COVID-19 is spreading faster than ever on Six Nations of the Grand River.
Six Nations Health Services reported 114 active cases on Sunday, setting a record that promptly rose to 116 on Monday.
Four COVID-19 patients are in hospital, and the disease has killed three band members since the pandemic began.
After keeping COVID-19 under control throughout the spring and summer — helped by an early lockdown that limited outside access to the territory — cases began to climb in October and haven’t stopped.
The recent spike has been especially worrisome, with 115 of the reserve’s 365 total positive cases identified in the past 10 days.
Public health officials, elected councillors and members of the reserve’s emergency control group issued a joint statement on Monday again urging band members to stay at home.
“There are to be absolutely no private gatherings with anyone outside of your immediate household. People should be staying home and only leaving their home for absolutely essential purposes,” the statement read.
In recent days, public health identified “large gatherings” as a source of community spread, but did not provide further details.
Mid-winter ceremonies in January were blamed for a spike in cases at that time, and public health also said a “steady stream” of cross-border travel was bringing the virus onto the reserve.
Elected council is now asking band members to wear masks inside their own homes to protect high-risk family members, including seniors and those with underlying health conditions.
“Each of us needs to be doing our part to protect these populations, ourselves, and others from COVID-19,” council said in the statement.
Health officials said more contagious variants of COVID-19 that have been detected in surrounding communities have not yet been found on the reserve.
“We have been fighting this virus for almost a year and the community is tired,” elected council said.
“Our health-care workers are overwhelmed. We all need to come together to contain and defeat this virus so that we may gather once again.”
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator