Tsiionkwanonhso:te COVID-19 outbreak kills 5; vaccinations of residents & staff underway


By Andy Gardner

AKWESASNE – COVID-19 outbreak at the Tsiionkwanonhso:te long-term elder care facility has resulted in five resident deaths, and sickened a number of both residents and staff.

Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict said the outbreak began Dec. 15. He said he didn’t have an exact cumulative count, but as of a Tuesday, Jan. 19 interview he estimated nine active cases among residents and six among staff.

“There was a couple hospitalizations. We’ve had five deaths in the facility. I believe, most if not all of them, most were hospitalized,” Benedict said. “We’re following all the infection control guidelines as part of the prevention of the spread. The residents that are positive are isolated within the facility to stop the spread to other residents.”

The grand chief said over at the Iakhihsohtha assisted living in Tsi Snaihne, there have been no coronavirus cases among staff or residents.

He said they are starting to get their elder care staff and residents vaccinated, but that depends on the supply they get from the Canadian government.

“We work with Eastern Ontario Health Unit … they provide us with the vaccine. They get them from the province, and they have been slowly coming to the region,” Benedict said.

Right now, the MCA is focusing on getting their limited vaccine supply to the elder care facilities and other at-risk healthcare workers.

“There have been [no vaccines administered] to the community abroad. We received 200 vaccines last week. Seventy went to Tsiionkwanonhso:te, 40 went to Iakhihsohtha,” the grand chief said. “Some more healthcare workers have received doses and will be heading to other healthcare workers in the coming days.”

He said the vaccine will eventually be available to the general public.

“We have an online survey right now to gauge the community’s willingness and understanding of the vaccine. We’ve also initiated a pre-registration, so those interested in getting the vaccine, we ask them to give our community health nurses a call and let them know they’re interested,” he said, adding anyone who wants to pre-register can call 613-575-2341 and ask for community health nurses.

Benedict said community members should remain vigilant and practice public health measures intended to stop the spread of COVID-19, which includes not socializing with people outside of one’s immediate household. He said it is “extremely important we stay in our household bubbles” and not attend gatherings outside the home.

“I just got off a call with Eastern Ontario Health Unit, and most of the cases outside long-term care facilities are close contacts, and generally families, and then kind of social, and then workplace,” Benedict said. “It’s important to reiterate people need to exercise patience and continue to follow the health professional recommendations and social distancing.”

The grand chief also asks community members to “continue to exercise patience as we work through the vaccine getting rolled out.”

Anyone who wants to pre-register for vaccinations, or who needs to be tested for COVID-19, should call 613-575-2341 and ask to talk to a community health nurse.


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