Steinbach dealing with some of the highest COVID rates in Canada

WINNIPEG — As the province prepares for lockdown, some Manitoba communities are facing a steeper climb than others to flatten the curve.

The City of Steinbach, which has a population of around 21,000, has one of the highest infection rates in the country.

“Steinbach accounts for about ten per cent of the Southern Health Region and about a third of active cases (in that region) right now,” said EPI research epidemiologist Cynthia Carr.

The province announced 101 new COVID cases in Southern Health Wednesday. There are 678 active cases in the region.

According to Carr, Steinbach has around 1,000 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

She says that number is twice as high as Winnipeg and ten times the national average.

On the eve of the lockdown, quiet had already set in along Main Street.

“They probably should have done this shutdown sooner,” Steinbach resident Paul Snider told CTV News Wednesday.

‘A WINNIPEG PROBLEM’

“I think the gatherings got out of hand,” said owner of the Steinbach restaurant Bigg Smoak BBQ Brigitte Turner. “That’s where we needed to see tighter restrictions.”

Turner said COVID-19 complacency is partly to blame for the rising caseload.

In her view, some people may have considered the spiking numbers to be “a Winnipeg problem. That’s city stuff,” said Turner. “We are a big city. We’re such a hub for so many surrounding communities.”

While Turner can stay open for takeout and delivery, Steinbach retailers like the Scrapbook Cottage must shut their doors.

“Here we are right in the thick of Christmas season and we’re mandated to close,” owner Sharon Reimer told CTV News Wednesday.

Reimer is moving to online sales and curbside delivery, but she’ll have to let go of most of her staff at her Steinbach and Winnipeg locations.

“I have 12 girls employed at both locations. I’ll be able to keep maybe one.”

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