Now that incoming traffic through the Mike Zubko Airport is being screened and quarantined as needed, Town of Inuvik Mayor Natasha Kulikowski is now dealing with the logistics of the safety measures.
On top of the town’s list of concerns are keeping a healthy rotation of staff. The mayor noted some extra help from the territorial government was expected to arrive in the next few days to relieve staff at the airport.
“Our situation is still the same in that we’re still operating the registration at the airport,” she said. “We’re also still operating the isolation site at the Mackenzie Hotel. Currently we’re awaiting some further help from the GNWT, just staffing-wise so that we can have a few more people helping out and let some of the folks that have been working on this since last Friday maybe get a few hours of reprieve.”
Town officials are hoping to connect with a few volunteers willing to pet-sit for people coming back from out of the territory who are required to quarantine for 14-days and unable to keep their pets with them. Kulikowski said so far the town was trying to find a sitter for one dog and one cat.
She added the State of Emergency Declaration announced March 27 didn’t change anything that the town was doing at the onset, though she added staff was bracing for new directives as the situation developed.
While she wasn’t up to date on specific numbers, she added town officials had been briefed on the capacity of the Inuvik Hospital and noted there was a leftover stockade of equipment from the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
“Everything’s been pulled in so they can take a good measurement of what they have,” she said. “My knowledge is that the hospital is fully equipped at this point for what may come in the beginning. If things get bad, the plan is still to medevac those who need it.”
She said residents should keep an eye on the federal and territorial government for relief announcements, noting most of what has been announced appears to be going straight from Ottawa to the individual without other governments getting in the way.
To help people stay at home, the town’s finance department has been in contact with banks to expand the number of means to make online payments.
Kulikowski said she empathized with families with kids trying to keep occupied with no school, but noted the town could not open any of its facilities as the crisis was underway. She suggested residents make use of the trails while practicing social distancing.
“We’re all going through this together. The town continues to be at the front line of this and we’re doing whatever we can to protect the residents of Inuvik and the region,” she said. “I’m having daily emails and voice calls with mayors across all three territories, so please know we all working hard to make sure all get through this together.”
Efforts from residents around town have been a boost for elders and families in isolation, with the food bank and grocery stories doing deliveries and food vouchers for those in need, but Kulikowski commended residents for just putting out the effort to bring cheer to Inuvik.
“Some of the things I’ve seen around town is people putting hearts in their window so if a family is out for a drive, they can play a game of count the hearts,” she said. “I put a teddy bear in my window. If it gives a kid or someone a smile, that’s good enough for me.”