BANFF – A plan for a drive, walk and ride-thru COVID-19 testing site in the tourist town is on hold for now.
The municipality had been working with Bow Valley Primary Care Network, Bear Street Family Physicians office and provincial health authorities to have the rapid testing site up and running earlier this month.
However, Town of Banff officials say the initiative has been put on hold, primarily due to a province-wide increase in COVID-19 cases and a health authority decision to de-prioritize asymptomatic testing in the short-term.
“I believe that we do need one or could use one in our community, especially with the amount of visitation that we’re receiving and the amount of frontline workers that we have in our community,” said Silvio Adamo, Banff’s director of emergency management.
“We will continue to work cooperatively with the Primary Care Network and the regional medical office of health, and hope to get this important project moving again in the near future.”
According to the latest statistics provided by Alberta Health Services on Monday (July 27), Banff currently has six active COVID-19 cases. Eight patients have recovered during the pandemic.
There are currently 1,430 active cases in Alberta, including 91 new cases identified on July 26, another 103 reported on July 25 and an additional 110 cases confirmed on July 24. There are 88 people in hospital, 17 of whom are in intensive care.
Since July 23, eight new deaths were reported, bringing the number of people who have died from COVID-19 to 186 province-wide. In total, 8,774 Albertans have now recovered from the coronavirus.
Councillor Peter Poole voiced strong support for the drive-thru COVID-19 testing site, noting that he would be willing to work with his colleagues on council to write a letter of support to the province.
“I’m certainly in favour of a rapid local testing being available, particularly as we move into the school season,” he said.
Adamo said he’d welcome that.
“Any support that we can get to encourage the province to keep this momentum going on this project would be appreciated,” he said.
Adamo said the Town of Banff was also involved in planning sessions with Bow Valley Primary Care Network and provincial health authorities for a COVID-19 outbreak response plan.
“Due to our work with trying to establish that drive-thru testing facility, we are very much prepared to act quickly if the need arises and able to provide the other supports needed for this type of response,” he said.
Meanwhile, Adamo said residents seeking asymptomatic testing can call their local physician’s office, call the 811 Health Link phone number, or book a testing appointment online.
“They they will be queued and directed to the nearest asymptomatic testing facility,” he said.
Local doctors’ offices include: Banff’s Alpine Medical Clinic – open seven days a week – 403-762-3155; Banff’s Bear Street Family Physicians – open Monday to Friday – 403-762-4846.