By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Two more annual City of Yukon special events have been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
The highly popular Yukon Chocolate Festival and Daddy-Daughter Dance are among latest victims of the devastating virus.
Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby shared the frustrating news at the end of the Jan. 5th Yukon City Council meeting.
Another well-attended event, the Ground Hog Dinner at Yukon’s First United Methodist Church, also has been canceled.
“These are hard times that we live in,” Selby said. “As we know, it’s a new year that’s here – 2021. We left 2020 behind gladly. There are so many things that we’ve gone through as a city and as a community.
“I hope there’s a few things that we kept. And one of those is our love for community, being together and relationships. And that we just take time to enjoy one another.”
Virus concerns prompted the cancellation of several large events in 2020, notably the annual Czech Festival heritage celebration and Rock the Route musical festival.
Many other special events were either postponed or scaled back due to COVID-19 protocols.
Ward 4 City Council Member Aric Gilliland thanked local health professionals and front-line responders for their response to this health crisis.
“Their workload has increased tremendously – probably more than any of us realize,” Gilliland said. “They are to be commended.”
Maggie Jackson, community engagement and planning director at the Canadian County Health Department, provided city council members with an extensive COVID-19 update.
Jackson discussed vaccine clinics the CCHD is offering, saying the vaccine distribution is “our top priority.”
“If anybody calls the health department, we’re just asking everybody for patience,” Jackson added. “We want to get this vaccine out to as many people, as quickly as we can.
“We have a huge demand. People are calling ‘off the charts.’ We have lots of people who are a high priority and we want to get them in as quickly as we can.”
Appointments may be made by phone at (405) 262-0042 or through the Oklahoma State Health Department website or Facebook page.
“We are still recommending the non-pharmaceutical mitigation efforts for COVID-19, including wearing masks, social distancing and washing your hands,” Jackson told council members.
She shared statewide data showing municipalities with mask mandates average 11% fewer cases than those without.
“We are still recommending policies promoting masks in businesses, schools and in communities,” Jackson said.
“The virus builds in your body and you are contagious before you have symptoms. … People can be spreading it before they know they’ve been exposed and could expose others.”
Even after receiving the vaccine, people are being advised to wear masks.
“We are still recommending it,” Jackson said. “We know both vaccines are effective at preventing you from become sick with COVID-19.
“But you still have the potential, if you get the vaccine, to have the virus and transmit it to someone else. We just don’t have enough of that ‘herd immunity’ that we all want.”
As of Jan. 5, there were 1,332 active cases reported in Canadian County – with 599 of those in Yukon. There were 53 deaths, with 18 reported in Yukon.
“We’ve have seen quite a large spike,” she said. “At the end of November, we had a surge in our hospitals. We’ve had surges across the state, really.
“We have yet to see what Christmas and New Year’s might have done.”
On a positive note, Jackson reported that Canadian County’s hospitalization rate is under 4% – lower than the statewide average.