New Brunswick communities fighting different COVID-19 battles despite proximity

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Neighbouring towns fighting different COVID battles
WATCH: Residents in and around Grand Falls woke up to loosened restrictions Friday, but the town’s mayor says they’re still too tight. Meanwhile Edmundston’s acting mayor says the mood there is starting to improve, despite a prolonged lockdown – Apr 16, 2021

The city of Edmundston is currently New Brunswick’s COVID-19 hot spot, with most of the province’s active cases in residents there.

The city and surrounding area have been on lockdown for about a week now, with chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell saying it will remain for at least another week.

Read more: New Brunswick says staff, families at Edmundston child-care centre advised to isolate

Despite seeing the toughest restrictions in the province’s playbook, acting mayor Eric Marquis says the mood among residents is improving.

“The fatigue is still there, that is no question, but the hope is starting to build up.”

He says spring weather and increased attention from the Department of Health have helped the region cope.

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At a provincial COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the area is vaccinated roughly 10 per cent more than the rest of the province.

That’s also when it was announced a region of Zone 4 to the south of Edmundston would ease restrictions.

As of Midnight Friday, the Grand Falls area returned to the province’s orange alert level after being red since March 29.

Still, that town’s mayor says frustration is growing there.

“We want to get to the yellow phase,” Mayor Marcel Deschenes says.

He says, to his knowledge, no one in town currently has COVID-19.

Read more: New Brunswick reports 8 new cases of COVID-19 as some parts move to orange level

While acknowledging the transmission risk of variants of concern and the fact that a few residents still commute to and from Edmundston, he says residents just want to get back to a more normal place.

“We’re all in this together but places that are better and don’t have any cases or some that do have cases are yellow. We just want to be yellow, too, so we can go on with it.

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“There comes a time you can’t just hold the people anymore,” says Deschenes.

He says he himself is getting frustrated.

Residents are asking him why the town is under tougher restrictions, but he says he doesn’t know.

“I’m to the point where right now that I tell the people, look, I’d like to give them a number where they could call and get the answers.”

Like Marquis in Edmundston, Deschenes says spring weather is giving residents a case of cabin fever.

He hopes they can loosen up into yellow soon.

Marquis hopes Edmundston might be in a position to step out of lockdown by next weekend.

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