Today’s mailbox: COVID reopening

Letter to the editor published July 3

Don’t sacrifice our vulnerable, writer says

The following is an open letter to Premier Sandy Silver and Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health

I feel very hurt, disappointed, and am just plain mad! In early COVID-19 days, Yukon worked hard to successfully flatten the curve — averting a potential 2500 cases — by enforcing a mandatory 14-day self isolation upon entering the territory, contact tracing, and avoiding community spread utilizing the “Safe Six.” Now you’re willing to jeopardize these hard-fought gains.

When Dr. Hanley insisted that the B.C. border would stay closed, both Yukoners and businesses embraced a Yukon vacation vowing to get through this together. It was a shock, when, in less than 24 hours you decided to open the B.C. border July 1 — a 180 about face for economics? Although restrictions were already being lifted, even allowing camping, only data from lockdown times was offered as justification.

Forfeiting consultation with Yukoners on whether to pursue a safe COVID-19 free three territories bubble or one with B.C. (not COVID free), you unilaterally chose the riskier. Transparency and public consultation?

You say you are acting according to science and epidemiology, while clearly ignoring the warnings from the president of the Canadian Medical Association, the WHO, the CDC, and medical professionals all over the world of disastrous consequences from reopening too soon/fast as evidenced by skyrocketing resurgence of cases worldwide, especially in the southern U.S. and Alaska.

Dr. Hanley, you mistakenly maintain that you can contain/manage the spread of new cases through contact tracing and testing once the border opens, but with safeguards eliminated community spread will ensue. Being willing to accept some cases/clusters even simultaneously in two Yukon communities to the point of overwhelming Yukon health care services; but the virus will spread like wildfire (i.e. La Loche), given the social culture, overcrowded housing, and high incidence of vulnerable populations in Yukon communities. Mine workers could contribute to outbreaks as in Alberta oil fields.

Opening the Yukon to tourists for the benefit of businesses, while imprisoning vulnerable Yukoners in lockdown to stay safe from the imported virus is unacceptable. These folks who probably comprised much of your original mental health stats, contribute to Yukon financially year-round deserve better.

Well, enough is enough! As part of the Yukon vulnerable population, I resent/refuse to be forced back into depressing lockdown or be sacrificed as acceptable collateral damage being robbed of any quality of life again in exchange for economics. The last straw was learning that, using public funds, the Yukon Tourism branch is also marketing Yukon as the ultimate destination for adventure, splendour, and lack of congestion to B.C. tourists for Yukon businesses. You have now completely lost my trust.

I do not have a death wish and resent being deemed worthless. I intend to purchase a face shield, at government expense, to stay safe as I pursue some quality of life in spite of the present government’s intension to the contrary. If necessary, I am prepared to utilize human rights legislation toward this end.

I sincerely hope you come to your senses in time and reconsider your actions. There is still time to enable safe quality of life options for all Yukoners, enforce safety measures, utilize effective screening measures, heighten the bar for evolving new cases triggering border reclosure, slow down and stop this bullying. It could be a matter of life and death for Yukoners.

Liz Reichenbach,

“Hurt, angry, vulnerable Yukoner and retired Yukon nurse practitioner”

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