COVID-19 just won’t quit.

According to a message shared with his community Tuesday morning (Sept. 7), Beauval mayor Nick Daigneault revealed – mainly because of COVID variants – there are 21 active cases in the village with more test results pending.

“This is an obvious concern for the community,” Daigneault noted. “Whether or not you’ve received your second dose, we are seeing illness in unvaccinated and vaccinated.”

As of Sept. 8, the total number of active cases in the Far Northwest’s sub-zone 1 – the area north of Meadow Lake to La Loche – was 92 or 762.79 per 100,000 population. In sub-zone 2, the area that includes Meadow Lake, that number was 94 or 529.52 per 100,000. Provincially, the total number of active cases is 3,331 (282.31 per 100,000) while the total percentage of people to receive at least one dose of the vaccine throughout the entire Far Northwest was 44 per cent.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gavin Van de Venter, chief of staff at the Meadow Lake Hospital, reiterated the fact people who are vaccinated are not entirely immune to the virus.

“Nobody ever said the vaccine is 100 per cent effective,” Van de Venter said. “It is about 94 per cent. It is a layer of protection just like masking is a layer and social distancing is a layer. It does, however, protect from serious illness, ICU admission and death.”

That is why the vaccine continues to be encouraged by medical professionals and community leaders alike. But, according to Van de Venter, the necessary vaccine uptake to overcome the pandemic appears to be a far-fetched goal.

“We were hoping for close to 80 per cent of people to be vaccinated to prevent the variants from gathering traction,” he said. “Our vaccination rates are so dismal in Meadow Lake – about 40 per cent – we will never get close to herd immunity to stop this variant. The number of positive people is now as high as it has ever been, and this variant has an R0 value of eight. The original virus’ R0 level was three, so illnesses are going to be worse than before.”

Van de Venter went on to say, in spite of the education the Saskatchewan Health Authority has shared, people still do not want to mask, distance and vaccinate.

“For example, the response to the school board’s very well thought out recommendation for masking in pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6 was viciously criticized on social media,” he added. “This is extremely disappointing, but, more so, worrying. With this variant, children are being affected in higher numbers and needing admission to hospitals.”

Daigneault agreed.

“Get vaccinated,” he said. “I realize this is a personal choice, but if you are uncertain please talk to a medical professional to get your questions answered.”

In closing, Van de Venter stressed how much of an impact COVID-19 continues to have on local medical personnel.

“As for the medical team here in Meadow Lake, we are preparing for a devastating fall and winter of COVID-19,” he said. “We just hope the resources hold up.”

by Phil Ambroziak