Cowichan Tribes has had its first death from COVID-19.
Chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the death on Tuesday, although he didn’t have any specific details.
“I never got a name,” he said. “I was just informed that we lost a community member.”
Cowichan Tribes announced on Monday that there had been 171 cases in the community, up from 128 a week earlier. Of those 171, 125 had recovered, six were in hospital, and 39 were in isolation. The First Nation was able to vaccinate 600 of its roughly 5,000 members on Jan. 13 and 14.
“It looks like the number of recoveries is pretty good,” the chief said. “I’m praying.”
In line with their traditional teachings, and to honour and respect the grieving family, Cowichan Tribes has also said it will take a break from providing updates on confirmed COVID numbers.
A shelter-in-place order for Cowichan Tribes members has been extended two weeks. It was originally scheduled to end on Jan. 22, but will now stay in effect through Feb. 5
Under the shelter-in-place order, all members are required to stay at home. Access to residential areas and residential buildings on reserve land is restricted. Barriers and checkpoints have been set up to enforce the order and provide information.
Residents may only leave their homes for work, school, medical appointments, to get groceries, medicine or other essential items, or to care for a family member who is ill. Households are asked to designate one person to go shopping, and to limit shopping trips to once per week. If possible, they should order over the phone and have essential items delivered to their homes.
Residents are not permitted to gather or hold events indoors or outdoors with people from outside their household.
Squtxulenhuw has also informed local businesses about the specifics of the order following some racist responses in the larger community to the Cowichan Tribes outbreak.
“It’s got to stop,” he said. “I sent a letter out to all the stores and restaurants explaining the order. We’re not locking up our community; only if someone has tested positive do they need to go into isolation. I hope they understand that. I’ve had a couple of calls apologizing. It’s getting out there. I’ve had some feedback, and it’s all been positive.”