Whitehorse Daily Star

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Dr. Brendan Hanley

Outbreak sparks unease in Watson Lake

There are five new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake, and a public health notification has been issued at three locations in the community.

By Gabrielle Plonka on October 26, 2020

There are five new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake, and a public health notification has been issued at three locations in the community.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the territory’s chief medical officer, announced three cases late Friday afternoon. Two more cases were confirmed this morning.

The individuals have not travelled outside the Yukon and likely contracted the disease in Watson Lake.

“We don’t have enough information to determine the source of the infection,” Hanley said of the first three cases on Friday.

“We expect to be in a better position to estimate the source of infection after a few days of ongoing investigation.”

A public health notification warning of possible exposure was issued for three Watson Lake locations on Friday:

• Watson Lake Foods – Super A on Oct. 8 and Oct. 16;

• Home Hardware on Oct. 7 and Oct. 10;

• Big Horn Motel on Oct. 7-9 and Oct. 13-16.

Individuals who were at those locations on those dates have been instructed to monitor themselves for symptoms.

The latest two cases had direct exposure in one or more of those sites, according to Pat Living, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services.

All five individuals are self-isolating and recovering at home. Contact investigations and testing of symptomatic contacts are underway.

“Further positive cases may be found as a result of this cluster,” Living said in an email this morning.

The first three cases and ensuing two cases represent two household clusters.

Hanley said Friday the first three cases were untraceable to a known source.

“It’s quite possible there was inadvertent contact with someone from outside Yukon,” Hanley said.

“The key to continuing in containment mode, like we’re doing, is prompt identification of cases.”

The three locations flagged in Watson Lake are now safe to visit, as the potential exposure is a result of possible “person-to-person transmission” and not associated with the locations themselves, Hanley said.

The border reopening necessitated some risk of occasional case importation, the chief medical officer said.

“I don’t see any change in that overall risk assessment, given that we know there’s always that ongoing chance of seeing importation events,” Hanley said.

“What we want to do is try to minimize the impact of any particular importation.”

Patti McLeod, the Yukon Party MLA for Watson Lake, said this morning she was in the community over the weekend and noted some uneasiness among locals.

“There’s some nervousness that’s around town,” McLeod told the Star.

“What we need to do, of course, is be calm and let the public health officials do their work.”

She said some Watson Lakers have been expressing their anxieties over social media.

“Other citizens are weighing in on the discussion, I guess, and calming folks down, and reminding them that we’re all in this together.”

McLeod said some locals are calling for a reinstatement of border restrictions with B.C. – lifted in July – in light of the new cases, though there are voices “on both sides of the question.”

Hanley has previously said he would not share locations of community COVID-19 cases, to protect the privacy of individuals and avoid animosity in those communities.

This community was revealed to host COVID-19 cases because of the public health advisories and lack of a traceable infection source, Hanley explained.

McLeod said it’s preferable for members of the community to have that information. 

“I think, as Yukoners, we like to know what community the events are occurring in so we can monitor (ourselves) accordingly,” McLeod said.

The southeast Yukon community is uniting during this challenging time, the MLA said.

“Watson Lake is doing what Watson Lake does – which is pulling together as a community and offering support to those people.”

The territory has had 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Comments (18)

Up 15 Down 4

Mike on Oct 29, 2020 at 6:29 pm

@ Watson Lake Resident
Still hiding under a alias but talking crap again. This community has no camaraderie or gather together to better the community. There's a beer gardens at every function including for kids. Give up trying to sell Watson Lake to people it's been ass backwards for decades and my reasons for staying isn't the towns people guaranteed. it's a guy would lose his shirt trying sell his property and I'm here 28 years. Don't preach crap because the town is never going to be better till we get proper leadership and nobody has ever banded together for the greater good of this community, EVER.

Up 15 Down 3

Juniper Jackson on Oct 29, 2020 at 4:01 pm

A friend called me today and asked me what I meant when I said "we better start dealing with this".

So far, efforts are concentrated on containing/avoiding covid and now flu. What I mean is, prepare to get the flu, prepare to get covid. Everyone should do their own thing, but this is what I did. I have a small box, my 'covid' box. I have Halls, Vicks, Ceprocal throat spray, anti contestants, Aspirin, as well as Tylenol muscle. I started taking a Vitamin C and Vitamin D. I put orange juice, 7 Up, Ginger Ale and 2 bottles of electrolyte drinks in the fridge. I put several boxes of chicken broth and some Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup in the cupboard. If I wake up not feeling well I want to have it all on hand. I loaded some movies on my iPad.

It goes without saying that we should protect our vulnerable, covid still doesn't like seniors, and not go out of our way to contract any disease or virus. But, as I said before, I think covid is too big to be contained, so I think people should start dealing with the prospect that they might contract it. If the good Premier Hanley and Doctor Silver can think of anything else to add to the list of covid preparedness in the home, please do so. I live alone, but I think most people do not. Maybe add masks and gloves to your covid box to take care of someone? I don't know..I only know what I am doing for myself.

Up 10 Down 5

Watson Lake resident on Oct 29, 2020 at 2:15 pm

@mike
The article at hand is about the covid virus in Watson Lake, Not about the people running our town, the violence, the money hungry people you refer to. No where in my statement did I "make excuses" for the people running our town... the people running our town have NOTHING to do with the citizens of our town that are ill and may need assistance or help from us. I said "we would come together as a community to help them" because that is what we do here in Watson Lake. You can rant about all the other BS somewhere else. How about we help the people in our community who may need some help.....
I for one love living here and choose to live here. If you really don't like Watson Lake then why are you here?

Up 16 Down 10

Mike on Oct 28, 2020 at 5:44 pm

@Watson Lake Resident
You were on a roll there making excuses for the useless people running our town to actually sounding like you really care right up till you say get the F#$k out. How bout use your real name and we can meet at Tags and discuss your get the f out of town. Not sure who it is you are because you hide under an alias but the two thumbs down so far and the 75 ups mean people tend to agree that not only is Watson Lake Toxic Selfish Abusive and dangerous for any woman to live in, the blind eye hush up don't tell nobody, but it is also one of the most corrupt towns in Canada hands down.

Up 23 Down 14

Watson Lake resident on Oct 28, 2020 at 1:41 pm

As a watson Lake resident I can say
Our community would come together and help the individulas that have tested positive for this terrible virus. We would bring meals, groceries, mail etc... Our commnuity is amazing.
We locals understand (and i may be wrong) that guests at the hotel had the virus, they were unaware and showed no symtoms until they had left and returned to their home town. They then got tested. That is when contact tracing was done. They unintentionally infected someone and that someone unintentionally infected their family members or people in their bubble. For those of you turning this into a political debate...grow up
The polititions didn't infect Watson lake. Those of you saying our community hasn't or won't come together to help one another and that our community is toxic...shame on you and feel free to move the f*** out of our wonderful community.

Up 12 Down 31

Juniper Jackson on Oct 28, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Taiwan notified WHO in Oct of 2019 that they were seeing a pattern. It was January before I saw pictures of someone eating a bat in China. Coincidentally, only half mile from the research facility working with Corona. By March when anyone was acting, the virus had infected millions and millions all over the world. Teresa Tam, hugely incompetent imo, announced masks, closing the borders would not stop the virus. After all the cows were out of the barn by August, Tam decided oh..yeah, a paper mask or a cotton mask would protect us.. and hey!! its washable.. and a mask became a fashion accessory.
This virus is so big, it can not be contained. People who are afraid should stay home, people who are at risk, stay home. If you want to. For the rest, go out and live your life..if that's what you want to do. But, we better start dealing with this because it can't be contained, but in trying to contain it, some researchers, some doctors, are inventing scenarios from old brain to no brain to deafness, to every single symptom on the face of the earth.
Covid 19 is a huge buffet of symptoms. Testing centers are looking at otherwise healthy people getting tested every week..fear..Ontario finally said.. don't come for testing if you don't have symptoms...everyone has symptoms the spectrum has become soooo broad.

I won't wear a mask. My face is all that sets me apart from the facemasked herds of sheeple. It is unique to me and I wear it proudly. It is my individuality. If your individuality is a blue mask instead of a white one, do whatever you feel comfortable in.

Up 28 Down 6

Nathan Living on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:56 pm

Serious business, hope Watson Lake residents are very careful.

Up 11 Down 21

Tizya on Oct 27, 2020 at 1:40 am

There’s word the virus hit Ross River with individuals isolating and waiting for results? Idk how true but your in my prayers WL/RR

Up 29 Down 20

Holly Schmidt-Balz on Oct 26, 2020 at 11:41 pm

Dear Mike @ Mike on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:32 pm:

Thank you. It would be nice if politicians could tell the truth. However, the reality is that they cannot because they are politicians. It does not matter whether one is a Liberal, a Conservative, NDP or a Greenie, their words cannot be trusted.

They have no consciousness. They are the consummate behaviourist responding to any external stimulus that benefits the organisms continued existence which is the acquisition of power itself. It is self-interest incarnate. To maintain power a politician must act in accordance with the wishes of those who hold greater power.

One will never hear the truth but possibly a truth if one has the ability to discern it as these things are bound up in doublespeak.
The same crap happens at the territorial, provincial and federal levels. Smoke and mirrors. We have a system of demonocracy...

Up 24 Down 47

Lynx on Oct 26, 2020 at 8:36 pm

I wonder if Patti Macleod (Yukon Party MLA for Watson) told people in town that she was asking the government to open up its borders even further just a few weeks ago? She literally asked in the Legislature why the government won't open up to Alberta! I think it's time the Yukon Party conservatives quit playing games and tell people where they stand when it comes to our borders being closed during the pandemic. I'm glad Silver and the Liberals are in power because we at least know where they stand.

Up 25 Down 6

Victoria on Oct 26, 2020 at 8:12 pm

There were two cases on October 19 that apparently caught it out of the Territory. We weren’t told how they travelled back to Yukon. I wonder if they happened to drive through Watson Lake? That would of been 4 days before the first 3 cases in Watson Lake.

Up 20 Down 34

Fred Norris on Oct 26, 2020 at 7:16 pm

The CMOH has said on more than one occasion that the PCR test can not identify SARS COV-2, or any other virus. It only amplifies a viral presence. For all we know these infections could be the flu virus, HPV, or any number of corona virus strains that humans have been fighting since 20,000 BC or later.
It’s time to take the masks off and stop living in fear.

Up 16 Down 29

Matthew on Oct 26, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Watson Lake Foods – Super A on Oct. 8 and Oct. 16;
• Home Hardware on Oct. 7 and Oct. 10;
• Big Horn Motel on Oct. 7-9 and Oct. 13-16.

So.. these dates are from 2 weeks ago... this means that NO ONE caught it as no new cases confirmed and entire Whitehorse has already gone through the 14 day quarantine lol! Next they'll tell us to be scared of breathing... will you stop to protect yourself!? Ha yes, same ideology apply .

Up 19 Down 67

Charlie on Oct 26, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Hi - I would like know why our schools haven’t shut down? I have children in social services care and they won’t let me have a say in this matter. I wanted them out of school because to me this is very serious and stressful. I’m so worried about them being in school.

Up 86 Down 13

Mike on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:32 pm

Pulling together as a community. The MLA says another bold face lie nobody has pooled together to support anyone in this town. Why can't politicians just be honest? It's sad they feel the need to sell Watson Lake as a healthy robust town when in fact it's a toxic community with ex mayors going to court for fraud, losing medical staff for too many pets and just a general feeling of who cares. High counts of women abuse, child sexual abuse and turning a blind eye. Yeah the community has pooled together for the greater good. Nice story.

Up 45 Down 2

Nathan Living on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm

So, an infected person could have transmitted covid at the Big Horn Motel.

Up 45 Down 38

Mike on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:18 pm

This guy hasn't got a clue what he's talking about. Super A Home Hardware and the Bighorn Motel Super A is the primary grocery store in Watson lake and it is busy all the time same as Home Hardware. As for the Bighorn, it caters to locals and travelers. Staff and towns people who have come in contact with anyone with the virus will test positive. He also states a lot of people were tested in Watson Lake that's another false statement because me and my whole family got told not to come to get tested unless you start getting symptoms.
People working in these places were told to have their employers ask for them to be tested. Since when does your employer choose whether you live or die - it's absolute baloney what the public is being told. This town is going to get hammered with this virus because there's been no tracing done. No fall back plan - just cross your fingers and pray you don't get it. No conflict either that the Super A is owned by the Mayor and his dad so he won't close - everyone thinks about the almighty dollar. Let's see how this plays out because the price Watson Lake pays for this isn't going to be in dollars.

Up 47 Down 15

Thomas Brewer on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:02 pm

So have all 5 cases in Watson Lake remained in Watson Lake or have they moved into other communities?
Do health professionals know when a confirmed case has relocated into their community? Sure would make a difference in their PPE protocols.

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