Gerry Thiessen. (File photo)

Column: COVID-19 and Vanderhoof’s response

Mayor Gerry Thiessen writes to residents amidst the global pandemic.

By Gerry Thiessen, Mayor of Vanderhoof

March 11, my wife Lesley and I came back from a winter holiday with a full calendar of traveling and meetings. Life was so exciting, then on Thursday, the next day, I was asked about self isolation; I had no idea that it was something I should consider. Wow! How ten days have changed my life, I wish I had kept a diary.

This past week I have had numerous telephone meetings, with Police, Hospital, Doctors, School District, both large sawmills, grocery stores, downtown businesses, services and the list goes on. I am very impressed by how our community is reacting in this unprecedented time in history.

I will continue to work with our local elected Vanderhoof Council and our Regional District representative to develop a communication strategy for this time.

There are two things I want to share, as Mayor of the town of Vanderhoof, and Chair of the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako.

Firstly, act as if this virus is already in our area.

I’m not aware of any confirmed cases of the virus in our town or Regional District. This is a deadly virus, but we can ‘flatten out the curve’ on the stress on our health care system.

Dr Bonnie Henry often highlights 4 simple principles that we need to focus on, especially over the next 3 weeks.

• Make sure you do the physical distancing of 2 metres.

• Wash your hands with soap and water often.

• If you feel sick at all, stay home and self isolate.

• No group of more than 50 people.

We are a town of large families and many churches. This is not a time to have a big family Easter Dinner, and I won’t be going to church until at least May 30 when the Order is lifted.

Secondly, this is a time we need to take care of people in our community. We have been very self sufficient, especially in the last few years. I personally am concerned about two groups: our youth, and our seniors.

In Vanderhoof there is a Back Pack program, it feeds children when they are not in school and can take advantage of the Breakfast Club and the school’s lunch program. When school is back in session, I would encourage you to go to the SD91 School Board Office to donate funds to their food programs.

Next, I’m concerned about our seniors, we have a program through Connexus (formally know as Nechako Valley Community Services) called Seniors Connected.

They do a great job of connecting with seniors. We can’t physically visit seniors, but every day, each one of us has a responsibility to connect with a senior in Vanderhoof.

I am grateful for our grocery stores and businesses that are delivering to our seniors and are opening their doors early for them. We are grateful for all our ‘essential services’ people in our community who work tirelessly for the benefit of all of us.

We want to only post confirmed links of information and make decisions consistent with the Province. Please go to the District of Vanderhoof website for regular information on COVID-19.

This crisis will not go on forever, we can be a better community at the end of it. Be kind to one another, we can do this together.


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