Old Crow keeping spread of COVID-19 in check, chief says

Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm says that there appears to be community spread in Old Crow, but stringent measures are keeping it as limited as possible.

There are now 3 active cases of the virus in Yukon's northernmost community

There are currently 3 active cases of COVID-19 in Old Crow, Yukon. (Karen McColl/CBC)

Old Crow Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm says that while there is evidence of local spread of COVID-19 in his community, the strict measures brought in by the Vuntut Gwitchin government are keeping it in check. 

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Old Crow, Yukon's northernmost community, on July 4. Yesterday it was announced on the Vuntut Gwitchin government's Facebook page that there are now three active cases. 

"I think the extra two cases, though I don't want to play down the severity of it, actually shows that our measures are working," Tizya-Tramm told host Elyn Jones on CBC Radio's Yukon Morning. 

A number of public safety orders were issued by Old Crow leadership in mid-June, including limits on travel and a request that people not mingle with other households. 

"There are some fines that have gone out, we've had to turn people's travel around and we've also had to deny travel," said Tizya-Tramm. 

All of those measures, he said, are hard on people's mental health — but have also proved effective in preventing the virus from spreading swiftly in the community. 

He says that despite the small population (about 220 people as of 2016), he doesn't know which Old Crow residents tested positive and that their privacy is being protected, but believes them to be doing well as they recover. 

Tizya-Tramm also says that he's proud of Old Crow for adhering to the rules and turning up to be tested at a recent rapid-test clinic. 

"I want to thank the community as well. Our turnout for the testing was incredible," he said. 

A vaccine clinic for adults and youth takes place in Old Crow on Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. local time, and there's another rapid testing clinic on Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Chief Zheh Gittlit School.

With files from Elyn Jones