What You Need to Know About COVID-19 In Alberta
As everyone is now aware, COVID-19 (2019 coronavirus/novel coronavirus) has now spread to Alberta. With 119 confirmed cases as of writing this article and much more to be on the rise soon, staying safe, healthy and informed are of the utmost priority. Though coronavirus is severely impacting businesses, healthcare and the public around the world, it’s important to stay up to date on what is currently closed and how to exist day to day whether in quarantine or not. Through this article, we will inform you of all the closures, updates, and news happening in Alberta due to COVID-19. If you haven’t already, check out our previous coronavirus article here for the most essential information on coronavirus regarding its history, who is at risk and safety precautions. Remember, though COVID-19 is serious, it is not a death sentence. Exercise caution and safety, not fear. As information is sure to change after this article’s posting, you can check the resources section at the bottom of this page for links to the latest information on COVID-19. If you have further questions that we did not cover, visit the Alberta Government website here.
As seniors and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk, Senior Homecare by Angels can help with your concerns. Our caregivers can provide transportation and delivery services whether it’s with groceries, prescriptions or other essentials. As staying at home is the best safety precaution you can take to avoid infection, having a caregiver to alleviate your worries can reduce your stress with COVID-19. Whether you are in St. Albert, Edmonton, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove or other surrounding communities, check out our companion care services here or other homecare services here if you require other care!
What is the Alberta Government Saying?
As of writing this article, the Alberta Government has officially declared a state of public health emergency. Though this may sound like a scary set of words, “public health emergency” is used to aggressively stop the spread of the virus. What exactly does this mean? Well, in terms of Alberta, declaring a public health emergency grants the government powers to close venues such as casinos, recreational centres, gyms and other high traffic (high spread) areas. All of which have currently been acted upon as casinos (Century Casino, Grand Villa), private recreational facilities (YMCA, GoodLife Fitness), city recreational facilities (Servus Place, Terwillegar Rec Centre), have all temporarily closed. Furthermore, a state of public health emergency can be exercised for 30 days but can be increased to 90 days in the event of a “pandemic influenza” (i.e. coronavirus as it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization 6 days ago). During this state, the government can also exercise other executive powers all of which can be described here. If the situation worsens, a provincial state of emergency could be called where government-sanctioned travel restrictions and price-fixing could come into play (last declared during 2016’s Fort McMurray fires). Currently, Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island have all declared a state of public health emergency due to COVID-19.
What are the Numbers in Alberta?
-Currently, 22 new cases have been confirmed in Alberta bringing the total number to 119 with 83 cases in Calgary and 27 in Edmonton. Currently, cases have been identified in all zones across the province.
-15,000 tests have been performed, 35 times higher than the per capita number of tests in the USA.
-For up to date numbers, visit the Government of Canada Website here.
What are the Restrictions?
Now that the province is in a state of emergency, the following measures have been declared. Though the government states it is not looking to enforce or sanction these measures, it is still expected that citizens, businesses, and officials follow these rules to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
-Limit gatherings and events to no more than 50 attendees. This includes places of worship (previously exempt), weddings, and funerals. This does not include essential services such as grocery stores, healthcare facilities, legislature, airports, and shopping centres.
-Limit the amount of time Albertans are in large crowds or crowded spaces. It is officially prohibited to visit public recreational facilities, entertainment centres (movie theatres), science centres (Telus World of Science), or casinos. Most of these venues are closed regardless.
-Restaurants, cafes, and food courts are now are under a maximum 50-person capacity. Though some restaurants are closed, their kitchen is still operational for delivery (via delivery service apps). Liquor can now also be delivered from these establishments (if they have an operational liquor license).
-Non-profit community kitchens/soup kitchens are currently exempt; however, increased hygiene and sanitization practices will be in place and supported.
-Albertans are prohibited from visiting bars and nightclubs, though, most of them are closed currently.
-Edmonton public schools, catholic schools, daycares, and post-secondary universities/colleges are all currently closed.
-Travel at this time is strongly discouraged and any traveler returning from outside the country should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor their symptoms for COVID-19.
-For non-essential travelers, Canada and the USA will be closing their shared borders. Though the flow of supplies and trade will not cease, travelers will no longer be able to cross the border for recreational or tourism purposes. However, Canadian citizens will be able to return home from their stay in the USA.
-Though on a case by case basis, pharmacies are only allowing certain prescriptions to be filled up to 30 days to avoid drug shortages.
What About Job Protection?
-Changes to the Employment Standards Code have been made to provide job protection for Albertans.
-Both Full and part-time employees can access 14-day job-protected leave for the means of self-isolation (retroactive to March 5th ).
-Both medical notes and 90-day work requirement is not needed for this effect to kick in.
-Furthermore, the government is accepting employment insurance to those who had to miss work due to COVID-19. More info can be found here.
-The federal government is also allocating funds to help businesses and citizens who are out of work cause of COVID-19. Though these are to be implemented in April, Canadian citizens can expect increased deadlines on filing taxes, government payment for lost wages, and reprieves on student loans. The full list is available here.
-Upcoming expiry dates for Alberta Driver’s Licenses, vehicle registrations, and other permits are being extended to May 15.
-Unsure if your expiry date is still valid? Check the company’s website/phone to confirm. Most companies are extending their services/renewal dates to accommodate.
How are Seniors Impacted?
-The Seniors Information Office on Jasper Avenue is closed. For seniors in need of information on financial assistance programs contact Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992.
-As of now, most senior facilities, recreational centres, and senior care facilities are currently closed and are reducing the number of visitors to each facility.
-The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee will be suspending in-person visits with clients and service providers. Alternative arrangements can be made via Skype, Phone and video conferencing. Click here for more information.
-As seniors are most at risk for COVID-19, certain grocery stores are offering a seniors shopping hour beginning on March 20th during the first hour the store is open (7 a.m.). This allows for a calmer environment to shop with extra help if needed. More information here.
-Still not confident to get groceries? Food delivery services are still operational whether you are ordering food from a restaurant, fast-food establishment or grocery store.
-Don’t forget Senior Homecare by Angels offers delivery and transportation. Just send out one of our caregivers to shop for you!
What is Being Done?
-$60 million dollars is being provided to help social services organizations respond to front line services.
-On the federal government side, $82 billion dollars is being allocated to help businesses and Canadians affected by COVID-19. Those out of work can expect employment insurance, and benefits that are due to roll out in April (this includes retroactive payment).
-The federal government is also allocating $58 billion dollars to Alberta health care to further the response to COVID-19.
-Certain pharmacies are allowing access to online doctors to screen for COVID-19. Check it out here.
-Drive through testing facilities, extra AHS staff, and 24-hour healthcare and consultation has been implemented for citizens.
What is the Risk?
As with most diseases, those who have compromised immune systems or are of older age are more at risk than those who are younger and deemed “healthy”. Though most of the population will recover if infected with COVID-19, those who are immunocompromised or are of older age may not share the same fate. For the latter who fall into this category, isolation, and applying standard hygiene practices are your best bet to staying safe.
What Should You Do?
With 119 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, most people are being asked to self-isolate (stay in their homes and avoid interacting with others). This is being done to stop the spread of the disease regardless if a citizen has it or not. This is because COVID-19 can spread quickly to another person regardless of the initial person showing symptoms for the virus. As the virus has an incubation of 14 days (the point at which an infection/symptoms would be present), those infected with COVID-19 may not permit signs of infection until much later in the cycle. Therefore, to avoid infecting others during this time, it is recommended to avoid mass gatherings and stay in your homes to better contain the virus. So far, Canada and Alberta have done a great job containing the virus as the total number of people infected is considered low (currently 736 people are infected out of ~38 million). Though not everyone has to/can self-isolate, be sure to practice social distancing (increase the space between yourself and others) and keep up standard hygiene practices (washing your hands, covering your cough). Keep in mind without these safety procedures in place, the spread can and will be a whole lot worse. As we have seen in Italy and China, without set standards and compliance by its citizens, the threat level increases. These standards are in place to keep the public safe, not incite panic or cause an unneeded burden.
Follow the news on the latest on COVID-19 and be sure to follow the government’s instructions. Don’t be one of those people that stock up on toilet paper or hand sanitizer, buy only essentials and non-perishables if needed. As a lot of stores do not have a lot of stock, public statements have come out promising more stock is on the way. Keep in mind, if you cannot find something in a store, look online. Most stores ship their products in 1-2 days and sell everything you can find in a grocery store. Don’t fall for price gouging or buying from a third party, be patient.
What Should You Do if You Feel Sick?
Unfortunately, a lot of the symptoms for COVID-19 are the same symptoms for the flu (i.e. dry cough, fever, extreme tiredness). However, if you do believe you came into contact with someone with COVID-19 or have traveled outside Canada, call 811 immediately. Luckily, the Alberta Government has been doing a great job of implementing increased effort for those with symptoms. If you are experiencing these symptoms or have difficulty breathing call 811 or take the COVID-19 assessment test here. If you can’t get through to 811, don’t worry, the COVID-19 assessment test will help you determine if you are likely to have COVID-19. The Alberta Government has increased its call staff to 6,000 receptionists so it should be much easier to get through to an Alberta Health Services (AHS) staff member. If you are asked to be tested for COVID-19, an AHS staff member will disclose to you the address of a COVID-19 testing facility. The locations of these facilities are currently only on a need to know basis as patients must be screened by AHS first before being allowed to test for COVID-19. Do not go to your doctor or any other healthcare office if you are feeling symptoms of COVID-19 or want to request testing. Follow instructions from AHS above all.
As Albertans, we strive to become stronger in the face of adversity. Whether it’s the Fort McMurray fire or the Black Friday Tornado, we always make it through the toughest times through community support, government backing, and resilience. Though this can be a scary time, all the right healthcare measures are in place to ensure the health and safety of Albertans are the highest priority.
What we are Doing at Senior Homecare by Angels
At Senior Homecare by Angels, we are upholding the proper safety and healthcare measures to keep you safe and free of infection. If you need transportation to doctor’s appointments we are there for you. If you are in isolation or not confident to leave your house, we can deliver groceries, prescriptions or other essentials! Even if you do not have a care staff in your home, we can still help you out remotely.
Feel free to ask any Senior Homecare by Angels caregiver for advice on how best to contact healthcare professionals about information regarding coronavirus.
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You can reach Senior Homecare by Angels here, or by phone at (780) 487-4256. We look forward to meeting you and your family to provide you with all the home care solutions you need!
Senior COVID-19 Resources
COVID-19 Info for Albertans
Government of Canada COVID-19 Info Sheet
Chat with a Doctor at a Pharmacy
Our Previous COVID-19 Article
Alberta Public Health Emergency
Alberta Government Payment Plans
Drive Through Testing
Map of COVID-19 Cases in Alberta
Senior Shopping Hours
Federal Government Packages
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