Saskatchewan Party government failing to deal with Covid effectively

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Saskatchewan Party government failing to deal with Covid effectively

As Covid spreads like a prairie grass fire in the province, the provincial nurses union are warning that "Leaving contact tracing to the public 'irresponsible".

The Saskatchewan Health Authority announced on Friday it would leave COVID-19 contact tracing to the public, but experts and critics say removing that service will only stress the health-care sector.  In a news release, the SHA said that their new "modified approach" to contact tracing will place the responsibility of contact tracing on the COVID-positive person. The change means that the SHA will inform the person who has tested positive about how to trace, and leave it to them. "Leaving this up to the public to do is … absolutely irresponsible, and it's putting all of us at risk," Tracy Zambory, the president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses said, calling it an "dereliction of duty" by both the SHA and the government. "We have to be able to understand the transmission in our communities. Without that, we are really in a very vulnerable position." ...

Rising cases have stunted public health resources, the SHA said, making it difficult to contact trace fast enough.   Zambory said she's spoken with nurses who feel extremely nervous about the province's current pandemic trajectory. ...

The province reported 389 new cases and 138 people in hospital on Sunday, although Zambory said she's heard from nurses that case numbers could be skewed by a work backlog.  Contact tracing was, she said, an important part of Saskatchewan's offensive strategy. Now the health-care system will have to "brace for a storm that we can't see coming." Contact tracing can take hours and Zambory doesn't expect the public to follow-up. Those who do won't be able to do the job as well as trained nurses, she said. Zambory said nurses are feeling "demoralized" and "exhausted" from the overwhelming effect COVID-19 has had in the province.

Carolyn Brost Strom, a registered nurse who is a positive case investigator in the north central area of the province, said in a Twitter thread that nurses are clearly outnumbered in their fight.  ... 

"You are not going to win the championship (ie: end this pandemic) relying on defence alone (which is hospitals and ICUs), and with players on the injured list or free agency (staff burned out or leaving)," she said.  "You need your offence (your testing, case investigations, contact tracing) to put you ahead … We need the public's help (our 13th man) and we need the coach to come back [out] of retirement/sabbatical (the government) to make the right policy decisions (masks, mandatory vaccines, mandate isolation)." Strom said that she, and others like her, need more help "from everyone." ...

Dr. Dennis Kendel, a health policy consultant, calls the government's decision "disappointing, one of the sort of bedrocks of controlling community spread of any virus is the test-trace-isolate triad," he said.  "It's analogous to flying in the dark with no instruments ... you're going to crash into something."


Saskatchewan now has the highest active Covid infection rate at 217 per 100,000 according to CBC News Network, illustrating the depth of the stress on the provinces healthcare system and the failure of the government to deal effectively with the pandemic. 


Saskatchewan doctors are warning are that the provincial government is downplaying the Covid crisis in the province.

Dr. Paul Olszynski has been working in Saskatoon emergency rooms for 14 years and he's never seen the system under as much strain as it is right now under the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"There's a chance of a bad outcome if we don't do something now," he said. 

On Wednesday, Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health reported 321 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths from the disease. 

There are 134 infected people in hospital across the province, including 30 people under intensive care — the highest number of concurrent ICU patients since early May during the pandemic's third wave....

Nearly half of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19 — 44 people — are lying in Saskatoon's Royal University, St. Paul's and City hospitals, where Olsynzski works in the emergency departments. 

"Unequivocally, we are under significant strain," he said, noting that it's a combination of non-COVID and COVID patients that's causing so much pressure, resulting in staff burnout. "People just unable to pick up shifts, take on more shifts, and in some cases, people pulling back a little bit because they don't feel like they're working in a safe environment or don't think they can provide the care that they think they should be able to," Olsynzski said. 

Then there's the added challenge of a virus running "completely unchecked" among about 300,000 unvaccinated people, Olsynzski said.  "That's essentially like unleashing the virus on all of Saskatoon." Further complicating matters is what Olszynski describes as a lack of support and recognition from the Saskatchewan government.  "Our government officials have not identified the situation and presented it to the public," he said.


The Saskatchewan Health Authority is slowing and pausing some services due to 'unchecked spread of COVID' among unvaccinated but the media only learned of this through the leaking of an internal memo. Of course the memo doesn't discuss how the Moe and his Saskatchewan Party's government actions have contributed to the dire situation.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is slowing down and pausing its non-critical and elective services to focus on COVID-19 efforts, the province confirmed Friday morning. 

CBC News first learned of the slowdown from an internal SHA newsletter that circulated to staff Thursday.

In it, SHA president and CEO Scott Livingstone wrote that "in the coming days" health authority leaders will work to implement changes to help cope with the extreme stress teams are under. The slowdown could affect surgical wait lists and "these types of services," he said. "The harsh reality is: there are no easy choices. We will slow down services, but that will have consequences too," he wrote.  Livingstone's message went on to reiterate to staff that vaccines work and that unvaccinated people continue to clog up the province's health-care system.

"The unchecked spread of COVID among this population is escalating pressure on our hospitals and will result in Saskatchewan residents going without certain health services that they rely on to maintain their quality of life," he said. 

"Not only are they choosing to risk their own lives by going without the protection vaccines provide, they are risking the lives of those they love and those in their communities." ...

On Tuesday, in another internal newsletter to SHA staff, Livingstone noted that, at the time, one in five Saskatchewan health-care workers were not vaccinated.


On Monday Saskatchewan set a new record for Covid infections, causing it to re-enact an emergency order to deal with a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, as doctors continue to warn the system is on the verge of collapse and there is a shortage of medical personnel. 

On Monday the province saw 449 new cases of COVID-19 – its highest single-day count of new infections during the pandemic.

The same day, it also re-enacted an emergency order to deal with a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations. There were 209 people in hospital with COVID-19, 41 of them in intensive care.

The order, which previously ended July 11, gives the government the power to redirect health-care workers to areas experiencing pressure from COVID-19.

And the Saskatchewan Health Authority activated a plan to reduce elective surgeries in order to free up staff, mainly to care for unvaccinated patients in hospital with the virus.

“We can’t care for you when there’s nowhere to put you,” said Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease physician in Regina.

“And it’s not just a matter of where. It’s a matter of no one to actually look after you.”

Premier Scott Moe said last week that 17,000 health-care worker shifts were unfilled in July, an increase of 160 per cent from the year prior.

Beds are limited as well. The health authority said it increased its 79 intensive care beds to 130 to accommodate a projected need for 80 COVID-19 intensive care patients, while also leaving beds for 50 ICU patients without COVID-19.

“The trends are not pointing in a safe direction right now,” Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said Friday.


On Tuesday Saskatchewan broke Monday's record for infections as the Covid crisis continues to worsen, with 20% being children. 

Saskatchewan saw another record-setting day for COVID-19 on Tuesday, reporting 506 confirmed cases – 20 per cent of which were children who are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the 506 new cases, 436 were unvaccinated, 22 are partially vaccinated and 58 are fully vaccinated.

The Government of Saskatchewan has started releasing COVID-19 data for youth broken down into two age groups: 0-11 and 12-19.

On Tuesday, 101 of the 506 new reported cases were in the 0-11 age group. Children under 12 are not currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Canada.

Two people died after testing positive for the disease.



When Alabama is warning Saskatchewan to not commit the mistakes it made with Covid you know the province is deep into the do-do. 

It has one of the country's highest COVID-19 infection rates and lowest vaccination rates.

Hospital admissions are soaring, with many surgeries and other medical care cancelled or delayed.

For weeks, its medical community has called for indoor mask mandates and vaccine passports to curb the spread of COVID-19, but its political leadership repeatedly resists those calls, citing individual freedoms.

This describes the situation in Saskatchewan, but also the American state of Alabama.

Alabama health professionals interviewed by CBC News say their case numbers began to spike earlier than those in Saskatchewan, but the province is trending in the same direction. They say Saskatchewan should learn from the unnecessary tragedy and death sweeping their state. ...

In Alabama, overwhelmed nurses have been staging brief walkouts outside their own hospitals before their shifts in a "cry for help," but nothing seems to be working, said Lindsey Harris, president of the Alabama State Nurses Association.

"We are so tired," Harris said. "We are the backbone of the system. Nurses being on the front lines. Nurses being there when patients come in and when patients die. It is especially draining for nurses at this time. More people will die until we do what it takes."

They say the solution is simple: Leaders should make decisions based on expert advice and evidence, not political calculations.

"Vaccine passports and indoor masking mandates — those are the two things that could make the most difference right now. We know that. The science tells us that," said Dr. Paul Erwin, dean of the school of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "I can't speculate on why they haven't done it, other than their particular political persuasion."


The crisis in Saskatchewan has gotten worse every day this week as Moe continues to flail away at dealing with the pandemic alternating between cracking down and doing little, while blaming the unvaccinated for causing the problem, which is partly true, but leaving out any apology for his action, which even Kenney was able to do, at least in a feeble apology that was followed by excuses for every one of the policies that he followed. 

Saskatchewan reached two COVID-19 milestones on Wednesday, breaking 60,000 total cases so far, and 4,000 known active cases for the third time during the pandemic.  The province has had 60,149 cases since the beginning of the pandemic and currently has 4,016 known active cases, according to the provincial dashboard.  The last time Saskatchewan reached more than 4,000 cases was in January. The most known active cases the province has faced in the pandemic so far was 4,763 on Dec. 7.

Nationally, Saskatchewan has the third most active COVID-19 cases per capita, according to federal data. The province has 333 active cases per 100,000 people, behind the Northwest Territories (385) and Alberta (413). 

However, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of cases over the past 14 days, with about 450 cases per 100,000 people. 

Saskatchewan reported 475 new cases on Wednesday. Of them, more than one in three (about 35 per cent) are in people 19 or younger, and about one in five new cases are in kids 11 and under. About one in seven new cases (15 per cent) were in people who were fully vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus.  Another 26 (six per cent) of new cases were in partially vaccinated people and 377 people (79 per cent) were in unvaccinated people. There were also two new deaths, both in the Saskatoon area.


Saskatchewan doctors are calling out Premier Moe after he repeated "a statement he made the week before about Saskatchewan doctors needing to do more in order to quell disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines."

“I would hope that in the days ahead we could see our medical community really engaging, to take a direct look at some of the misinformation that’s being provided and provide some answers for Saskatchewan people,” Moe said. “I think we have a very active and engaged medical community, highly intelligent community that I think could really answer the bell as to what Saskatchewan people are looking for,” he said.

Tuesday evening, Dr. Tamara Hinz took to social media to convey her dismay at what the Moe said.

In a thread on Twitter directed at the premier, Hinz said, “It was more than disheartening to hear you talk today about how doctors should start publicly educating and talking to media to counter pandemic misinformation, as if we haven’t been doing this kind of advocacy from the start.” Within the thread, Hinz included multiple letters that had been addressed to the premier from the past year, asking for more stringent health policies when appropriate, which were signed by hundreds of doctors. Back in March 2020, we saw the writing on the wall and knew we needed more action from our political & business leaders. Our first open letter, signed by nearly 200 Drs, called for a move to encourage employees to work from home and businesses to move to a takeout/curbside model."