Message from Denise Christopherson, CEO of YWCA Hamilton, on the new Omicron variant of concern

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We had all hoped that the worst waves of the Covid-19 pandemic were already behind us.  However, as we all know, Covid-19 is the ultimate disruptor. Once again, we find ourselves facing rising uncertainty and anxiety, this time related to the newest variant of concern, Omicron.

There is still much we don’t know about the Omicron variant – however, we do know that it spreads much more rapidly than previous iterations of the virus. The sudden and intensifying spike in case numbers we’ve seen in only a few short days means we once again need to regroup, reassess, and pivot.

To protect the safety of our staff, our community, and those we serve, YWCA Hamilton is pausing all non-essential in-person services, training, and programming, where possible, and shifting our focus back to virtual service offerings until January 14th with a plan to reassess future planning the week of January 10th. All staff who are able to work from home will continue to do so.

In-person programming will be restricted to essential services only, with the goal of reducing potential transmissions. We remain grateful to our frontline staff for their continued dedication to those we serve as they continue to work in-person.

As you know, vaccinations are the among very best ways to protect, our families, those most vulnerable, and our community at large.  The province recently announced that everyone over the age of 18 can start to book their booster shots as on Monday, December 20, and we are strongly encouraging our staff and the community at large to take advantage of this opportunity as soon as you can.

If there is a silver lining to this situation, it’s that we know what can stop the spread of this virus – masking, distancing, handwashing, limiting our gatherings, and getting vaccinated. Over the holidays, please be cautious as you gather with friends and family. The province has announced that free rapid tests will soon be available in LCBO stores across the province, and I urge you to take advantage of those tests to ensure that you and your family aren’t unknowingly spreading the virus as you visit with friends and family over the holidays.

I know that it’s difficult and disheartening to continue to take these measures, especially when we all were starting to enjoy some normalcy once again. However, we have fought through waves of this virus before, and we’ll do it again.

The pandemic has taught us that we are stronger when we work together. If we band together as a community, we can once again help protect our most vulnerable. We can, and will, get through this.

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