STONEY NAKODA— Finding success through health measures and vaccinations, Stoney Nakoda First Nation has reported no new active COVID-19 cases since July 23.
Stoney Nakoda Emergency Management director Mike Crawford said the Nation has been reporting zero cases of the virus for more than two weeks at the time of publication.
“It feels good. It’s showing that people are following the measures,” Crawford said. “So far so good— It’s very nice to have no cases.”
As of Friday (Aug 6), there were zero new cases and zero active cases of COVID-19 in Stoney Nakoda First Nation. To date, the Nation has seen 780 members recover from the virus and a reported 10 COVID-related deaths. The UK variant of the virus is the dominant strain in the Nation.
Crawford added things are looking positive in Stoney Nakoda, as vaccination numbers in the Nation are also slowly rising. To date 3,860 vaccine doses have been administered in the Nation.
Stoney Nakoda has begun to relax health measures in the Nation to align closer to the provincial government's easing of public health protocols. Measures that remain in place will include requiring those who visit the health centre, engage with the health care system including EMS, work with children under the age of 12 and those who are not double vaccinated in the workplace to wear a mask.
“We’re still going a little bit over what the provincial requirements are,” Crawford said. “We are a vulnerable community, we wanted to make sure we go over and above.”
The Nation has been careful to follow the guidelines set by Alberta Health Services, he said, but they felt it was still pertinent to include extra steps in the Nation to ensure the safety of members.
Crawford is feeling good about the current situation and appreciates how Nation members and surrounding communities including Cochrane are taking steps to keep each other safe.
“I think people are a little worried,” Crawford said. “We just want to be ahead of the game and make sure that we don’t let our guard down and let it in.”
It has been a relief to see numbers dropping as at the height of the pandemic, Stoney Nakoda First Nation had one of the highest per capita infection rates in Alberta.
Stoney Nakoda, which has three distinct bands, Chiniki, Bearspaw and Wesley, is a community of about 5,000. In mid-January, they reported a high of 209 active cases of COVID-19, and later reported a high of 115 active cases in mid-June.
The spring spike in COVID-19 cases promoted programs incentivizing vaccinations. A vaccination clinic at Stoney Health Services was held on June 17, which had door prizes, a traditional blessing ceremony and special appearances from Elders and Olympic medallists Beckie Scott and Clara Hughes.
Crawford noted that like other many communities across the country, Stoney Nakoda has the unseen long haulers who continue to recover from the virus. They have now become the focus of Stoney Nakoda Emergency Management, he said, because they have been left with long-term health issues. Emergency Management is now working to ensure they are not forgotten.
The priority now is encouraging residents to continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Pop-up and mobile vaccination clinics are available to Stoney Nakoda First Nation members, Crawford said, and appointments to receive a shot at home can be arranged.
“It’s just going out into the community and knocking on doors. The feedback has been really good— Sometimes we can do a whole house,” Crawford said.
For more information visit the Nakoda Emergency Management Facebook page.