Taking advantage of their first opportunity together to compare notes on the community COVID clinic, Prince Rupert City Council members offered up a mixture of praise for the organizers, a salute to the community spirit that was seen over the course of the eight days of vaccination shots and reminders that the challenges of COVID in the community are not over yet.
Speaking as part of the final moments of the Monday Council session, the themes explored by Prince Rupert's elected officials included:
Councillor Nick Adey:
"I just wanted to jump in there to say what probably several people are wanting to say, very much top of mind this week the marvelous job that was done down at the Civic Centre with the vaccinations, I know that the community as a whole participated massively in this and I think that the first point of congratulation needs to go to the community itself for the strength of the volunteer effort. But also to the various officials and levels of government that participated in making it happen ... I'm looking forward to hearing in as specific detail as the Health Authorities are likely to give us, what our numbers look like in three or four weeks, compared to what they looked like in the last month. Hopefully all a positive trend. And just a reminder that it's a vaccination, it does not prevent transmission and that we must continue to be vigilant until the broader problem resolves itself and we can say that it's behind us "
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa:
"I would like to thank all the front line workers, staff, city staff, all the volunteers and everybody involved in the vaccination and I would like to ask Northern Health to give the second dose to all of our front line workers, because there ... is a wait of four months and other communities like Terrace and First Nations communities are already getting their second dose for front line workers. So I think if we can get our front line workers a second dose that would help in preventing COVID and it would keep our front line worker safe and our community safe. And if Councillor Cunningham could bring that up in the next meeting that would be appreciated"
Councillor Barry Cunningham:
"I would like to thank Northern Health and particularly Julia Pemberton for organizing the vaccines last week, she did it on very short notice. Northern Health stepped up to the plate and brought in a lot of personnel, the community as a whole was fantastic. You know, I volunteered on three different days and I couldn't believe the atmosphere down there and how efficiently it was run. And I just found out a couple of hours ago that our numbers are between 7,700 and 8,000 that were vaccinated this week and the numbers for today aren't in so there's a discrepancy ... so they more than achieved the percentage that they wanted to And also I would like to point out (and) thank the City and the staff for donating the Civic Centre to this is. As it was pointed out to us Northern Health was willing to pay for it and the City said no, this is our contribution to it and that was a great gesture because other communities are actually not doing that yet anyways, so we might lead the way on that. Also it was so successful they are looking at it as a model for other communities that have that type of situation where they are going to vaccinate the whole community"
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven:
"I just wanted to echo a lot of those notions and really acknowledge Northern Health their front line staff and First Nations Health Authority, as well as all the volunteers that mobilized really quickly and also that this now like I mentioned before will be a model for other communities that will be going through these community vaccination processes ... We still have to remain vigilant with our cases are still surging at this time, there has been a lot of community members and some as young as nineteen years old now fighting for their lives. This is something that I don't think is being covered enough unfortunately by the media and I think that the word needs to get out there. And for me as someone who has been continuously banging this drum, I think that there's some responsibility for these media outlets to now starting speaking about this topic and making folks aware ... We've now become kind of the epicentre of what Northern BC is experiencing and I really want folks to take this seriously and I think that the media needs to do its part"
Councillor Blair Mirau:
"I do just want to add a just a couple of notes to kind of split the difference on the overwhelmingly positive reaction of this vaccination clinic. You know with approximately 9,000 people over the age of eighteen in Prince Rupert, if we're approaching anywhere close to 8,000 as Councillor Cunningham has said, then we're well above what is generally accepted to be the threshold for herd immunity which is 70% as kind of what experts have agreed is the bare minimum ... This is bittersweet the only reason that we have been prioritized is because we've lost 16 of our loved ones, because dozens of our health care staff on the front lines have tested positive, because we don't have enough acute care beds to actually handle the number of cases that are coming to our one regional hospital. I've been doing a lot of media in the last week to try to tell Prince Rupert's story a little better ... I really do want to celebrate the amazing mobilization the fact that the community responded in spades, that we had over 400 volunteers put their names forward to help out in the first sixteen hours of this announcement, that this thing was pulled together in basically less than a week is all astounding, but I think it is tempered by that incredibly bittersweet reality"
And indeed as we noted last night, the reminder that the challenges of COVID remain with us was clearly delivered yesterday by the BC Centre for Disease Control which released their weekly review of local COVID cases across the province noting that for the sixth consecutive week, Prince Rupert continues to claim the highest level of COVID reports in Northwestern British Columbia at 113 cases noted in this weeks report.
You can review the COVID commentary from Council through the City's Video Archive, starting at the two hour thirty four minute mark.
For more notes from Monday's Council Session see our Council Timeline feature here.
A wider overview of past Council themes can be explored from our Council Discussion archive here.