Local Journalism Initiative
Hinton now has three cases of COVID-19 as formally announced by the provincial government this week, but specifics on cases are not being released due to patient confidentiality.
Tom McMillan, communications assistant director with Alberta Health, said Alberta Health Services (AHS) takes immediate action with each case to isolate the individual and identify anyone who may be at risk of exposure.
All close contacts at risk of catching COVID-19 are directly contacted and asked to self-isolate.
“This is the best way to protect anyone at risk and limit the spread. Anyone who has not been contacted is not considered to be at risk,” McMillan stated.
McMillan urges people to stay home when sick and practice social distancing and regular hand washing along with all the other health measures put in place.
On April 1, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced a jump of 117 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, attributing that jump to a backlog of COVID-19 tests getting processed in the 24 hours leading up to the update.
That backlog had developed because of a temporary shortage in reagents, an essential element for testing, said Premier Jason Kenney.
AHS processed more than 4,500 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours, with around 98 per cent coming back negative. To date, the province has completed more than 50,000 tests.
As of April 1, there are 871 cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 62 hospitalizations, 11 deaths, and 142 recoveries. AHS is partnering with a Canadian technology company to provide rapid testing for COVID-19 for Alberta.
Spartan Bioscience is also developing a COVID-19 test kit that would allow AHS lab workers to test for suspected COVID-19 in rural communities, rather than needing to send test samples to the two centralized laboratories in Edmonton and Calgary.
The province also proposed three key pieces of legislation to protect Albertans on March 31.
Two bills, if passed, will bring into force the public health enforcement activities and rental protections announced by Premier Jason Kenney on March 27. The two proposed bills meant to support and protect Albertans during COVID-19 are Bill 10, Public Health (Emergency Powers) Amendment Act, 2020, and Bill 11, Tenancies Statutes (Emergency Provisions) Amendment Act, 2020.
Bill 10 will provide law enforcement agencies full authority to enforce public health orders during a pandemic, while Bill 11 will ensure no one will be retroactively charged for residential rent increases or late fees while the state of public health emergency is in effect.
An additional bill is proposed to support economic activity in the energy sector in light of job losses due to COVID-19 and the recent oil price wars. Bill 12, Liabilities Management Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 would enable the government to clarify and enable expanded, delegated authority for the Orphan Well Association to maintain and manage orphan sites.
“The last measure is a critical part of our efforts to keep as many Albertans as possible working and our economy moving as we face a double whammy of the global recession and the collapse of energy prices,” Premier Kenney said.
Emergency isolation supports are available for Albertans who are self-isolating or who are the sole caregivers for someone in self-isolation, with no other source of income.
Applicants can view eligibility criteria and apply at alberta.ca.
Access to MyAlberta Digital ID (MADI) and the emergency isolation support is periodically closed to manage the flow of applications.
This is a temporary program to bridge the gap until the Federal Emergency Care Benefit is available with no formal deadline.
The Town of Hinton closed all community playgrounds and structures on March 23.
While the parks themselves are not closed, individuals using these areas in town are asked to continue to use physical distancing to inhibit potential spread of COVID-19.
All Town recreation, FCSS, and other programming registration is postponed until further notice.
The Town will not be accepting deposits or providing firm confirmation on bookings and rentals until opening dates are determined and announced.
While federal rules banned any domestic air or train travel for those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 earlier this week, bus services are a provincial matter and Hinton already imposed the same restriction on municipal transit services.
Violators of provincial restrictions will be subject to penalties introduced last week, enforceable by Peace Officers and RCMP.
These restrictions include mass gatherings reduced to no more than 15 people, closure of non-essential businesses (see more about essential businesses on Page 5), closure of Alberta Parks and public lands to vehicle access, no evictions due to failure to pay rent as of April 1, suspension of rent increases, and postponing of some non-urgent diagnostic imaging procedures and non-essential/routine lab work by AHS.
Town administration is working on arranging a special meeting of Council on April 7, said Peter Vana, Hinton’s interim CAO.
No time or agenda has been confirmed for this meeting, however, a Facebook post by Mayor Marcel Michaels did indicate that the purpose is to discuss property taxes, utilities, and other things that are affecting residents during this pandemic.
Both Vana and Michaels stated an agenda with more information should be available to the public on Friday, April 3.