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Jul 18, 2020 – – 3 minute read
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Thursday experienced Saskatchewan’s biggest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases– 42— spread over a big rural area.
It is here where one huge question over the handling of this pandemic begins.
The Saskatchewan Party federal government had little problem banning travel in the entire northern half of the province and excluding it from the first phase of Re-Open Saskatchewan when there were 25 active cases mostly restricted to La Loche and the Clearwater River Dene First Country.
However, as of Thursday, there were 89 active cases in the southwest and west central parts of the province– essentially all of which were connected to transmission to a series of Hutterite Colonies (or what federal government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority euphemistically describe as “common living settings”). Friday, the province added 13 more cases– 8 in the main area and one in the south.
So troubled was the SHA by this development that at 9: 30 p.m. Wednesday it felt it required to provide an alert about case outbreaks in several rural municipalities that, coincidentally, host Hutterite nests.
Yet we didn’t see the exact same travel restrictions or stay-at-home orders that were used to northern locals? Is this consistent policy? Excellent interaction of government policy?
Asked about this apparent discrepancy, Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding and SHA CEO Scott Livingstone explained Thursday that while northern leaders requested the blockade (which isn’t completely precise; some did, some didn’t) and that Hutterite leadership is not asking for such intervention.
Clearly, the SHA and the Saskatchewan Party government does discover itself in a quandary. And one can surely have compassion with scenario the Hutterite neighborhood now discovers itself in.
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Currently rather stigmatized as a noticeable minority in this province (which likely explains why government has actually been especially mindful about the language surrounding this break out) this current scenario is now especially tough on this neighborhood.
Hutterite nests in this province have an exceptional reputation for wishing to do their part and some nests are clearly showing this during this pandemic. Authorities kept in mind Thursday there has been door-to-door testing “on nests where Saskatchewan Health has actually been welcomed”.
” Hutterites didn’t bring COVID to Saskatchewan,” the SHA CEO stressed. We need to take a 2nd to acknowledge this.
Nevertheless, while some nests state they have been living under lockdown, there remains issue that inadequate was done soon enough after last month’s preliminary outbreak of 34 cases on two Hutterite nests near Maple Creek.
Recently, the Hutterian Security Council (HSC) issued a bulletin cautioning numerous nests in Saskatchewan and Alberta were “badly struck with the coronavirus” which “at first, there was strong resistance to any public health input by impacted Hutterites”.
” The response of some (Hutterite) neighborhood leaders has been problematic,” the bulletin stated.
Perhaps this week’s numbers will be wakeup call to both health officials and this neighborhood that, as one Hutterite leader put it, they were “naive” to think they were separated from the remainder of the world and totally free to attend wedding events and funerals barred in other places.
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” The tide is turning, where colony management are realizing that this isn’t a joke,” David Tschetter of the HSC told the Leader-Post’s Arthur White-Crummey. “It’s not a conspiracy theory, and we’ve got vulnerable among us that requirement special attention and defense.”
This appears sage advice for us all.
Asked Thursday what federal government could do much better, Kaeding had a hard time to see the problems as anything besides situations beyond government control. There is some reality to this, however there’s likewise been inconsistency from the federal government both in messaging and policy.
Livingstone’s words bear duplicating: Hutterites didn’t bring the unique coronavirus to Saskatchewan. No group must be singled out.
However this is a public health crisis and Thursday not only saw a record variety of daily cases in Saskatchewan however likewise record hospitalizations (11).
One can only wonder whether government efforts to avoid stigmatizing communities, obstructing roadways in rural Saskatchewan or interfering with farm trade and commerce (there is no word on how farmers’ markets need to he managed) made it less proactive than it ought to have been.
Finest practices need to apply to all.
Mandryk is the political writer for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.