An open letter to the people of Saskatchewan

Community Medical Officers of Health

On Monday, March 29, 2021, the Province of Saskatchewan launched a campaign titled Stick It To COVID aimed at encouraging Saskatchewan residents to get their COVID-19 vaccine when it’s their turn.

One of the most important things we can ask you to do is get vaccinated. The vaccines available are safe, effective and they will save countless lives. They are also part of our path back to normalcy. But for some, the effect of the vaccines will not come soon enough. Unless we take all of our other public health precautions seriously in the days ahead, some will not survive to see those normal days.

Vaccinations won’t be enough. As a result of the more harmful variants of the COVID-19 virus, we are seeing a dramatic rise in cases circulating in some communities. These Variants of Concern spread faster and make people sicker. In the areas where they are most prevalent, like Regina, Moose Jaw and the southeast, they send more and more young people to hospital and are filling up our intensive care units.

This is highly concerning, especially as we approach Easter break. Transmission between households is one of the top causes of COVID transmission. Holiday travel has the potential to carry the virus around the province. We typically see case surges post holidays. Easter brings us to another tipping point.

It is more critical now than ever to follow public health orders, which are the law, and other guidelines around physical distancing, limiting your bubble, wearing a mask in public, washing your hands regularly, and staying isolated and getting tested as soon as possible if you’re sick. We must all do this to get through this pandemic.

But following public health orders is the bare minimum you should be doing. Like driving through a bad snow storm, the risks are too great if we hurtle along at the speed limit oblivious to the icy roads and reduced visibility that threaten to plunge us into the ditch. So have a plan to protect yourself and those you love. Plan virtual gatherings, meals and game nights. It’s like planning to drive taking into account the road conditions.

We are asking you to ask yourself: “Just because I can do it, should I do it?”

That means avoiding non-essential travel to anywhere outside your home community, putting off that Easter family gathering until next year, ordering in rather than dining out, leaving a shop you feel is uncomfortably crowded or sacrificing a visit from a loved one to ensure you, and they, stay safe. For those in the Regina area, these are things you are currently doing under the public health order and others could follow suit if we aren’t more diligent. We know when a prairie storm worsens, roads get closed. That has already started to happen in Regina; let’s keep the storm from worsening elsewhere.

In the days ahead, sticking it to COVID shouldn’t just mean getting your vaccine when it’s available, but also fighting it with all the tools in your tool box. As you imagine what normal looks like, imagine it with one fewer family member beside you. Imagine the next Roughrider game or music festival without your best friend along to clap and cheer. That’s what’s at stake. Because if we don’t Stick it to COVID now, not all of us will be around to celebrate defeating it later.

Have a happy, safe and physically distant Easter break.

Your Community Medical Officers of Health in Saskatchewan (including Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, Medical Health Officer – Prince Albert, Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority and Dr. Khami Chokani,Medical Health Officer – Prince Albert, SHA