The Hay River Health and Social Services Authority said last week that if Covid rates continue to rise in the community that the facility will be able to manage.

Erin Griffths, CEO of the HRHSSA was asked during a March 31 presentation to about 30 people at the Whispering Willows’ Alice Cambridge Room what would happen if the BA.2 strain of the virus spikes.

The question came as the health authority was preparing for the NWT’s lifting of most restrictions as of April 1.

“Based on the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer, we would take direction from her but we would more than likely go back to some type of restriction or closer monitoring,” Griffiths said.

As of April 2, according to the Covid-19 dashboard, there were 45 active cases in Hay River and Griffiths admitted that the numbers were rising.

“Our numbers are already going up and very quickly going up,” she said. “We also have spring break coming up when a lot of people will be traveling. We’re anticipating numbers may go up after spring break and then into the summer as well.”

While the health authority has been struggling to keep services fully staffed, Griffiths said that attending to another outbreak could be done.

“HRHSSA is prepared to manage an outbreak of Covid-19 during this time,” she stated in a March 25 email to the Hub. “If required, HRHSSA will work in collaboration with our territorial partners and redeploy our current team to ensure appropriate resources are in place to support the community.”

Social gatherings and graduation

Griffiths noted that as limitations on indoor and outdoor gatherings are being lifted as of April 1 that as of now, group activities in the coming weeks and months are to go ahead as planned.

Among group events that are highly noteworthy in Hay River include the Diamond Jenness Secondary School graduation and convocation.

Lisa Smith, who is the lead on the DJSS graduation committee this year said that with a 2021-22 class of 38 students, there are preparations for between 350 to 400 people.

She said that although organizers are aiming to have a more normal graduation compared to the last two years with social gathering limitations, her committee is aware of the potential challenges if Covid is to linger. She said she is planning on working with the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer as necessary.

“I don’t know what will be happening for the convocation as that is up to the school, but the parents are planning the grand march, a meal and an after grad event with entertainment at the golf course,” she said.

“Most of the activities will be outdoors and we will be working with the OCPHO to make sure we are following guidelines. We are planning to be flexible and adjust our plans as needed.”

Other notes

Griffiths was asked about the potential for a fourth vaccine being rolled out to senior citizens. She said that guidelines are to be rolled out over the coming weeks from the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

“We have guidelines coming as to who is eligible and where they’re eligible and who will be first in line to get that,” she said. I think they’re looking at first those who live in congregate settings, such as our long term care facility. But that has been supported by the CPHO and we’re just going to be rolling that out next couple of weeks.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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