The vibe coming out of Yellowknife is highly confusing this week.

One on hand, we have 20 confirmed cases of Covid-19 linked to an outbreak at a Yellowknife school with more than 1,000 potential contacts linked to organizations throughout the city. Schools are shut down and many public facilities are changing their programming to protect users.

The very same day, hundreds flocked to the grand opening of a restaurant in the same city, with police corralling off a lane that was hopefully for the drive-thru.

Thankfully, it seems like just about everyone was wearing a mask, at least. Because those of us in the Beaufort Delta are very much within our rights to ask what happens if Yellowknife gets to community spread, which Dr. Kami Kandola said was possible on May 3.

Also on May 3, the Peel River crossing closed for the season. Which means until spring break-up is over, everything we need to survive as a community needs to be flown in.

Should the capital be forced into a full-on lockdown, arrangements will need to be made to ensure supply lines can continue through the airport without risk of contamination if something changes flights in Yellowknife.

But what about all the people who routinely make the flight between here and Yellowknife? Either for work or medical leave or even just to get out of the territory?

Noting she is not a medical professional, former Gwich’in Tribal Council Grand Chief Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan posted on Facebook a suggestion that anyone travelling to Inuvik or its surrounding communities from Yellowknife for the next while self-monitor for symptoms. I too am not a medical professional, but I’m inclined to agree. At the very least until the real medical professionals get the situation under control again.

As of writing this, I’m already watching annual general meetings, conferences and even Supreme Court trials scheduled for May in Inuvik fall over like dominoes. With authorities scrambling to regain control over the situation, people are not taking any chances.

Most of us in the Delta are probably just thanking out lucky star this happened this month and not April.

We should count ourselves lucky. Any of the jamborees could have been superspreader events. While many of us wore masks and followed social distancing guidelines, some did not.

What’s going on in Yellowknife right now shows what’s at the gates if we let our guard down.

I feel obligated to point out things up here could also be several orders of magnitude worse. We’re nowhere near the highest infection rate in North America. We do not have anti-mask movements flagrantly ignoring rules and spreading the virus further. We have not surrendered control of contact tracing. Our legislature hasn’t suspended proceedings. All this and more is the current reality in Alberta.

I also feel obligated to point out that allowing the provinces to maintain jurisdiction over how the crisis is managed has been a complete and absolute failure. Ottawa needs to step up and impose a single, Canada-wide containment plan. As mentioned previously in this space, Covid-19 does not care whom its victims vote for or where they live. We need a single, science-based system based on facts that is unconcerned with saving or winning votes.

As Yellowknife shows, we can’t get cocky or we get Covid-19.

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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