COVID-19 Daily News Digest – December 14, 2020
Special paramedic team deployed amid COVID-19 surge in northern B.C. town
Asked why residents of Fort St. James weren’t told sooner that there was a cluster of cases forming in their region, Henry stressed that no outbreak has been declared. All of the infections that have developed there are being traced and managed by public health, in the same way that cases everyone in the province are managed, she said.
Henry added that the province has been hesitant, in the past, to release the number of cases of COVID-19 detected in specific regions because of a desire to maintain the privacy of those who test positive.
Rising cases among First Nations people
136 of Friday’s COVID-19 cases in Manitoba came from the Northern region as First Nations people in the province are facing more challenges.
Federal ministers urge provinces to work with Indigenous leaders on COVID-19 vaccination
“Our expectation is that our members, no matter where they are, can be vaccinated,” Pratt said in an interview on Wednesday.
On Friday, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health said a “COVID-19 Immunization Planning Indigenous Advisory Committee” is being formed.
“The committee will include First Nations and Metis representation. Specific representation from each group is still being formalized,” spokeswoman Colleen Book wrote.
Test positivity rate among Manitoba’s First Nations hits 25%, with 829 COVID-19 cases in past week
The five-day test positive rate among First Nations people was at 25 per cent Friday, the Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Response Coordination Team said in its latest update — nearly double the provincewide rate of 13.8 per cent announced the same day.
More than half of the COVID-19 patients in Manitoba’s intensive care beds are First Nations people. In total, there were 91 First Nations patients in hospital due to COVID-19 as of Friday, the team said in its weekly update.
Provincewide, there are currently 297 people in hospital, with 40 people in intensive care due to COVID-19.
Some leaders in northern Saskatchewan cautiously optimistic for vaccine
As of Thursday, the NITHA reported 323 active cases of COVID-19 in its communities.
Those persistent numbers mean residents should proceed with caution, noted Candyce Paul, who co-ordinates English River First Nation’s COVID-19 emergency management team. However, she doubts a vaccine will reach communities like hers soon, considering some of the difficulties it’s encountered, she said.
Minister Ian Lafrenière confirms the government’s support of the Résilience Montréal Project
“The situation of Indigenous people in an urban environment is all too often summarized by a few words: poverty and social exclusion; the situation prevailing in Cabot Square is a good example of this. We face a situation where it is urgent to take action. A place such as the Résilience Montréal drop-in centre constitutes a concerted response to the needs observed. In enables the users to regain human dignity and to have renewed hope. We are all learning a great lesson in humanity from it.”
COVID-19 vaccine details for Indigenous communities ‘being worked out’: Sask. chief medical health officer
“It’s not just impacting the elders — it’s impacting relatively healthy young people amongst First Nations,” he said. “That’s why we want to be on the priority list.”
FSIN, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, called on both levels of government to prioritize Indigenous people for the vaccine.
The federal government is obligated through the signing of Treaty 6, Pratt said. That treaty, among other things, promises a medicine chest on reserves and rations during famine and pestilence (a fatal epidemic).
Manitoba’s Death Rate Increased More Than Nine Times After Thanksgiving: Top Doctor
The Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team reported 829 new infections in both on- and off- reserve populations in the last week. Twelve more First Nations people also died.
First Nations people made up more than half of those in intensive care with COVID-19, the task force’s data shows.
“This is a very, very critical moment for all of us,” said Melanie MacKinnon, head of the First Nations response team, during its weekly update on Friday.
Fort St. James Indigenous Policing members to participate in ‘Christmas Elder Drop’
Because RCMP is an essential service, the constables will be able to enter Nak’azdli Whut’en, which closed its community for two weeks as of Dec. 4 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases within the Fort St. James area.
The baskets will be wrapped in plastic and placed on the elders’ porches before the constables knock on their door. From there, they will wait from a safe distance to tell the elders of their awaiting gift and wish them happy holidays.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may negatively impact all individuals’ mental health, HealthLinkBC noted self-isolation can be particularly challenging for older adults.
“We wanted to touch base and let them know that we’re thinking of them,” Reierson said of the elders.
Province provides more support for friendship centres as urban Indigenous peoples struggle during pandemic
“The COVID-19 pandemic has tested everyone in ways we never imagined, and Indigenous peoples living in urban areas are relying on the help offered by friendship centres at unprecedented levels. We have provided additional funds through the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres to meet this significant demand and support the critical, culturally appropriate services that friendship centres are providing during this particularly challenging time.”
Fighting COVID-19 in the Amazon, with Herbs and the Internet
Tribal leaders and activists have told me that covid-19 is an “existential threat” to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, one with a disturbing resemblance to the wave of infectious disease that decimated the people of the Americas, hundreds of years ago, when European settlers first arrived. Mazabanda, of Amazon Watch, also sees an indication of contemporary politics in the way that the pandemic has played out in Ecuador: “The truth is that the government views indigenous peoples as obstacles to unrestricted access to the vast natural resources of the Amazon.” This is evident, he told me, in “the lack of emergency government support for indigenous peoples and the reckless designation of extractive industries as ‘essential services.’ ”