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UPDATE: Stoney Nakoda First Nation fourth highest per capita COVID-19 hotspot in Alberta

The Iyahrhe Nakoda Food Bank Society has closed the doors to the food bank in Morley until May 17 due to a positive case within the organization.
Stoney sign
A sign encouraging Stoney Nakoda Nation members to 'Prevent the Spread' displayed on Sept. 9 in the Morley townsite. JENNA DULEWICH/RMO PHOTO

STONEY NAKODA – The Municipal District of Bighorn, which includes Stoney Nakoda First Nation, has the fourth highest per capita COVID-19 case count in Alberta.

As of Monday (May 10), the MD had 72 active cases, 69 of which are being managed by Stoney Health Services at Morley. Most cases of the virus are variants of concerns and the 69 cases are up from just three cases on April 26.

Officials say the current transmission risk is considered high on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, with the per capita case count for the MD at 1,413 per 100,000 people compared to 570 provincially and 213 nationally.

Indigenous Services Canada has warned that those attending recent public gatherings, such as a funeral, wedding or birthday party organized event may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

“We are very concerned about the high number of cases of COVID-19 in Morley,” said Dr. Chris Sarin, deputy medical officer of health, in a letter to community members.

“We understand this is a difficult time, but continued adherence to all public health guidelines is important in limiting the spread of COVID-19.”

The Iyahrhe Nakoda Food Bank Society has closed the doors to the food bank in Morley until May 17 due to a positive case within the organization. A deep cleaning and sanitization of the building will occur before reopening.

Indigenous Services Canada, Alberta region (ISC-AB), is working with Stoney Health Services to ensure contact tracing can continue and testing is available to all of those at risk.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is advised to visit the testing sites.

Community members experiencing symptoms of the virus must self-isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms, or until symptoms are resolved – whichever is longer.

Dr. Sarin said that under no circumstances should anyone leave their property during self-isolation, adding those requiring assistance with food, water, cleaning supplies or medication delivery to call the Stoney COVID line at 403-669-8511.

“At this time, ISC-AB continue to work closely with Stoney Health Services to support increased testing and case management,” he said.

“The health and safety of Morley community members remains our top priority.”

Since the pandemic began, there have been 569 cases of COVID-19 managed by Stoney Health Services at Morley. The running total of variant cases is 67.

Six people have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Stoney Health Services continues with its campaign to get Nation members vaccinated, reminding residents that community-wide immunization is proven to be one of the most successful public health strategies against many diseases.

So far, Stoney Health Services reports they have vaccinated 1,275 people. Vaccination clinics continue Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Family Resource Centre, Wesley Lodge.

All Stoney Nakoda Nation children aged 12-17 are welcome to get the Pfizer vaccine – the only COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for this age group in Canada – although supply is limited.

All Nation members 18 years of age and older can get the Moderna vaccine and any person who received their first Moderna COVID-19 jab before April 21 can get their second vaccine.

Drop-ins are welcome. No appointment required.