‘We got this false sense of security’: Norman Wells mayor reflects on outbreak

(File photo/CKLB)

Norman Wells Mayor Frank Pope says his community had been cautious for the past 18 months, but just like the rest of the territory when summer came, restrictions began relaxing.

“Right up to maybe a month or so back, and then we got this false sense of security that things were getting better,” he explained.

However, he credits the residents’ response since the outbreak was reported.

“I say that the majority of our community have come together and are working closely together to get this next episode out of the way,” he says. 

Pope said the activated Rangers have been helpful for delivering groceries and supplies, keeping people busy has become the priority. 

“We had the town staff put together pizza kits for people to make at home,” he said. “We’re trying to find ways to be innovative.”

Norman Wells has a high vaccination rate, with 76 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated and 82 per cent partially vaccinated.

“As far as the vaccinations go, we’ve done a great job as a community getting vaccinated,” he says, adding he expects many who haven’t been vaccinated yet to do so soon.

“I think we’re now picking up people that are finally understanding why they need to have [the vaccine].”

The community had a scare last week when an outbreak was declared at the Sahtú Dene Nechá Ko ̨́ long-term care facility. But Pope says not a single resident has gotten COVID throughout the entire pandemic.

“I say the staff of the health centre and the staff at the long term care centre, have done a wonderful job looking after the residents,” he said.

Despite the high vaccination rate, the community was placed in a containment order earlier this week to prevent further spread of the virus — there are now 41 active cases in Norman Wells. 

Pope says the order didn’t surprise him considering what was happening in Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake. 

“We’re the sort of the center of that whole region so everything flows through Norman Wells,” he said. 

Pope says the one issue he has found is people from other communities under containment orders have been travelling into Norman Wells to buy supplies, including liquor. 

“We wish they’d stay the h**l home,” he said. “Let’s get through this pandemic together and there’ll be a time to party later.”

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at luke.carroll@cklbradio.com