BANFF – A COVID-19 walk, drive and bike-thru testing site is coming to the tourist town.
Officials with the Town of Banff say it is hoped the site – which is being talked about for the train station lands – will be up and running as early as July 21.
“We have been working with the Bear Street physicians and the Primary Care Network to establish a drive, walk and bike-thru COVID testing site in Banff,” said Silvio Adamo, the Town’s director of emergency management.
“We are planning on starting with one day a week with the possibility of expanding to two a week depending on uptake, and anticipate being able to conduct approximately 100 tests per day.”
Banff recorded two new positive cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. Since the pandemic hit Alberta in mid-March, five other people tested positive, but all patients recovered.
Councillor Chip Olver welcomed the news of a testing site, which has been talked about since the pandemic began.
“I just want to comment on how interesting it is to have a COVID assessment centre that you can drive, walk or bike through,” she said.
Adamo said the Town has been trying to get an assessment centre in Banff, working with Alberta Health Services, since the start of this pandemic.
“We really didn’t get anywhere. The focus was on the larger city centres,” he said “We’re very pleased now to be able to partner with the Primary Care Network and make this a reality.”
The municipality will help facilitate this testing site by using its municipal registration system.
“[There are] safeguards in place to ensure only the physicians’ office is able to view the registration and personal information,” Adamo said.
People can still book at the two clinics in Banff that have been offering free testing for the past months. People must call ahead to arrange testing.
Clinics available in the Bow Valley include:
* Banff’s Alpine Medical Clinic – open seven days a week – 403-762-3155
* Banff’s Bear St. Family Physicians – open Monday to Friday – 403-762-4846.
* Lake Louise Medical Clinic – open Monday to Friday – 403-522-2184
* Canmore’s Ridgeview Medical Centre – open seven days a week – 403-609-8333
* Canmore Associate Medical Clinic – open Monday to Friday – 403-678-5585
* Morley’s Stoney Health Services – open Monday to Friday – 403-881-3920
Meanwhile, Adamo said he is partnering in a planning session with the Primary Care Network and health authorities for a COVID-19 outbreak response plan for the Bow Valley.
“The first meeting will be next week and I obviously will have more information to share at the next COVID update,” he said.
With two new cases in Banff, Adamo said now is not the time to be complacent about COVID-19.
“With our visitation increasing as well as active cases in Alberta increasing to late May levels, we must all do our part to keep the spread of COVID-19 in check,” he said.
“I encourage all of us to wear a mask whenever we are in areas where keeping social distance may be challenging. This is a simple act of kindness all of us can do.”
The Town of Banff has delivered 36,000 masks to residents as part of a province-wide initiative, with an additional 72,000 masks due to go out to the community in the coming weeks.
In addition, the Alberta Emergency Management Agency provided another 100,000 masks for the municipality to hand out to tourists on the 100 and 200 blocks Banff Avenue in the downtown pedestrian zone.
On Monday (July 13), council voted to spend $53,000 to hire COVID-19 safety ambassadors to hand out these masks to visitors seven days a week now the that the downtown is getting busier.
“On Friday and Saturday, between noon and 6 p.m. each day, we gave out a total of 2,700 masks on Banff Avenue,” Adamo said.
The Town of Banff is also drafting a bylaw to mandate use of masks on the 100 and 200 blocks of the Banff pedestrian zone as well as publicly accessible places such as grocery stores, hotels and restaurants, for example.