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Residents of the isolated northern town of Lynn Lake knew that if COVID-19 hit their community, it would hit hard.

As cases spiked last week, sparking an 8 p.m. curfew order on top of code-red restrictions, residents say the community banded together to stay home, support each other, and weather the storm.

"The response has been great which is why you can see already that the cases are going down so fast," said Eugene Shin, owner of the Lynn Inn, in an interview Tuesday.

"From my perspective, people have been extremely cautious and very willing to follow the protocols that have been put in place. Everybody is wearing masks, everybody is sanitizing when they go into stores."

What began as a handful of COVID-19 cases last week, quickly spread throughout the community. By Saturday, there were 132 active cases and two people had died.

As of Monday that number had dropped, with the community's public bulletin reporting 86 active cases in the town of less than 700 residents. 

Audie Dulewich, the former mayor, said Tuesday the streets have been ghost-like in recent days as the community quickly adapted to pandemic protocols.

"(The virus) seemed to take off very quickly once it was noticed, and part of that is probably due to a certain amount of complacency just due to the fact that Lynn Lake hadn’t been affected by the virus until now," Dulewich said.

"It spread like wildfire immediately, and once people realized what was happening I think it kind of slowed, but it took that initial shock to find out that it was here to get people to start abiding by the rules a little better."

Shin attributed some of that rapid spread to the community's housing situation, a plight echoed by many northern towns that have faced COVID-19 spikes similar to Lynn Lake.

"There’s a pretty extreme communal living situation here in Lynn Lake: big families, small living quarters, multiple families in a house. I think it was a large part of the quick spread that happened," Shin said. 

Shin said the town's businesses and resource centres, like the school, fire hall, Friendship Centre and the town council, have all worked hard to contribute to each other's safety.

Food and mail are delivered to residents who are self-isolating and there's been an effort to give out hampers.

Shin said the Mounties are enforcing the curfew rules while nurses have been "very visible" around town providing support and ensuring residents are able to get tested for the virus and be monitored.

The curfew, which went into effect Friday, was largely embraced by community members who, Shin said, were already hunkering down.

Though residents may be anxious to get back to normal soon, and many miss visiting with friends and family, Dulewich said the community response has been rapid and united. 

"It’s kind of a rough patch here right now but I think we’re headed in the right direction," Dulewich said. 

"Hopefully, we get through it quickly and without any other fatalities." 

julia-simone.rutgers@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jsrutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers
Reporter

Julia-Simone Rutgers is a general-assignment reporter.

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