One week into its pandemic lockdown, Ahousaht comes together to deliver support

Ahousaht, BC

It has been a week since Ahousaht went on lockdown while COVID-19 numbers escalated in British Columbia. In his daily leadership update, elected Chief Greg Louie announced on Dec. 2 that he was informed by health authorities that there are eight positive COVID-19 cases in Ahousaht living in four households. In addition, there are a total 15 people living in those four households that are considered close contacts to the positive cases.

At this time, all people must wear masks outside their homes in the village. Louie said that the number of cases may climb as lab results come in from other residents that have taken the test.

Louie said that leadership does not receive information about the identities of the positive cases, but that staff and leadership pledge to protect that confidentiality if they are informed of the identities. However, for those that wish to disclose to Ahousaht’s EOC staff that they tested positive, their disclosure will be kept private while staff offer additional services to help support those that are in 14-day isolation.

According to Deputy Chief Melinda Swan, a vehicle has been hired to deliver food, medication and other necessities to those that are under 14-day isolation. In addition, the nation is having food delivered to the village, as they arrange for the safe and orderly distribution of the free food to its nearly 1,000 residents.

In another measure to help people stay home, Ahousaht sends its freight truck to Port Alberni periodically to pick up care packages from friends and family in Port Alberni for delivery to the village. City residents shop for items and pack them in plastic totes, which are clearly marked with the recipient’s name. Each tote is disinfected and delivered to driver Larry Swan with gloved hands and masks.

The nation has received two mobile homes, which will be set up in Ahousaht and used for isolating those that test positive for the virus.

Chief Louie says his staff are busy networking with health officers and nurses, implementing their advice to keep the community safe from the spread of the virus. He noted that there are angry people that are calling or messaging staff at the Ahousaht EOC, swearing at them.

“There’s lots of anxiety about the isolation, but we need to do it for 14 days,” said Louie in a live Facebook video message on Dec. 2.

Louie says that the 14-day isolation period is mandatory for Ahousaht residents - not only for those that have tested positive, but also for close contacts and those afraid they were exposed, but tested negative.

“It can take several days for symptoms to show, and some people have different symptoms than others,” so it’s important to do the entire 14 days of isolation,” he told the people.

He pleaded with people to refrain from abusing staff with vulgarity, disrespect and rudeness.

“We are doing our best to protect your safety,” he said.

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