Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year, Hay River has been extremely fortunate in that no case has been identified in the community.

No one can probably say for sure why that has happened, but obviously everyone hopes that it continues.

There have been Covid cases all around us – in Yellowknife, in the Yukon, most recently in Nunavut, especially in Alberta and even as close as Fort Resolution, just 150 km to the east.

But still nothing in Hay River. (And of course, as with every time Covid-19 is mentioned in a Hub editorial, the provision has to be added that hopefully there will still be no cases by the time you read this.)

In a sense, it feels like Hay River is sitting in the eye of a hurricane. As the Covid storm rages all around us, the community has watched and prepared for the day when it will hit us.

That’s because there is one disconcerting fact about hurricanes – they move.

So while it is still hopefully peaceful and calm right now in Hay River, the Covid-19 forecast is alarming. Sooner or later the hurricane will roll over us.

It is up to all of us to make sure that everyone has done everything in our power to prepare for the arrival of the storm.

More than anything else, people can lessen the impact of the Covid-19 hurricane by not unwittingly bringing the coronavirus to our community.

Most people in Hay River appear to have been conscientious about good Covid practices – social distancing, mask wearing in crowded spaces, hand washing, etc.

However, Hay River is now facing what may be the biggest challenge yet in keeping Covid-19 out of the community – Christmas. And for some people, the Christmas season has already begun.

The GNWT has been advising that people should avoid their traditional Christmas travels in and out of the territory, and it’s not hard to understand why. With cases of Covid-19 increasing in the rest of the country, especially in Alberta, the fear is that someone – or perhaps a lot of people – will bring the coronavirus home as a special guest for Christmas dinner.

Even with the 14-day self-isolation protocols in the NWT, Christmas presents the most danger yet to Hay River for its first case of Covid-19, and even more cases for the rest of the NWT.

Some people have abandoned their travel plans for Christmas, and that is an act of civic responsibility.

However, others still plan to travel at Christmas, and that is their right.

It would be better if everyone just stayed put this Christmas and waited for the Covid-19 hurricane to weaken. After all, a vaccine or vaccines may be just months away.

Of course, it cannot be expected that everyone will stay at home this Christmas. For some, seeing their families is very important at this time of year, important enough to possibly expose their loved ones and their communities to Covid-19.

To anyone who may unfortunately do that, hopefully Christmas dinner with your family will be worth it.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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