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COVID-19 outbreaks have been piling up in Regina and Saskatoon over the last two weeks, and workplaces are leading the pack in declared outbreak locations.

COVID-19 outbreaks have been piling up in Regina and Saskatoon over the last two weeks, and workplaces are leading the pack in declared outbreak locations.
According to provincial records, 27 of Regina’s 47 outbreaks between March 25 and April 8 57 per cent were declared in workplaces. 
This number excludes restaurants and childcare centres, but includes grocery stores, contracting businesses, retail and others. 
In Saskatoon, 17 of the city’s 22 declared outbreaks over the last two weeks  or 77 per cent  happened in workplaces.
Meanwhile, the Regina intensive care unit is operating over capacity and seeing younger patients than previously in the pandemic. 
As of Thursday, 206 people are in hospital in the province due to COVID-19, including 41 people in intensive care units.
And as a result, several health care professionals have called for a change in the province’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.
Some doctors have suggested that front-line workers like grocery store workers and childcare professionals be vaccinated sooner than their age might warrant.
Troy Verboom, CEO of Sherwood Co-op, says he agrees. 
“Our front-line workers should be not at the top of that vaccination list, but they should be getting close to being vaccinated soon because the age is coming down,” Verboom said. 
“We’ve got a lot of young people. We’ve got lots of people that are working for us after retirement in the regular job and wanted to do something … And those people would be older and are vaccinated now. But some of our younger people haven’t been.”
Verboom says the average age of workers at Sherwood Co-op is between 30 and 40 years of age. 
“I think we’ve done a really good job protecting shoppers along with the various protocols and whether it’s the Plexiglas shields or the one-way aisles or all of the sanitation and everything that’s taken place. But if we can get those front-line workers vaccinated, that’s just more protection for everybody.” 
Regina has had a rough April so far. Since the first of the month, the Queen City has had 22 provincially declared COVID-19 outbreaks  10 of which are in workplaces. 
Also, variant of concern cases  which are more infectious and can cause increased illness  continue to rise in Regina. Another 21 were recorded there from Wednesday to Thursday.
Premier Scott Moe said Wednesday morning that the province is actively assessing whether there are some larger worksites with up to 600 workers where vaccines could be administered. 
“Maybe we have some mobile capacity to address some of these folks,” Moe said, referring to clinics currently vaccinating people in group homes and shelters.
Moe added later in the day that “if that capacity was able to free up, we could then have that conversation. That point in time is not today. It’s not this week. And ultimately we will continue with the age-based criteria that we have.”  
The premier cautioned that there’s no “meat on the bones” of that idea and did not offer a specific timeline.
He told those listening during the oil and gas conference that a mobile clinic for worksites “is one thing we may consider in the coming days and weeks” as the province prioritizes “some of our larger group gatherings and setting aside the age limit just to focus some vaccines on those folks in this industry and other industries.”
Moe said vaccinating front-line workers would help Saskatchewan’s health system “lessen some of the risk” for young people contracting COVID-19 in the workplace and ending up in the hospital.
Moe’s comments on Wednesday echoed those he made the day before in which he stated that adding other groups to Saskatchewan’s vaccine priority list “will do nothing but slow down any vaccination plan, including ours in Saskatchewan.
“We are going to have a needle offered to everyone in this province by sometime in early June if we continue to receive vaccines from the federal government, which I think we will,” Moe said.