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NAN COVID-19 Bulletin- May 21, 2020

NAN COVID-19 Bulletin- May 21, 2020

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) COVID-19 Update 

Thunder Bay District Health UnitConfirmed Positive (May 21): 81
Active Cases: 3
Resolved Cases: 77
Deceased: 1
Porcupine Health UnitNumber of cases (May 21): 65
Currently Under Investigation: 227
Resolved Cases: 55
Deceased: 6
Northwestern Health UnitPositive tests (May 21): 21
Pending tests: 1194
Resolved: 16

Ontario Leading COVID-19 Research in Canada – May 21

  • The Ontario government is quickly moving forward with innovative research to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19. These projects, part of the government’s $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, focus on areas of research such as vaccine development, diagnostics, drug trials and development, and social sciences. Additionally, Ontario is leading the country with 22 clinical trials investigating COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
  • These 15 proposals are the first to receive funding from the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, with additional projects expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

 Ontario’s Plan to Reopen/ Ease Restrictions

  • Ontario has entered Phase 1 of their reopening (looking at starting to book some elective surgeries, more businesses opening with strict public health measures, etc.).
  • Schools will remain closed until September – no word yet on daycares, but NAN is keeping a close eye on these announcements and how they might affect the NAN First Nation communities.

NAN Office Closure

  • We made a difficult decision to keep the NAN office closed in Thunder Bay and Timmins until September 1 (which will be reviewed as necessary pending new information).
  • Given the closure of schools and the uncertainty around childcare for our staff, not to mention the comfort level of sending children into group care settings this summer, the NAN Executive Council felt compelled to do this.
  • We are very fortunate that we can maintain our important work remotely.
  • The administration at NAN, with assistance from the NAN COVID-19 Task Team, is examining options on how to better work remotely, and how we can ensure that our team is still productively working on the issues you have mandated us with.
  • This plan includes looking at options for hosting a NAN Chiefs’ Assembly remotely, as we still need to receive your mandates and operate as a Nation.

Funding

  • The Prime Minster announced $75 million in new funding to support urban and off-reserve First Nations membership. NAN has not been made aware of all the details yet but are continuing to follow up.
    • In funding rejection letters, it states that officials will reach out if more funding becomes available, and we expect that they will begin that work shortly.
    • NAN has raised the Matawa First Nations proposal with the Minister’s office directly.
    • We will continue to advocate, including correspondence to the Minister to ensure that the needs of our off-reserve members are being met.

NAN COVID-19 Task Team 

  • The NAN COVID-19 Task Team will be discussing next steps for the Task Team with respect to identifying how it can support NAN’s response to COVID-19 in the long term, and further identify immediate issues and prepare a plan that if needed, the team can quickly scale up.
  • Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, is officially recommending Canadians wear non-medical face masks when maintaining a two-metre distance is not possible.
    • Non-medical face masks help protect others from your droplets, but they will not necessarily prevent you from getting the virus.
    • Recommendation does not mean that it is mandatory, except where local public health officials or authorities have mandated it (for example, on airplanes).
    • Wearing a mask does not mean people should ease up on other public health measures.
    • Continue to maintain hand hygiene and give 2 meters of space to people outside of your household wherever possible.

·         Testing Guidance

  • On May 15, the province of Ontario released new testing guidance.
    • These updates to Ontario’s Testing guidance include:
      • Additional section on guidance for all populations: now, any Ontarian with at least one symptom or sign on Ontario’s list of COVID-19 symptoms should be considered for COVID-19 testing.
      • These symptoms include:
        • Fever
        • New or worsening cough
        • Shortness of breath
        • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
    • New smell or taste disorders
      • Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
      • Runny nose or nasal congestion, if there are no other underlying reasons, like allergies.
    • Other atypical symptoms may also be considered for some groups, such as children. The new guidance added multisystem inflammatory vasculitis to the symptoms list and removed hoarse voice and sneezing from symptoms.
    • Clinicians may still exercise their discretion.
    • We are working with the province to ensure that our health authorities are consulted with respect to testing protocols in communities.

Framework for Easing Restrictions in NAN Communities

  • The NAN Executive Council recognizes that our Chiefs may be under pressure from their members either to ease restrictions or to demonstrate a plan – and this is a complicated thing to do – so we are hopefully providing you with something useful that you can customize to your needs.
  • Health and Safety continues to be paramount as the guide to reopening and easing restrictions.
  • The NAN COVID-19 Task Team has put together a framework to help NAN First Nations in their decision-making process on how to and when to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
    • This was released to community leadership and Tribal Councils yesterday, May 20.
    • This is the starting point for discussions among leadership and their communities.
    • This is guidance to support communities but not rules they are required to follow.
    • This is a living document that will be periodically reviewed to reflect feedback from communities and changes in best practices and guidelines.
    • There are two areas of restrictions communities might want to look at (restrictions within and access to community).
    • What the criteria for each stage is (and in broad terms why it was selected).
    • Communities may need to move backwards as well as forwards along the phases as the COVID-19 situation changes.
  • The NAN COVID-19 Task Team will now look at making recommendations within the framework, i.e. determine whether additional resources, guidance documents, and tools are needed.
  • We look forward to your important input and feedback and we are here to support your community.
  • Communities should also be prepared to re-impose restrictions and move back to an earlier phase if the risk of COVID-19 begins to increase again. Based on past pandemics, experts are predicting that there will be additional “waves” of COVID-19 over the next 18-24 months, where new cases suddenly increase, and additional restrictions are once again needed to control the spread.
  • The threat of COVID-19 is not over. NAN also recommends that, despite Ontario’s recent moves to reopen businesses and other services across the province, it is still too soon for NAN communities to ease too far back on the restrictions and public health measures that have kept our communities safe.

NAN Legal Services 

  • The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the protocol for discharge planning for releases from corrections has been signed by all parties.
  • 44 NAN community members have been assisted to get home upon exiting custody during COVID-19.
  • The Ontario Court of Justice Courts – June 1 – out of custody pleas will begin using video and audio systems. There are local, regional, and province-wide approaches to reopening courts.
  • Legal Aid Ontario has been expanding eligibility. They have started with additional coverage for criminal matters, such as bail variations, JPTs, etc. They are looking at provincial minimum for financial eligibility with provincial and regional approaches.

Nishnawbe Aski Police Services (NAPS) 

  • NAN has had multiple discussions with officials and hope to have some progress soon with respect to enforcement and prosecution of the BCRs and emergency measures. There is an upcoming call with Ministry of Attorney General (MAG), and we will hopefully have some news to report on after that.
  • NAPS civilian staff will continue to work from home until the end of June.
  • Signed the MOU regarding officers’ shift rotations has been extended until the end of August.
  • Request for exceptional circumstances funding has been verbally supported, NAPS is waiting for confirmation in writing.
  • The next basic constable training class will begin in June at the Ontario Police College.
  • The federal government has verbally confirmed that the funding committed for new detachments will remain allocated for those projects.

Communications 

  • Members of the NAN Executive Council will continue to appear on Wawatay Radio on Tuesday at 12 pm EST and on Friday at 1:05 pm EST.
  • COVID-19 Tools and Resources are being translated into Oji-Cree, Ojibway, and Cree to assist the communities in spreading awareness and public health messaging on COVID-19. They are posted on the NAN website under COVID-19 Tools and Resources.

Urban Communities 

  • NAN has posted specific information on the NAN website for members living off-reserve in urban centres across northwestern and northeastern Ontario.
    • This includes how to find shelters, food banks, social and mental health services, as well as Indigenous organizations that can assist.
  • Please continue to access our website as we are updating it daily with the most up to date information: www.nancovid19.ca

NEXT CALL: Monday, May 25, 2020 | 1p.m. EST | 12p.m. CST

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