SUDBURY -- A Sudbury-based biostatistician says the COVID-19 positivity rate for people in Kashechewan is "incredibly" high, and getting vaccines into arms is the only way to deal with the crisis.

Ryan Imgrund, who analyzes COVID-19 data for the Ontario and Canadian governments, said a positivity rate of three per cent is alarming. In Kashechewan, it's about three times higher than that.

"So it's really, really high and just not a situation you want to be in," Imgrund said.

In raw numbers, he said the case count in the First Nation amounts to around 280 weekly cases per 100,000 people. By comparison, the positivity rate in Ontario when we went into lockdown was 80 per 100,000 people.

That's why getting everyone in the community of 1,800 vaccinated as soon as possible is key to getting the situation under control.

"We need to make sure that it's easy for people to get vaccinated as well," Imgrund said. "Sometimes, just increasing numbers is not a good strategy if you don't have a proper communication with that, as well."

One of the major issues in Kashechewan is that many young people aren't vaccinated, he said, and they make up the majority of the new cases.

"And that's why it's so important to make sure that we are immunizing the whole population," Imgrund said. "Even if we immunize around 80 per cent of the adult population, the fact that we do miss the under-12 population, you know, is concerning."

That has implications for the whole area, since the Porcupine Health Unit has not been able to enter the gradual reopening process taking place across Ontario.

"The case count is just out of control right now," he said.