By Conrad Dudderar
With new positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations declining, the City of Yukon’s mask policy remains in effect – at least through the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Yukon COVID-19 Task Force members this week urged residents to stay alert against the virus and to register for the vaccine if they hadn’t already.
Yukon’s emergency proclamation still requires restaurant cooks, servers and bartenders and anyone inside city-owned buildings to wear facemasks.
“Even though our numbers are going down, I want to be back fully open and unmasked soon,” Mayor Shelli Selby told Yukon citizens during the March 2nd city council meeting. “I’m ready to see your face.”
Selby wondered whether virus cases are down since more people are receiving the vaccine or because so many residents were “isolated” during a recent stretch of bad weather. Spring break is coming up.
The mayor indicated city officials will wait until the end of March before deciding whether to keep Yukon’s mask requirements in place. She noted several surrounding cities have extended their policies through April.
“I still have people asking for a complete citywide mask mandate,” Selby said during the March 3rd Yukon COVID-19 Task Force meeting. “What I see when I go out to shop is most people are wearing masks, most businesses are requiring it and most people are complying with that.”
Selby said she wants to make sure it’s “not a fluke” that case numbers are down.
Teresa Gray, president of INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital in Yukon, reported the hospital was finally in “single-digit” numbers with eight positive COVID-19 patients. Only one ICVH caregiver – among 11 across the INTEGRIS Health system – was out after testing positive.
“That is outstanding news for us; that has been a huge relief in our workforce,” Gray shared. “In December, we had as many as 252 caregivers out with COVID.”
The Yukon hospital is seeing “very positive trends” as these numbers decline, she added.
Spanish Cove Retirement Village will follow a phased recovery plan as more activities and visitations resume soon and its dining room reopens (at 50% capacity).
“We’re really encouraged by the data that we’re seeing, statewide and countywide,” said Don Blose, CEO of Yukon’s largest senior community. “The numbers are really trending down, which is great news.”
With county long-term care infection rates below 10%, indoor visitation will be allowed in the Cove’s nursing home and assisted living areas.
Maggie Jackson, community engagement and planning director at the Canadian County Health Department, said Oklahoma is “still in the thick” of vaccine distribution. She shared this data at the March 3rd Yukon COVID-19 Task Force meeting:
- Some 19.1% of Canadian County residents over age 16 and 56% over age 65 have received at least one dose.
- Some 11% of Canadian County residents over age 16 and 35% over age 65 have received two doses.
“We still have a lot of seniors who still need to get their second dose,” Jackson said.
About 500-600 people are typically vaccinated weekly at the CCHD’s vaccination site in Mustang.
The state health department and its vaccine partners – specifically healthcare providers and pharmacies – were preparing this week to administer the new Johnson & Johnson one-dose COVID vaccine.
“It’s 86% effective against severe illness, so that’s great protection,” Jackson said. “That’s really an effective vaccine.”
Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines have two doses with 90-95% efficacy.
The CCHD spokeswoman referred to a recent decline in positive virus cases.
“We were isolating for a while with the weather, so we may see another uptick,” Jackson added. “It’s hard to tell, at this point, how much the vaccine is impacting our population numbers. With 20%, we’re going to start to see the vaccine impact our decline.”
Spanish Cove’s Blose, a former state immunization director, is encouraged by the increasing vaccination levels.
“The more that we can produce herd immunity within our community from the vaccine, the better off we all are in the long run,” he said.