID-19 vaccines are finally being distributed in Grey Bruce, although only in small amounts. The supply of authorized vaccines is severely constrained around the world. We expect that we will receive small batches in intervals from the federal and provincial health ministries. We don’t have a long-term schedule for when we will receive batches of vaccine. We do know that it will be many months before we have enough community members vaccinated that we can begin relaxing the protocols that have kept us safe all this time.
Vaccinations are being given according to priorities set by the federal and provincial health ministries. COVID-19 is highly contagious and requires significant care for those that become seriously ill. The virus threatens to overwhelm regional health care providers if it spreads too quickly. The goal of the vaccination priority order is to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the health system so that we can care for those that do get ill.
Health workers will receive vaccinations first, as well as vulnerable people who live or provide care in what are called “congregate settings”. That just means a multi-resident apartment or facility. Congregate settings are considered more risky because if one person in the building catches the virus, there could be a large number of people exposed. Our Seniors Apartment Complex is an example of a congregate setting. On the other hand, an individual or small family living in their own house may be just as vulnerable to COVID-19, or even more, but there is less chance of many people falling ill if one member of a single household catches the virus.
Our next COVID-19 vaccination clinic is tentatively scheduled for February 11, 2021. This date is based on the best available information, but it may change before the day. We will update the public as soon as we receive more or different advice. If you live in Neyaashiinigmiing, the Health Centre will invite you to receive the vaccine when it is your turn. At this time, we will not be holding an open vaccination clinic for all residents.
We know that everyone wants the potentially life-saving vaccination and we are doing everything we can to get more vaccine in the community. Indigenous communities have been identified as high-priority communities for vaccinations by all levels of government. The limitation at this point is simply the amount of time it takes to manufacture and deliver the vaccines. While the manufacturers ramp up their production, we must be patient and stay safe by following our protocols:
- Wear a mask outside your home and keep it on.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Stay at least 2 meters from people that you don’t live with.