As of today, nearly 1 in 250 Saskatchewan residents have tested positive for COVID-19. This fact is only one of many distressing indicators of COVID-19’s fourth wave in Saskatchewan: overwhelmed medical staff, the beginnings of triage — all of which were preventable.
In response, newly-formed group Concerned Citizens for COVID Action is holding a vigil in front of Paul Merriman’s Saskatoon MLA office beginning Friday, Oct 1 at 5:30. Formed to represent the general majority opinion of Saskatchewan residents with respect to the pandemic, the group says it is pressing the Saskatchewan provincial government to take public health seriously and act more aggressively to prevent the further deadly spread of COVID-19.
“Our observations and demands are always based on what we have been hearing from frontline medical staff, working on the ground and in ICUs,” says group spokesperson Theresa MacKinnon. “The situation is a public health disaster unfolding in real-time with many dire situations before us.”
Among the realities that many medical professionals in Saskatchewan have been public about in the past few days, sometimes taking to social media to express, are as follows:
- All hospitals in Saskatchewan are quickly getting out of control as they are rapidly filling over the last 7days.
- Most regional hospitals are on bypass because of the surge in serious cases overwhelming ICUs.
- Currently, people filling the ICUs are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated 80% of the time, and most unfortunately all under the age of 50.
- Leaked modeling data shows that this situation will continue to the 2nd or 3rd week of January.
- Over 50 scheduled surgeries and 200 procedures, daily, including cardiac catheterizations and colonoscopies will be cancelled potentially for 2-3 months to deal with the influx of hospitalizations for serious cases of COVID-19.
“Concerned Citizens for COVID Action is demanding that the provincial government immediately and actively tackle this situation,” says MacKinnon.
- We demand that SHA and the Saskatchewan government release the modeling data for COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths which they have refused to provide, even to our physicians. One can reasonably assume that the modelling is not being released because it is dire and makes current public health policy look inadequate. However, this modelling being widespread knowledge would change behaviour and help the medical community plan and advise the public.
- We call upon the Saskatchewan government for a provincial vaccine mandate that covers all professions serving the public, not just government workers. Staff in education, early learning/childcare and agencies providing children’s services must have a vaccine mandate. This decision cannot be left to local school boards or employers. Children under the age of 12 years rely on community immunity. Even as the 5-11 year old vaccine becomes available, 0-4 year old children will remain vulnerable. With only a small number of people actually mandated to receive the vaccine, this is incrementing numbers of persons completely vaccinated in Saskatchewan in a positive direction, but not nearly quickly enough.
- We need enforcement mechanisms for masking mandates and vaccine passports, or they are not that useful. The business community is preparing for the extra staff and time it will take to verify vaccine passports, some of which have already been shared or copied. Enforcement requires the Ministries of Health and Justice to set fines and pursue legal action against violators.
- We urge the Saskatchewan government to implement previously effective strategies such as limiting the capacity of businesses/events and maintaining a household bubble that slows the transmission of COVID-19. Thanksgiving Holiday weekend is upcoming and unlimited gatherings, particularly with unvaccinated persons will cause a surge in COVID-19 infections.
- We need clear contact tracing and isolating practices. In school transmission of COVID-19 is escalating daily. Allowing confirmed student contacts without symptoms to attend school, without isolation and testing, is feeding this trend. The government’s data regarding school transmission in Spring ‘21 did not factor in the Delta variant which is highly transmissible.
Just blaming “the unvaccinated” is not an appropriate public health response
Members of Concerned Citizens for COVID Action (CCFCA) have also observed Premier Scott Moe completely shifting the blame for the fourth wave to unvaccinated and incompletely-vaccinated persons.
“By failing to lead a serious public health campaign and removing all of Saskatchewan’s public health restrictions in July despite dire warnings, the Premier has implicitly communicated that the pandemic is not that serious,” says MacKinnon.
“This has been happening throughout the pandemic, where absurd loopholes and exemptions have plagued public health measures. We would like to remind the Premier that his record of issuing ‘strong recommendations’ and simply making vaccines available does not make for a viable public health campaign, at least not one that gets us to the required 80 or 90% vaccination rate.”
The group notes that on Premier Moe’s watch, a small fringe minority of anti-vaccine advocates has effectively spread vaccine misinformation and disinformation to a quarter of the province’s residents.
“Rather than fiercely opposing this constituency, the Premier and Public Health Minister Merriman have pandered to them by making normal public health measures such as vaccinations and masks a “personal choice,” says MacKinnon. She notes that “the two officials most in charge of Saskatchewan’s public health have also blamed health care workers, First Nations, and Prime Minister Trudeau for the failures of their own lack of action.”
“Continuing on the same course without immediate correction will surely prove the modelling data to be true. The average ICU stay is rarely more than 7-10 days. Covid ICU stays are 3-4 weeks. The current ICU capacity crisis relies on either deaths to make room in the ICU or preventing Covid transmission and infections. We prefer the latter.”
For more information
Contact: Theresa MacKinnon • email@example.com