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Premier Sandy Silver and Dr. Brendan Hanley

Expect more COVID cases, Yukoners told

When it comes to the current COVID-19 outbreak, things will get worse before they get better.

By Tim Giilck on June 16, 2021

When it comes to the current COVID-19 outbreak, things will get worse before they get better.

That’s what the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, had to say this morning during the weekly briefing.

The Yukon is suffering its worst COVID outbreak ever, with what Hanley said is currently 50 active cases, most of them since the past weekend, but there is no current plan to re-introduce community-wide health restrictions.

Most of those cases are the Gamma variant, previously know as the Brazil variant. It’s much more infectious than the base type of the virus.

The majority of the cases are being traced to high school graduation activities, as well as to partying at local bars, Premier Sandy Silver and Hanley indicated this morning.

Many of the positive cases are being found amongst young adults who are not vaccinated, as well as youth who haven’t had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

One Whitehorse resident, an elderly woman, died earlier this week. That’s the first in-territory death since last year, and the third overall.

Dr. Catherine Elliott, the acting chief medical officer of health, announced the woman’s death late Monday afternoon.

According to a news release, the Whitehorse resident was linked to a previous case and was unvaccinated.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family of this individual,” Elliott said.

“Out of respect, we will not be releasing any additional information.”

Of the outbreak, Silver said in his opening remarks this morning, “It’s no doubt a serious situation. It’s devastating.”

He spoke strongly about people “partying” and ignoring health regulations.

Silver said the focus for the moment is on containing the outbreak rather than tightening regulations.

All of the cases have happened since the government relaxed some of those restrictions, including gathering sizes and returning bars and restaurants to full seating capacity. Many of the infections are clearly related to high school graduations.

Silver insisted organized events weren’t the problem. Instead, he focused his ire on people at “un-organized” events ignoring the health regulations.

“It simply has to stop,” he said. “If you let your guard down, it will take advantage.

“COVID is not done with you,” he added. “We will see more cases.”

With most of the infected people being unvaccinated, Silver said, this situation could have been much worse a few months ago before the vaccine rollout began.

Only two of the current cases are fully vaccinated people, and their illnesses are relatively mild.

Silver said the government will be ramping up enforcement efforts, although he was vague on the details.

His responses were so unclear that during the briefing, different reporters told him he wasn’t answering their questions.

On several occasions through the briefing, he stressed the importance of using the government’s tip line to report on the activities of Yukoners’ neighbours if they are violating health restrictions.

Silver said the popular “solstice parties” that usually occur this weekend, such as in his home riding in the Klondike, “simply can’t happen.

“The situation changes by the hour,” Hanley said during his comments. “We have 50 active cases, and one probable.”

He repeated those numbers a few minutes later during his statement.

However, he said “we’re not going to see the hospitals fill up. But we still need to be careful.”

Forty-four of those cases are in Whitehorse.

The remainder are in rural communities that the government is not identifying. Many of those communities, including Dawson City, Carcross and Burwash Landing, have sent out news releases announcing they have cases.

Many of the cases, Hanley said, are “strongly related” to the graduation ceremonies and parties.

“It’s the same group of partiers,” he said.

“We will continue to see cases”, he said and the number could “reach hundreds” before the outbreak is over.

Hundreds of people are already in self-isolation, Hanley said, as close contacts of the core group of infections.

“It’s outstripped anything we have seen before. I’ve used the wildfire analogy several times. Where’s there’s fuel, all you need is a spark.”

The government and public health are responding to the outbreak with what Hanley is calling a focused lockdown rather than a general lockdown.

That’s why so many people are in self-isolation.

“We’re doing everything we can to protect the unvaccinated,” Hanley said. “It doesn’t mean we shut down society or business. Locking down the community doesn’t make sense.”

The key, he said, is to test as many people as possible.

There still is no sign of where this Gamma variant came from, Hanley said. That’s different from previous clusters, especially in the last few months, where public health officials were able to track down sources fairly easily.

“We may never know for sure, and it really doesn’t make much difference in how we respond,” he said.

No further restrictions are in the offing, both Hanley and Silver said.

“We’re very confident with the measures that are in place,” Silver said.

The Department of Education issued the following comment Tuesday in regard to the school-based infections.

“High school graduation is an important milestone for students, their families and our school communities,” the department said.

“While the Grade 12 students at Porter Creek Secondary were able to celebrate their accomplishments at their cap and gown ceremony, we acknowledge their disappointment that the prom event (set for last Saturday) was cancelled.”

Silver also wouldn’t comment on the news the Northwest Territories has cancelled its travel exemptions for Yukon travellers, or for its own people crossing into the Yukon due to the outbreak here.

He said he wouldn’t speak for the N.W.T. or comment further on the decision.

He and Hanley continued to plead for people to keep coming forward to get their vaccinations as a solution to keep the situation under control.

Comments (38)

Up 3 Down 2

Tin roof on Jun 22, 2021 at 3:37 pm

@Groucho d'North

Any concept on how a Federation works? Like at all?

Up 8 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Jun 21, 2021 at 1:38 pm

Hmm, I predict there will be an announcement shortly (next 36 hrs) to inform we Yukoners that there will be a relaxation of some restrictions related to the pandemic to be effective July 5th - if not before.

Up 20 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Jun 21, 2021 at 10:35 am

You seem to believe that decisions about Yukon's dealings with the pandemic are made here. They are not. We are being remote controlled from Ottawa and the medical and political machine there. Silver and his gang do what Justin tells them to do...with a straight face too.

Up 42 Down 10

Community Gal on Jun 18, 2021 at 4:21 pm

Kids will be kids and Grad is a huge benchmark in a young person's life. I suggest that this current outbreak originated from outside the territory and, unfortunately, was passed along to our youth. Yukon Government has hired dozens of new hires from outside the Territory. Every week on the Facebook pages for rentals you see ads from people coming to Yukon to start their new job with the Yukon Government and looking for housing.
How about stop all the new hires from outside the Territory? This will help to ease our already overheating housing market. It will also likely prevent the introduction of new COVID cases in the Territory. How can you "work from home" if you don't have a home, eh?

Up 14 Down 38

Picnic on Jun 18, 2021 at 2:28 pm

@ Tyler

Cause and effect, it's a thing.
You are the reason normalcy can't yet return.

Get your vaccine folks!

Up 8 Down 18

TheHammer on Jun 18, 2021 at 11:48 am

"How to Philosophize with a Hammer:" Conspiracy theories: COVID, Climate, the Great Reset, are engendered by fundamentalists whose world view is crumbling. It's the "Twilight of the Idols".

Up 24 Down 8

bob on Jun 18, 2021 at 2:54 am

Can't speak your opinion in this so called free country. Hey...I guess I should just shut up because I'm a racist for wanting all opinions tabled.

Up 4 Down 7

bob on Jun 18, 2021 at 2:52 am

Yukondude@protonmail.com...people that are awake contact me please.

Up 40 Down 29

Tyler on Jun 17, 2021 at 6:46 pm

SNAFU here in the Yukon. If YTG were going to open the whole works up then it should have done so a year ago. This could have swept through and we could have opened up again. We could have been back to normal by now. It is mind boggling that YTG would keep the entire Territory under lock and key only to lose the plot at the 11th hour, undoing the hard work and undermining the real shift that Yukoners have put in.

In case folks here (Canada) haven't noticed, the rest of the world is going on with their lives. Yet here we're locked down, living in fear, praying for the best and hoping that the government will bail us out with our own dollars instead of letting us work. We are bombarded with messages of deaths, infection and despair without reprieve. Why is the message here so different? What is the goal?

Case in point; our national soccer team just cruised through to the last round of World Cup qualifying and played all of its 'home' games in Chicago. The Windy City. You know the one - it's in that country which so many of Canada's highly educated people like to deride (especially surrounding its covid response). What a joke. The team's most recent away match was in Port au Prince, Haiti. Haiti! We're talking third world here. Even the Haitians are getting on with life on their half of their island.

I am not vaccinated. I will take the chance that my body can fight off the virus when I get it instead of taking an (arguably) larger risk that big pharma actually cares about little old me. I straight up do not trust these rushed to market vaccines. When they're well proven then I'll buy in.
It is about freedom of choice. YTG has already messed up its own lockdown policy by opening up. It should at least have the decency to leave us open and allow us a choice in how we are to live our lives. Scared to death? Get the shot. Not concerned? Carry on.

Up 20 Down 22

Tom Stevens on Jun 17, 2021 at 4:37 pm

Well I see that the relationship between education and vaccine resistance is alive and well in Yukon. Excellent!!!!!

Up 39 Down 18

Personal agendas on Jun 17, 2021 at 3:44 pm

We’ll probably get shut down again after the long weekend. You know, after the people calling the shots fulfill their personal plans…

Up 45 Down 14

HJ on Jun 17, 2021 at 1:37 pm

If "we're not going to see the hospitals fill up", what exactly is the problem? This whole thing started because the health care system needed to be protected, so if it's clear that won't happen (which it won't), then it's done. The vast majority of people most likely to be hospitalized are vaccinated now - is this not the end-state for which we are aiming? What are we waiting for? It's over.

Up 29 Down 12

Informed Consent involves information on Jun 17, 2021 at 1:06 pm

Why isn’t the CMO mentioning that the CDC will be holding an emergency meeting on June 18 to discuss cases of heart inflammation in youth caused by the covid jab:

Many medical experts are calling for an immediate halt to covid jab for youth due to a number of risks:

Up 27 Down 36

Yukon Mom on Jun 17, 2021 at 10:31 am

I live near the Alaska Hwy, I see the number of tourist type vehicles coming through every day, more and more everyday. License's plates from Alberta, BC, and many states. Let's stop those folks from coming through and shopping in stores not giving a hoot about the locals. All you have to do is stop at the big box stores in Whitehorse and you can see those people are inside shopping, when they were clearly told they are not to do that. The should be turned around at the stop checks at both the southern entrances to Yukon. Pretty lax I would say.

Up 42 Down 29

Just Wondering When this Experiment on Jun 17, 2021 at 10:18 am

Well done… Well done! Divide and conquer through Critical Disgrace Theory and then use the fear of a manufactured virus to further the sociopathological agenda to further the reach of government into the freedoms of the people… What next?

Up 57 Down 12

John on Jun 17, 2021 at 9:44 am

Qualifications to become government representative (any level).
1) Must be able to talk for hours without actually saying anything.
2) Must be able to avoid answering questions (simple questions).
3) Must be able to lie without batting an eye or blushing
4) Must never admit you are wrong.
If you feel you have the required skills to fill this position, please jump into the Yukon River

Up 41 Down 23

John on Jun 17, 2021 at 9:30 am

I’m not an epidemiologist, I’m not a toxicologist but I am a reasonably intelligent person who can follow simple instructions. Why is it so hard for some people to follow SIMPLE instructions?

Up 34 Down 12

Wilf Carter on Jun 17, 2021 at 9:15 am

It would be better if politicians stay out of the situation and let the medical people deal with it. Trudeau is trying to control what health Canada can put out in public messages that states the facts of what is taking place. Head of Health tried to make a statement the other day on the situation but the Trudeau government had it taken down. Sandy does what Trudeau tells him what to do just like Larry Bagnell. No leadership here nothing but dictatorship.

Up 23 Down 20

John on Jun 17, 2021 at 8:44 am

Those of you who are pretending to know everything are really pissing off those of us that do.

Up 47 Down 14

Max Mack on Jun 17, 2021 at 7:39 am

Ramping up enforcement?

Yeah, you go get those kids, Silver. You're such a tough guy.

Once a teacher, always a teacher.

Up 30 Down 23

DL on Jun 16, 2021 at 11:41 pm

So, groups of young people got together and somehow shared viruses? It's perfectly normal, and a good way to boost their immune system. Since they're young, their covid symptoms, if any, are mild. They're recovering at home, right? Remember, natural immunity is always a lot stronger than a vaccine.

That is the saner approach advocated by world renowned epidemiologists who organized The Great Barrington Declaration as a guide for dealing with covid. Look it up at their website: https://gbdeclaration.org/

For those whose covid infection is difficult, there is Ivermectin, a safe, cheap and efficacious anti-viral and anti-inflammatory drug that has been used successfully to treat covid by many countries around the world. More info at "Frontline Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance", their website lists several studies demonstrating the efficacy of Ivermectin for treating covid: https://covid19criticalcare.com/

Up 35 Down 5

DMZ on Jun 16, 2021 at 8:19 pm

No further restrictions are in the offing, both Hanley and Silver said.
“We’re very confident with the measures that are in place,” Silver said.

Oh boy. Now I know they're going to say the exact opposite tomorrow.

Up 36 Down 18

Salt on Jun 16, 2021 at 7:35 pm

Vaccinated people can and do spread the virus, so what now government overlords? The 90% effective claim is utter corporate bull.

Up 36 Down 21

Rick S on Jun 16, 2021 at 7:22 pm

Shame on the government for fear-mongering parents into submitting their children to an unnecessary experimental medical intervention.

Up 52 Down 5

My Opinion on Jun 16, 2021 at 7:14 pm

So, why all the secrecy? Government will not bring themselves to tell us of infections in the Communities. Just some vague statement about in "a rural community" it was the First Nations that came forward, is that their jurisdiction? Is knowing which communities have outbreaks Racist? We need to know in a timely fashion where outbreaks are so we can avoid them. Is this not Obvious? Why is it not reported that the outbreak at a grad, was the First Nations Grad? Wouldn't that be good to know? Hence the connection to most of the communities all at once as well as McIntyre Subdivision. It is not a slight on anyone, no more then reporting on Whitehorse outbreaks. Come on people we have to drop the feelings and address the facts.

Up 37 Down 9

rob on Jun 16, 2021 at 6:38 pm

So now were told vaccinated people can still get covid and give covid, just not as bad as those who have no vax. Funny thing is all the no vax people I see are still playing safe while many of the vax crew is out there feeling bullet proof and ignoring basic safety protocols. You know what I'm talking about. Who's spreading what? Why the blame game?

Up 37 Down 21

JC on Jun 16, 2021 at 6:22 pm

I keep seeing Kate White driving up to grey mountain to go mountain biking..in the middle of the day! If I had her job, heck, even with my current job, I certainly do not have time to go for a ride in the middle of the day...I have seen her twice now, the two times I had to go downtown for work related business. Give me a break! NDP and Libs are out to lunch, and it's clear by our Premier's repeats in this press conference this afternoon. I voted YP...can someone start leading this Territory out of privilege...and how does 2 fully vaccinated out of 50 cases equal 80% vaccinated rate? I feel like I am in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Up 38 Down 6

Rod on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:40 pm

Why not tell us what communities and what places these folks with covid frequented while sick like you do in Whitehorse?

Up 39 Down 8

Joe Blow on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:40 pm

The information being provided is clearly being chosen for it's fear factor. The information is purposely incomplete, only mentioning the vaccinated having mild symptoms while neglecting to mention that the unvaccinated are also recovering at home with mild symptoms. If you all just stopped getting tested and stayed home when you're sick this would be over. Use your heads!

Up 15 Down 34

Sally F on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:34 pm

I hope their “important milestone” was worth all this mess. Unvaccinated Yukoners medically able to get vaccinated have no excuse. They are a real public health risk.

Up 104 Down 30

NickyB on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:28 pm

"Silver said the government will be ramping up enforcement efforts, although he was vague on the details. His responses were so unclear that during the briefing, different reporters told him he wasn’t answering their questions.
On several occasions through the briefing, he stressed the importance of using the government’s tip line to report on the activities of Yukoners’ neighbours if they are violating health restrictions."

This summarizes the LIB\NDP govt position clearly. It fosters extremist polarized division and urges people to snitch on their neighbours. It enhances the divisive "us vs them" attitude that the govt has promoted from the beginning.
This faux 'leadership' is like telling people to wear sunscreen so others don't get sunburn.

Up 93 Down 28

joe on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:24 pm

So Sandy says "Only two of the current cases are fully vaccinated people, and their illnesses are relatively mild." So are you saying the unvaccinated cases are not relatively mild? Cause the people I talk to say the cases are relatively mild. Why don't you give us all the facts instead of coercing those who choose not to vax. Any underlying conditions? My apologies to the family who experienced a loss.

Up 94 Down 25

Bud McGee on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:03 pm

There is so many unknowns with this Pandemic. I don't feel we're getting the straight information, and I honestly don't even think the CMO and others have the answers ... they seem to make it up as they go.

The quote-unquote intelligentsia aren't even sure if you can get infected with COVID after vaccination. The only thing the vax manufacturers would confidently say is that the vax would protect against symptomatic COVID. So far, there is no information released about the condition of the people who have these new cases. The information seems to suggest they are recovering at home. So how can the CMO state that "This outbreak is demonstrating the stark difference in outcomes between those who are protected with vaccine and those who are not"? Anyone with critical thinking skills would be able to tell that this statement is not factually correct. Do you know that 10 FULLY VACCINATED individuals at Foothills Hospital in Calgary STILL tested positive for COVID.

Please, stop talking to us like we're all dumb children.

Up 36 Down 67

Politico on Jun 16, 2021 at 3:39 pm

This is what happens when business and politics overrides the science. Why wait till the pandemic is under control when we can overload the system and make lots more people sick.
I hope the fun and the profits were worth it!

Up 81 Down 54

JSM on Jun 16, 2021 at 3:28 pm

Cancel all your events, hide in your house alone and do not question the government. Sounds like it's straight from 1984. Soon, voicing opinions contrary to the Lieberal party will constitute thought crime and we will be swiftly taken away to keep harmony and peace. All of the infringements of rights sets a very bad precedent for abuse of power.

Up 56 Down 9

Important milestone? on Jun 16, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Taking away people's livelihood was a-ok because you were saving lives. But a milestone, well that's waaay more important. Was there anything done to confirm that visiting relatives were vaccinated? (The answer is no).

Up 61 Down 51

THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! on Jun 16, 2021 at 3:24 pm

Sorry for yelling! You were told this would happen. Vaccinated people would come up carrying the virus and not be required to self isolate. You allowed people that were unvaccinated (Youth, we know the numbers that participated), to mingle with vaccinated who came from high risk exposure areas.

The CMO was called and told about this and they did nothing! They were told two weeks prior to implementing the "no requirement" to self isolate if vaccinated. Why don't you take the concerns of citizens seriously!?!! It's so frustrating we, as a public, get to deal with your ineptitude and blind arrogance. The writing was on the wall!

Up 58 Down 26

Matthew on Jun 16, 2021 at 3:16 pm

You've been saying that for a year now. I heard the news on the radio today.. what a joke! Said the exact same thing 5x. All worded differently.. surprise, surprise the narrative is here, it's non vaccinated people spreading covid..

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