I hope this is the last time this issue comes forward because we all have bigger fish to fry now that there are more cases of COVID-19 in the NWT.  In addressing a column written last week, publisher Bruce Valpy took me to task for taking the paper and some senior government officials to task for either outing or singling out an NWT resident who, they suggest, flaunted the law while trying to make it home to his cabin at Lindberg Landing on Highway 7.

While I now understand that most of the information in the ensuing news stories came directly from that person and not social media, it still demonstrated problems people may face trying to follow the rules, including the threat of a potentially dangerous public backlash.

‘Pike’ Mike Harrison had been caught between a rock and a hard place when the public emergency was declared and I believe he was earnestly making his way home. He flaunted the rules to make a point about a COVID dilemma, and the government responded. If nothing else a vigorous and sometimes nasty public discussion was ignited, giving people pause to think about the issues.

Now we have more information about one of the people newly identified as having COVID-19. That person filed a self-isolation plan but instead of stopping to quarantine in a larger community like Hay River or Yellowknife went through to Fort Resolution.  Sources are telling NNSL Media there too was a complicated back story and not as black and white as someone breaking the rules for no good reason.

To its credit, the GNWT has now established a protectnwt@gov.nt.ca email or 1-833-378-8297 hotline if anyone has COVID questions or concerns. The problem is the answers they provide are confusing. I called a couple of times and was left wondering how the hotline actually works. I was told to send to email with my concern, which is then reviewed and sent to another body who can act, although I’m not exactly sure who has authority in these situations. There is also some confusion about the operating hours of this service which responds to calls and emails between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Any calls or emails going into that line are not dealt with until the next morning.

We are all on the edge. All of us. Fear lives just below the surface and needs to stay capped which is why careful government responses are so important.

This is indeed unchartered territory and we are all learning as we go. But there are a few certainties — social distancing must be maintained, hands must be washed often, faces not touched and people staying home as much as possible. And as important, communication from all levels of government needs to be measured and calm.

Finally, my apologies to the SnowKing for associating last week’s person in question to the Snow Castle.  I was misinformed and needed to check with you on that first. Forgive me.

Postscript: Stay safe everyone. We’re troopers and we’ll get through this.

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