BANFF – Three active COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Banff and another four in Canmore – including one staff member at a local grocery store.
That’s according to the latest COVID-19 statistics released by the Alberta government on Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 13), at which time there were 2,615 active cases province-wide.
“This should remind us all that following all health recommendations is imperative if we are to get through this pandemic as quickly as possible with the least negative impacts to our community,” said Silvio Adamo, the Town of Banff’s director of emergency management.
According to the province, 263 new cases were identified in Alberta on Oct. 9; 259 new cases on Oct. 10; 236 new cases on Oct. 11 and 220 over the previous 24 hours. As of Oct. 13, 97 people were in hospital due to the virus, including 13 in intensive care.
On Saturday (Oct. 10), Sobeys Canada reported a case of COVID-19 at the Canmore Safeway. According to the company's website, the staff member has not been in the store since Oct. 2.
Banff Councillor Chip Olver expressed concern about the increasing numbers across the province, as well as the new cases in Banff, which has had no cases since mid-July.
“We were leaders in masks in indoor public spaces and we were definitely vanguards of masks in our outdoor pedestrian mall,” she said during council’s Oct. 13 meeting.
“Is there more we can do? If we were to ask for masks everywhere in town where you can’t maintain six feet distance … I’m asking for ideas.”
Adamo said it is inevitable there will be more COVID-19 cases, but stressed the importance of residents and visitors following all the rules, including maintaining physical distancing of six feet
“We’re never going to be able to stop it completely; that has been made clear to us over the last six months provincially, locally, globally,” he said.
“We’re starting to see what some are suggesting is a second wave, and so we do need to minimize our exposure and we need to protect our vulnerable,” he added.
“We do need to accept the fact, I believe, that we are going to see more cases in the province as well as in our community, and that is inevitable unfortunately.”
The MD of Bighorn is reporting four cases of COVID-19, according to the province's statistics. There are also cases of COVID-19 the Stoney Nakoda First Nation is dealing with at Morley Community School and Nakoda Elementary School.
Positive cases in the community resulted in the decision by the Stoney Education Authority (SEA) to close the schools last week. On Tuesday, the SEA announced schools would remain closed to in-class learning this week as well.
"This has been determined in consultation and collaboration with Stoney Nakoda Leadership; Stoney Health Services; Nakoda Emergency Management; and Stoney Education Authority," wrote Superintendent Bill Shade on the SEA website.
As of today, October 13th, for this week in Morley, AB for Morley Community School and Nakoda Elementary School. Please read and share. Isniyes www.stoneyeducation.caPosted by Nakoda Emergency Management on Tuesday, October 13, 2020
In Banff, COVID testing is available at Alpine Medical Clinic and Bear Street Physicians. Asymptomatic testing is available by appointment only at the IDA- Rx Drug Mart in the Cascade Plaza.
“In conversations with doctors’ offices and the Primary Care Network, demand is currently being met for local testing,” said Adamo.
“We are also working with Alpine Medical Clinic and its landlord to increase space, accessibility and capacity for testing in that location.”.
The Town of Banff is in touch with Bow Valley Primary Care Network regularly so that the municipality is in a position to react quickly should a COVID-19 outbreak occur in the valley.
Adamo said Banff came very close to opening a drive-thru testing facility at the Banff train station, thanks to Liricon Capital which offered the space, and noted the groundwork for such a facility, if needed, has been laid.
“There’s a plan in place,” he said.
"If an outbreak is identified by the health authority within our valley, then that group (Bow Valley Primary Care Network) would react and be able to meet hopefully the testing demand for the outbreak.”
Adamo said there is a plan for more education campaigns to engage the public to “do the right thing.”
“We’re going to do more information campaigns on those areas where we’re seeing the largest growth in numbers – and that’s in the social gathering settings and in demographics of 20 to 50 years old,” he said.
In terms of contact tracing, council decided to lobby the appropriate authorities to get the national app working in Alberta.
“We have a provincial app that hasn’t been very well received due to some glitches … and we have a national app that is not functional within our province to date,” said Adamo.
“From a political perspective, a council perspective, perhaps we can have assistance with having council push at the political level to get that national contact app in place in the province.”
Meanwhile, Banff firefighters have been handing out masks on Banff Avenue over the past two weekends.
“We are seeing very good compliance and we will continue to monitor the need for this program,” said Adamo.
“Obviously it’s dependent on visitation numbers and public behaviour we’re seeing on our streets.”