Like most of her community members, Deb Ewald wants to see the end of COVID. But if that’s not possible, she would at least like to have her citizens immunized.
“I’d at least like the opportunity sooner than later for my citizens to be able to have the vaccine when it becomes available,” said Ewald, mayor of Rainy River. “I know we’re a small community, but we have a high percentage of seniors.”
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was approved in December and the first doses have been rolled out in southern Ontario, but there is still no word on when the vaccine will be coming to northwestern Ontario.
Ewald said that she is going to be speaking to the Northwestern Health Unit about when they can expect the vaccine.
The Town of Rainy River has seen COVID-19 case numbers increase alarmingly, with 10 active cases announced on Dec.29.
Northwestern Ontario began a 14-day lockdown on Dec. 26, but it is unsure whether it has helped to reduce case numbers in Rainy River.
Ewald said that she would like to see no cases in the community but considering the situation in other parts of Ontario, she said they are lucky to only have 10 cases.
“I think it’s a wakeup call for a lot of people because you get complacent,” Ewald said. “I’ve had people say to me, ‘oh well this is all just a hoax because it’s been eight months and we haven’t even had one’ but it just goes to show you how quickly that can turn around.”
Until Rainy River and the surrounding communities can get the vaccine, Ewald said that best thing that people can do is to follow public health rules which includes regular hand washing, wearing a mask and keeping a two metre distance from others.
Ewald said that she hopes people will take the guidelines more seriously and so far, she said people seem to be doing that.
“Right now I noticed in the town that there are a lot less people out and about which is good and I haven’t seen one person without a mask.”
The lockdown period is coming to an end but Ewald said that she would not be surprised if it had to be extended if case numbers continue to climb.
Nevertheless, Ewald said she is trying to be optimistic and think that ‘this cluster was our big bang’ and that community members will be more careful and more cognizant of the safety precautions.