Rural Communities Calling For Stay-At-Home Order, Field Hospital To Help Combat Surge In COVID-19 Cases

Rural communities across the RMWB are calling for a stay-at-home order for the region.

Wood Buffalo is currently the worst in Alberta for spread of the virus, doubling the rates in Calgary and Edmonton.

Allan Adam, Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, says the provincial government needs to step up.

“For almost thirteen months we have followed the leadership of Jason Kenney, and where has it gotten us? To last place in the country when it comes to the rate of spread.”

According to a release from the Athabasca Tribal Council, an elder recently died as he couldn’t get treatment at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre as there was no space available.

Though, Alberta Health Services says no patients have been turned away at any time.

“These losses are too great to bear, and something has to be done,” added Kendrick Cardinal, President of the Fort Chipewyan Métis.

“We cannot stand by and continue to watch these numbers surge, we must challenge the provincial government to address our concerns now. We refuse to bury another indigenous member of our communities”

Throughout the pandemic, rural communities across the region have implemented their own measures to stop the spread of the virus.

This includes checkpoints, curfews, and supporting isolating members, more.

“All levels of government need to take a hard look at our region and our communities as an example of best practices,” said Ron Quintal, President of the Fort McKay Métis Nation.

“Our biggest barrier today is the roll-out of the vaccines to the greater population and all age groups while implementing temporary restrictions in the region until we can get our case numbers to a manageable point.”

Along with the stay-at-home order, the communities are asking for isolation units in hotels to be established, a mass vaccination program, rapid testing sites at all points of entry to the community, checkpoints at all hamlets, a field hospital to help with the increase in patients at the NLRHC, a community-wide curfew, enforcement of mask and social gathering bylaws, and restricting business to essential services only.

“Literally anything would be better than what he has been doing,” added Adam.

“Our region is losing the battle with COVID-19, and we cannot accept the lack of meaningful action and response any longer.”

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