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Hinton’s official first case of COVID-19 related to travel

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Hinton learned about its first local case of COVID-19 this week from Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

The case in Hinton is believed to be related to travel at this time, stated Tom McMillan, communications assistant director of Alberta Health in an email.

While McMillan did not specify if the person was hospitalized or if there was any risk of spread from the case, Hinton Mayor Marcel Michaels did state in a Facebook update that the person is currently in self-isolation at home.

“We cannot provide other specific information due to patient confidentiality,” McMillan added.

Local Dr. Noel Corser stated that documented cases in Hinton lag behind actual cases by 1 to 3 weeks.

In other words, the numbers seen on the Alberta government website several weeks from now are the current number of infected Hintonites.

This is because the incubation period (from infection to symptoms) is two to 14 days, plus symptom to onset to swab is one to two days at the very best, and swab turn- around time is three to four days, which equals to anywhere between six to 20 days between infections and swab-positive numbers on the website, Corser explained.

“Now is the only time we have to reduce future cases, before we get
swamped.”

He also noted that if left to its own devices, Covid has a 30 to 70 per cent infectivity rate.

If 5000 Hintonites get infected and 20 per cent require hospitalization, of which up to a quarter need ICU, that is 1000 hospitalizations for a 21- bed hospital in Hinton.

“If that’s not a sobering thought, I’m not sure what is. People need to be aware that it’s critically important to get that infectivity rate down,” Corser said.

Premiere Jason Kenney announced on March 25 that law enforcement agencies have been granted full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines.

It is now mandatory for travellers returning from outside of Canada to self-isolate as well as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, and any individual with symptoms.

Community peace officers and police can now issue tickets to enforce COVID-19 public health orders from up to $100 per day to a prescribed fine of $1,000 per occurrence.

Courts will also have increased powers to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations.

On Monday, March 23, the Town of Hinton closed all community playgrounds and structures, but not the parks themselves.

The individuals using parks are still asked to continue to use physical distancing to inhibit potential spread.

School children in Hinton will have the opportunity to continue their studies.

The Alberta Government announced that school authorities will offer at-home learning opportunities for all Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Online tools or accommodations like course packages and telephone check-ins will be available to them.

Teachers will determine what content to cover based on remaining curricular outcomes and plan tasks that are reasonable to do from home.

The province also stated that school authorities will continue to be funded for the rest of the 2019/20 school year to help deliver at-home learning to their students.

Each student will get final grades and a report card appropriate to their grade level, according to the province.

Teachers will assess progress of students and assign a final grade.

Principals have the ability to award up to 15 credits to students in Grade 12 if they were negatively impacted by class cancellations.

At this point there has been no impact to essential or critical services from the municipality.

Some buildings are closed, and many municipal staff members continue to work in alternate capacities, stated an update from the town.

Waste, water, roads, maintenance, emergency and protective services are all continuing.

Rowan Street Recycling and the West Yellowhead Regional Landfill are still open.

Community Futures West Yellowhead is available to help and assist local businesses and self employed individuals wanting to learn more about employment insurance, records of employment, and other self employed matters.

Hinton’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) reminded residents last week that they can call or text 211 to speak with a person who can assist in finding a wide array of social supports and referrals.

Mental Health referrals and support to cope with the current situation is available in Hinton 24 hours per day throughout the week.

Further updates will be provided via web and Facebook from the Town of Hinton.

Contact Community Futures West Yellowhead at (780) 865-1224.

The Town of Hinton has an online directory with contact information for resources and businesses available to the public.