'The war isn't won yet': Voices grow louder in push for Sask. to take action against raging Delta variant
Saskatoon has reached a new peak of active cases of COVID-19 with 966, up from the 921 mark set in January.
Calls are growing from leaders in Saskatoon, Prince Albert and medical professionals across Saskatchewan for the province to address the spread of the Delta variant.
“There are no public health orders, people are gathering and not wearing masks and it’s creating that environment for rapid spread right now,” said interim senior medical health officer Cory Neudorf.
On Aug. 26, Neudorf and medical health officers in Saskatchewan penned a letter to Premier Scott Moe and Health Minister Paul Merriman, calling on the government to implement public health orders.
Neudorf said he’s not asking for full lockdowns and closures, but a masking mandate is a good start.
Weeks later, new infections continue to skyrocket, especially in Saskatoon and the north central region, which includes Prince Albert.
“Every day that we wait to make those kinds of announcements means it’s just going to take longer to get over this fourth wave and the reactions we have will have to be more severe,” Neudorf said. “It’s certainly time to act now. It's overtime already.”
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said he’d like to see the provincial government take a proactive approach to mitigate the fast-spreading Delta variant. This comes after Saskatoon City Council voted in favour of mandating masks for all city employees and for all users of Saskatoon Transit and city-run buildings.
“I really would love to see a consistent framework put in place along the lines of what Dr. (Saqib) Shahab had said is needed, which is going back to an indoor mask mandate,” Clark said.
The inaction shown by the province is also causing stress for Prince Albert’s Mayor Greg Dionne.
“I was hoping the province would step up and now they’ve left it up to the cities and the spike is really starting to scare us,” Dionne said.
During the opening day of the Elk Ridge Open on the PGA’s Mackenzie Tour, Premier Scott Moe said he wouldn’t comment on hypotheticals when asked if his government would look at public health measures in the wake of another spike of COVID-19 cases.
Instead, he said he believes the province’s vaccine rates will continue to inch towards 80 per cent.
“At a point in time we’re going to reach a very high vaccination rate here in Saskatchewan and I think we will get near or close to that 80 percentile fully vaccinated sometime this calendar year. We’re still vaccinating today,” he said.
Neudorf said even if the provincial government were to reinstate public health measures this week, it would take several weeks before the province begins to see a downturn in new infections and hospitalizations.
“COVID has thrown another curveball at us with Delta, it’s time to reassess and say the war isn’t won yet,” Neudorf said.
— with files from Lisa Risom
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