Header Photo: Mayor Colleen Smook Receives her first vaccination dose on April 7, 2021.
As of April 26, 2021 at 11:45am, all Manitobans who live within the Northern Health Region, or who work in the region regularly, are eligible to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
Individuals are encouraged to make their appointments by calling (toll-free) 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) or visiting https://protectmb.ca.
Prompt Vaccination Is Critical As Third Wave Looms
As variant cases become more prevalent in Manitoba and infections increase, the province is, in many ways, racing against the crest of a third wave to ensure vaccinations are delivered promptly.
In the announcement, Dr. Joss Reimer (medical lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force) stressed the importance of vaccination for Manitobans:
“The vaccine is one way we can slow the spread of this virus and control the third wave of COVID-19. We are seeing that everyone, including younger people, is experiencing more severe outcomes from COVID and it is important that we adjust our eligibility criteria to reflect what we know, so we can protect those at risk. More than one-third of Manitobans have been immunized, and I’d encourage everyone to do the same as soon as they are eligible.”
Dr. Joss Reimer, Vaccine Implementation Task Force, VACCINE ELIGIBILITY EXPANDING TO PROTECT ADULTS IN NORTHERN MANITOBA, SEVEN OAKS WEST, Province of Manitoba, April 26, 2021
The delivery of the COVID-19 Vaxport program in the City of Thompson is beginning to take shape, and the City of Thompson is proud to be working with the Province of Manitoba and our regional partners to ensure the program’s delivery meets the needs of Thompsonites and northern Manitobans as a whole.
The City of Thompson has been engaged with the Province since the Vaxport site was announced on January 5, 2021 in order to ensure the roll-out plans best serve Thompson and northern Manitoba.
Mayor Colleen Smook notes that changes and adjustments will always be a part of charting new and unknown territory, and the City of Thompson had, and continues to have, ample opportunity to provide input.
“We’re disappointed that provincial media has portrayed our relationship with the province as terse and oppositional,” said Mayor Smook. “We’ve kept close contact with our provincial ministries since day one of the pandemic to ensure northern voices are heard, and that relationship hasn’t changed. We suggested improvements to the delivery of Vaxport in Thompson, and the Province listened.”
The Vaxport program will utilize the Thompson Regional Community Center and the Thompson Regional Airport to distribute doses of the Pfizer vaccine to local patients as well as those from remote outlying communities, respectively.
The airport is being utilized as doses of the Moderna vaccine are limited, and the Pfizer vaccine cannot be easily transported and stored at remote locations. Patients from remote communities will need to be transported to receive the vaccine in a more accessible location, and delivering the vaccine directly at the airport minimizes exposure across communities.
The TRCC, closed under Critical status restrictions, provides an accessible location for pedestrians, motorists, and public-transit users, as well as ample room for safe social distancing. It is also a well-known facility for locals and visitors, and easily accessible for intercity transport by land.
Thompson was selected for the Vaxport program as recognized northern hub for healthcare and transportation that is equipped to receive air and ground traffic from across northern Manitoba. “Thompson has been a medical hub for northern Manitobans for more than three decades,” said Mayor Smook. “We understand the challenges of the north, and we’re well-equipped to meet them.”
The Vaxport program is expected to open in Thompson on February 1.
This press release has been prepared by the YWCA. We are distributing it on their behalf at their request.
(Thompson MB – Oct 16, 2020) A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared and remains in effect at the YWCA in Thompson in an effort to stop any further spread of the virus at the facility. The public heath investigation has identified that the risk to short-term stay residents is low, however, out of an abundance of caution, public health has recommended self monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms to anyone who stayed at the YWCA between October 4 – 14, 2020.
“We thank the public and our partners for their outpouring of support during this challenging time,” Executive Director Kim Hickes said. “The outbreak is contained on the third floor and it’s important for the public to know that we are maintaining our operations in the rest of the building as best we can.”
The Y’s Shelter in Place Program (SHIPP) operates from the third floor. The program is self-contained on the third floor of the YWCA: program participants access the building through the separate entrance, and interactions with staff and clients outside of this program are extremely limited. Visitor access has been restricted as a result.
The SHIPP initiative was developed earlier this year to address concerns over COVID-19 and Thompson’s homeless residents.
Public Health staff from the Northern Health Region are conducting contact tracing and are supervising the staff and clients currently in isolation.
“We really need a community effort to support the Y and its operations as they work with health officials to contain and address this outbreak,” YWCA Board President Charlene Lafreniere said. “Kindness and understanding go a long way at a time like this and we know if we work together as Northerners, we can beat this.”
Media Contact: Kim Hickes, Executive Director YWCA (204) 679-7069
Though masks may offer you limited protection, their primary purpose is to keep other people safe. That means that the more people who wear masks, the more effective masks are at stopping the spread of the disease.
What makes a good non-medical mask?
The best materials for non-medical masks include at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric. They should provide a relatively snug fit over your mouth and nose, and ideally under your chin to catch the most droplets.
You can test how effective your mask is with a candle or a lighter. A good mask should make it difficult to blow out the lighter.
How do I make the most of my mask?
Health Canada offers these guidelines for wearing and handling non-medical masks:
Wear your mask over your mouth and nose.
Inspect your mask for rips and holes regularly.
Handle your mask by the ear loops, and avoid touching the surface with unclean hands.
Wash your re-usable mask in warm, soapy water regularly.
Keep a paper bag or ziploc handy to store your mask when not in use.
Don’t wear your mask loosely.
Don’t remove your mask to talk to someone.
Don’t share your mask
Don’t leave your mask hanging off of an ear or your neck.
I have a hard time wearing a mask. What can I do?
Breathe through your nose. We often instinctively breathe through our mouths when something is put over our face. However, this is a fight-or-flight response, and can lead to feelings of panic and anxiety. Try to consciously remember to breathe through your nose. It will smell a lot better, too.
You may need a different mask. Try a variety of cuts and materials that still meet the basic requirements for a mask. The best masks are light and resist moisture build-up inside.
If your glasses fog up a lot while wearing a mask, try anti-fog wipeslike these ones from Smith Optics. They use a hydrophobic coating to stop glasses from fogging up once applied. They work great, and they’re especially handy in the winter, pandemic or not!
Neckwarmers may not be enough.
Research-wise, the jury is out whether neckwarmers are an effective mask. It will also be up to businesses and service providers to decide whether they will allow neckwarmers to substitute for masks during the winter.
The safest bet is to carry a dedicated mask to use indoors!
Masks are just one part of staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has officially been identified in Thompson for the first time since the spring, so its important we all take basic pandemic precautions seriously.
Please remember the basic rules and guidelines that have been in place since March. Don’t wait until the numbers start climbing: following these guidelines now helps ensure that local cases remain isolated and do not spread.
Stay home when you’re sick. If you can work from home, great! If you can’t, be sure to speak with your employer about your options around time off due to illness.
Space yourselves out. Two meters/six feet is the standard distance, however this is only a guideline. The more distance you give people, the better.
Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. At the very least, clean your hands before entering a public place, and after you get home.
Limit your shopping trips, and the number of shoppers. Make a list of what you need, and send only one person at a time to run errands. This limits your exposure and gives everyone room to breathe. Follow all precautions put in place by stores and service providers.
Provincial Public Health officials have confirmed a case of COVID-19 in the Thompson/Mystery Lake District of the Northern Health Region.
Public Health nurses and staff are already conducting extensive contact tracing and monitoring, and the City of Thompson is working closely with the Northern Health Region and community partners to help contain this event.
Mayor and Council would like to remind residents to continue to practice the fundamentals to keep COVID-19 at bay in the North:
Stay home when you feel sick;
Wash your hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
Cover your cough or sneeze;
Follow all precautions implemented by local businesses;
Maintain physical (social) distancing, and wear a mask when in group settings;
Limit errand runs and groceries to one person, if possible.
“No one should be surprised or caught off-guard by this announcement: we knew this day was coming. That’s why it’s important that we follow precautions and public health orders properly,” said Mayor Colleen Smook. “This positive case does not need to turn into an outbreak, but we need to start taking this virus seriously.”
All municipalities in Manitoba have been advised to refer to and publish case information as it is publicly released by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer and the Province of Manitoba to ensure information is accurate and consistent. The City of Thompson will provide updates as the situation progresses, in due collaboration with provincial authorities.
While the TRCC is closed, our team at Recreation, Parks, and Culture have been busy using the opportunity to meticulously clean and and maintain the TRCC and our other facilities. Recreation and fitness facilities are not due to re-open for a long time yet, but our aim is to ensure that when we do re-open, our residents feel safe and confident that the facility is ready for use.
Staff from Recreation have been working at City Hall and at the Public Works building to help ramp up our sanitation practices indoors.
During the winter, our maintenance team helped supplement snow clearing efforts around town (particularly sidewalks), and as the snow melts, they’re helping Public Works speed up their pothole repairs around town. They’ve also continued to clear the Millennium Trail and the Dog Park to help residents ensure they have a safe outdoor space to have fun while giving each other plenty of room.
TRCC Cleaning and Maintenance
Our staff at the TRCC have been busy taking advantage of the shut-down to polish up the building!
CA Nesbitt and Gordon Beard Arenas
Removed ice from the arenas and washed concrete floors;
Swept and pressure-washed bleachers;
Painted the walls of the CA Nesbitt Main Area;
Painted yellow visibility stripes on the CA Nesbitt stairs;
Repaired the doors to the CA Nesbitt Arena;
Cleaned the Gordon Beard arena boards;
Cleaned dressing rooms and disinfected the showers;
Replaced benches in Dressing Room 5 with Composite Wood;
Scrubbed scuffs and black marks from the dressing room hallways;
Bill Comaskey Wellness Center/Fitness Area
Deep cleaned and re-arranged equipment in the fitness area;
Added three new machines to the fitness area;
Cleaned all the light fixtures and ducting;
Replaced all burnt out lights;
Cleaned all of the windows;
Removed tape, gum, and black marks from the Wellness Center floor
Our maintenance team will be cleaning the play area over the next 1-2 weeks, including equipment, floors, walls, ducts, and vents.
TRCC (In General)
Refurbished merchandise display in the TRCC;
Steam cleaned all bathrooms and change rooms;
Cleaned and buffed the lobby and hallway floors with three coats of wax;
Scrubbed and steam-cleaned the entrance floor, and deep-cleaned the carpets;
Repaired the grouting in the main entrance;
Cleaned and disinfected all garbage cans;
Cleaned and disinfected front reception area;
Cleaned the front office gate;
Cleaned the carpet in the Mary Fenske Board Room;
Deep-cleaned our storage areas;
Repaired many walls in preparation for painting;
We’ve also cleaned up the Southwood and Juniper warm-up shacks to ensure they’re ready for next winter!
Re-opening recreation and fitness facilities is part of the Province of Manitoba’s Phase 3 plan, and it’s going to be a while before we reach that point.
In the meantime, our staff are keeping busy, and we’re excited for the day we get to welcome everyone back inside!
If you’re going stir-crazy at home, check out Thompson Rec at Home on Facebook, where our Special Events Coordinator is curating cute and fun activities to keep you and your family busy throughout the week! You can also follow along right here, where we’ll be posting new activities every Wednesday!
Edit: 25 residents are being housed in the dormitories, rather than 21 as previously reported.
With support of the City of Thompson, the Thompson Homeless Shelter, and Thompson’s Community Advisory Board on Homelessness, 25 regular users of the Thompson Homeless Shelter (THS) have been relocated to the YWCA’s dormitories to aid with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic as of this morning. The individuals were selected based on their elevated risk, including factors like age, medical conditions, and more.
The YWCA has designated an area of the facility specifically for shelter users, and they have been screened for temperature and recent history on arrival. The YWCA is providing food, and those staying at the facility encouraged to remain near the building for the duration of the Province’s current Public Health Orders. The facility is staffed with additional security 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants are permitted on site.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak has also donated hygiene hampers for the homeless residents being housed at the YWCA, including supplies like soap, shampoo, and a change of clothes.
The YWCA housing is being funded entirely through the $2.2 billion federal Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy. As part of the strategy, the federal government announced in May 2019 that it would be providing Thompson with $1.74 million in funding over 5 years (2019-2024) to support homelessness initiatives like the Thompson Homeless Shelter. This year, the City received an additional $200, 000 to support COVID-19 safety among Thompson’s homeless residents.
The Work Isn’t Over
52 individuals are still relying on the existing Thompson Homeless Shelter for a place to sleep every night, not including individuals who have homes in outlying communities but are stranded in Thompson.
After investigating the Polaris #6 building, which has been disused for 2 years, inspectors determined that the building would need more extensive repairs than previously expected before it would be suitable as emergency housing.
The City of Thompson, the Thompson Homeless Shelter, and the Community Advisory Board on Homelessness, are still investigating other possible options for pandemic-safe housing. Both the Keewatin Tribal Council and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak have also applied for additional COVID-19 specific funding to support projects for vulnerable people in the north.
In the meantime, the RCMP’s Community Relations Unit and the City of Thompson’s CSOs continue to patrol Thompson’s downtown to help make Thompson’s homeless and at-risk residents more aware of COVID-19 and the risks it presents to their community.