Once again, there was little definitive new information to report out of the Yukon government’s regular COVID-19 weekly briefing held Wednesday morning.
For the first time since the territorial election was called on March 12, Premier Sandy Silver returned to the briefing to add his input.
Silver said he was aware of the pressure building to declare some kind of travel bubble with the Northwest Territories, and particularly the
Mackenzie Delta region.
He said he’s quite familiar with the inter-relationships between people in the delta and their Yukon counterparts, particularly amongst the
Silver said he and Hanley have been talking to N.W.T. officials and health representatives about possibly allowing reduced travel restrictions.
Such movement might also be a boost to the Yukon economy, since many delta residents do much of their shopping in the Yukon, particularly in Whitehorse.
Silver said details still need to be worked out, but he hoped to be able to make an announcement soon.
Interestingly, when Silver was asked by a reporter as to how the Yukon could continue to manage the pandemic without a government in place for nearly two months, he said there was no difficulty.
He is still the premier, he pointed out, and the government, even in caretaker status, is quite capable of addressing problems or making
changes to health measures at any time during the election process,
That’s in contrast to what Hanley has been saying during his solo briefings.
For several weeks, Hanley has hinted he has new recommendations that couldn’t be implemented while the government was in a caretaker
phase. That discrepancy was not addressed further on Wednesday.
Despite that, both Hanley and Silver continued to double-down in their support for not relaxing the ongoing health restrictions.
While vaccines are going well in terms of overall numbers, with a vaccination rate of more than 72 per cent for the territory, Hanley said he is concerned that younger adult cohorts were not being vaccinated at those rates.
He said he would like to see all of the age cohorts hit that 75 per cent mark before considering whether it met the criteria for potential herd
That’s something that has never been explicitly said before.
All of the discussions previously about herd immunity had hedged on whether the 75 per cent mark would be enough to meet herd immunity.
It hadn’t been previously mentioned that every age cohort eligible for vaccination should be at that mark.
A Star reporter asked him how he would respond to irate members of the public complaining his comments constitute “moving the goal posts” on the question.
“I’m not sure what goalposts have been moved?” he said. “I don’t understand.”
He went on to say it had always been the intention to have the 75 per cent figure apply across the age cohorts rather than just a flat 75 per
cent across the board.
He added, as he has said for weeks now, that it’s unclear as to whether that figure is the correct one. The number could be higher, he said.
“The higher the better,” he said. “It’s much more difficult to know what the number is.”
Silver chipped in and agreed with Hanley, saying he thought it had been explicit as to how the herd immunity question worked.
Currently, there are no active COVID-19 cases in the Yukon, Silver said.
The loss of a territorial resident outside of the jurisdiction who had acquired COVID-19 was touched on by Silver, and was the subject of a pointed question for Hanley by CBC Yukon reporter Jackie Hong.
“Did that press release (announcing the death) meet your standards?” she asked.
The release caused a furor on the Internet and social media for its brevity and lack of details.
The Star and other media sources had to ask followup questions to discover the person had been out of the Yukon when the virus was
contracted not long before passing away from other medical problems.
Hanley gave a rambling answer to that question that did little to resolve the issue.
“It’s something we will continue to work on,” Silver added.