***This story will be continually updated as news becomes available***
“The federal government announced it was upping its proposed wage subsidy for businesses to 75 per cent. A broad swath of business and labour groups had criticized the original proposal of a 10 per cent subsidy for falling well short of what was needed to avoid mass layoffs.”
“A large one-day jump of 61 COVID-19 cases has prompted the provincial government to enact new penalties for people who don’t comply with precautionary rules.”
“According to the provincial map that tracks COVID-19 cases, there are now 14 confirmed viral cases in Red Deer. Nine are in the east, four in the southwest and one in the north.
As well, there are two cases in Red Deer County, two viral cases in Lacombe, and one case each in Innisfail and Olds as part of 28 in total in the central health zone.”
“The Canadian government is investing $192 million in finding a vaccine and treatment methods for COVID-19.”
“Alberta is beginning measures to help people stay financially afloat during the COVID-19 crisis, including $50 million right away for those self-isolating.
Premier Jason Kenney says the money equals $573 per week for each person who meets the criteria for self-isolation, and is meant to be a bridge equivalent to an employment insurance payment until new federal aid begins April 1.”
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will spend up to $82 billion on measures to support the Canadian economy through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money will come through a combination of direct supports for workers and businesses and tax deferrals.”
“Alberta is declaring a state of public emergency in reaction to the novel coronavirus.
Premier Jason Kenney has announced that any gathering larger than 50 people — including weddings and funerals — must be cancelled.
Public recreation facilities, casinos, bingo halls, bars, museums and art galleries will also be shuttered if not already.
Worship services and conferences also fall under the 50-person rule.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will close its border to all who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents to slow spread of COVID-19.
The Prime Minister said citizens of U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, as well as commerce, trade will be allowed in and out of the country. (this has since been expanded to include non-essential US travel)
From alberta.ca/COVID-19, last updated at 5 p.m. on March 15:
Effective immediately: Student attendance at K to 12 schools is prohibited and in-person post-secondary classes are cancelled.
All licensed child care facilities, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs are closed indefinitely.
If you have flu-like symptoms
Mainstreet Medical Services in Lacombe recently released this notice on their Facebook page:
“As a clinic we desire to take precaution in minimizing the exposure of the COVID-19 to our patients and health care team. Thus, if you have traveled outside of Canada recently or have been in contact with anyone who has the potential to be at risk for the COVID-19 we are asking you to call our offices and cancel your appointment. If you have recently traveled out of the country and you have fever, cough or difficulty breathing, please call Health Link 811 for assessment. Please help us reduce the risk of spreading illness, including COVID-19.”
If you recently returned from travel outside Canada or have symptoms – cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing:
- Stay home – do not go to an ER or clinic
- Take the COVID-19 self-assessment test. You can follow links at alberta.ca/covid-19
- Call Health Link 811 for testing and instruction.
How serious is it?
The current risk level in Alberta is considered to be low.
According to alberta.ca, risk is determined by assessing how likely Albertans are to be exposed to the virus in the province. While the worldwide risk is rising, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Alberta is still low. The risk level will be adjusted if this changes in the coming weeks.
In this article, the Lacombe Express will keep an updated list on the current local impact, such as cancelled community events and precautions being taken, as well as the latest information from the province. Check back often for updates.
Places of worship are no longer exempt from the recommended restrictions on mass gatherings. Public health officials continue to recommend that all mass gatherings of 50 people or more are cancelled, and this now includes worship gatherings.
Risk mitigation must be in place, such as enforcing distancing of one to two metres between attendees and using sanitizer stations.
Seniors facilities limiting visitation
Seniors facilities are receiving social isolation and distancing information, and stronger restrictions are being put in place for visitors to long-term and seniors care facilities. Essential visitors will be restricted to a single individual who can be family, a friend, or a paid companion who provides care and companionship necessary for the well-being of the resident (physical and mental health) and/or a single designated visitor for a person who is dying, as long as only one visitor enters the facility at a time. Every visitor will undergo a health screening.
Recommended travel advice
Travel outside of the country is not being recommended at this time. Given the rapid global spread of the virus, it is no longer possible to assess health risks for the duration of the trip.
Any traveller returning from outside of the country should self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are feeling well, and monitor for symptoms.
Any traveller who has returned before March 12 should closely monitor themselves for symptoms. If they experience symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and call Health Link 811 for follow-up assessment and testing.
Local impact/precautions being taken in Lacombe and area
-The City of Lacombe announced on March 16 they will be closing all municipal facilities to the public:
“PUBLIC NOTICE: In light of the Government of Alberta’s updated response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the City of Lacombe has made the difficult decision to close all municipal facilities to the public, pending further notice.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work together to ensure the safety of staff and residents.”
–Lacombe and District FCSS released this statement regarding their decision to discontinue most services and only operate essential services until further notice:
“The decision was not taken lightly; however the health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance,” said FCSS Director Susan MacDonald. “I realize this is a very stressful time for all of us, especially our seniors and those with limited resources and supports.”
“In response to the Province of Alberta’s update to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Blackfalds is closing all Town facilities effective Monday March 16, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. until April 15, 2020.
This includes the Abbey Centre (Field House, Fitness Studios, Program Room, Child Minding, Border Paving Fitness Centre, Red Deer Kinsmen Indoor Play Space, Running Track, etc.), Blackfalds Public Library, the Civic Cultural Centre, Multi-Plex Arena (Ag Room, Banquet Room, Dry Floor/Ice), Transfer Station, Operations Centre, the Wadey Centre and the Community Centre (Main Hall and Multi-Purpose Room).”
“As of Wednesday, March 25 the Lacombe County administration building and shops will be open by appointment only.”
“Returning to school after spring break is set to look very different for Wolf Creek Public Schools this year. On March 30 a Wolf Creek Learning Support Plan will be provided to school administrators and teachers.”
-Wolf Creek Public Schools released this statement on their Facebook following the announcement of school cancellations:
“The Alberta Government ordered the immediate cancellation of all Kindergarten to Grade 12 classes in the province, to limit the spread of COVID-19. This cancellation also applies to all schools in Wolf Creek Public Schools.
To be clear, this order means all students are to remain home from school indefinitely, effective immediately.
Additionally, lease do not attend schools to pick up books, personal belongings or resources for your children. We will be providing updates when that process will be available.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”
Additionally, as of March 12, Wolf Creek Public Schools has added a new webpage with information and procedures regarding COVID-19 for families and staff. The webpage will be updated as information is updated, and can be accessed at: www.wolfcreek.ab.ca/covid-19-faqs-for-families-and-staff.
-The Books & Bevvies Fundraiser in support of the Mary C. Moore Public Library on April 4th has been postponed.
-Friends of Guatemala will no longer be holding their event with Erica Henderson on March 30 St. Andrew’s Church
-St. Stephen’s Catholic Church and The Lacombe Knights of Columbus have cancelled their Friday Fish Fry’s due to the growing concern regarding the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) across our province. They stated their “hearts go out to all who have been affected”. The Fish Fry’s will will resume if/when AHS removes the suggestion for large gatherings.
-The Alix Wagon Wheel Museum has cancelled their Garden talk scheduled for April 1 until further notice.
-The Mary C. Moore Public Library is closed with no programs. If you require library items you must email firstname.lastname@example.org or message them on Facebook. They will get your account setup for home delivery via Canada Post.
-Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project Celebration scheduled for April 3 at Lincoln Hall has been cancelled
-The Burman University Herr Lecture Series scheduled for April 2 with Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell on Climate Change & Global Security at the Lacombe Memorial Centre has been cancelled.
-Burman University classes all moved online as of March 12 and students living in dorms are required to return to their permanent residence as of March 22. Burman University set up a COVID-19 website at https://www.burmanu.ca/virus
-Cilantro and Chive recently made this post on their social media announcing the closure of their entire restaurant:
“Social Distancing” and “Flatten the Curve” are more than buzz words of 2020. We must act and we must act now if we are to get through this together. With this in mind we will be closing our doors effective immediately.”
-Ugly’s Pug and Grill recently announced their closure on Facebook:
“As a small business owner I have had to make a very tough decision, I will be closing the doors at Uglys Pub and Grill at 4:00 p.m. today until further notice. I have put a lot of thought into making this decision and for the safety of our friends, family and community it is what is best.”
-Cow Patti Theatre Company announced the closure of their latest show Lunenberg on March 17:
“With our Prime Ministers announcement this morning in regards to gatherings of 50 or less and his call for people to stay home, we have decided to close the show Lunnenburg as of tonight March 17.
Anyone with bookings from March 18 till April 5 please do not contact the Box Office, we will be in contact with you.
The Theatre is a place that tells stories regarding the human condition and especially now – our concern is to have compassion and do our part to keep our community safe.
We look forward to bringing you all joy and laughter next season.”
The Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce released this announcement:
“The Board of the Lacombe & District Chamber of Commerce has made the decision to cancel this year’s Spring Trade Show and marketplace, originally scheduled for April 24/25. This decision comes after provincial recommendations that events with more than 250 people be cancelled, and the general recommendations for social distancing.”
The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene.
This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately, and staying home and away from others if you are sick.