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COVID-19 public health crisis timeline – local, provincial and national headlines

A timeline of the COVID-19 public health crisis in local, provincial and national headlines
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Sunday, April 12

Another 82 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus are confirmed in Alberta for a total 1,651 cases so far. Four more deaths are reported, bringing the total fatalities related to COVID-19 to 44. That includes 20 residents of the McKenzie Town continuing care centre in Calgary. There are 44 people in hospital and of those, 14 are in intensive care units. It is now estimated that 237 cases are the result of community spread.

Canmore-based STEEDZ enduro mountain bike team launches its public education campaign to Chill the Shred. The campaign encourages mountain bikers to limit their activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Saturday, April 11

• Premier Jason Kenney says that rural areas may see restrictions related to COVID-19 lifted earlier than urban centres. “There's no reason why we should keep certain remote rural areas with little or no viral spread on the same lockdown as, let's say, parts of Calgary where we've seen a much higher level of infection,” Kenney said. “When we get into the relaunch phase, there's a good chance that we will start allowing businesses to reopen and amenities to reopen in many parts of rural Alberta first, because there is a lower risk of viral spread there.”

The premier also announced Alberta would send $41 million in personal protective equipment and medical supplies to other provinces to aid in their response to COVID-19. He said due to the modelling of the virus in Alberta and measures put in place to limit its spread, he is confident the surplus supplies – including N95 masks and ventilators – would not be needed by Albertans during the crisis. 

Canmore Fire-Rescue adjusts its staffing model to have another full-time firefighter available at the fire hall to respond to calls. The staffing model was a pilot program in summer 2019, and its intent was to reduce response times. Certain calls require four firefighters to respond, while normally the hall is staffed with two full time members. Canmore's firefighters also respond to 911 calls for EMS services when an Alberta Health Services ambulance is unavailable locally. 

Since Friday, another 69 Albertans were confirmed to have the virus and one more person has died as a result, bringing the total number of deaths to 40 in the province. A total of 1,569 people in Alberta have contracted the virus and 774 have recovered. There are 47 people in hospital and 13 in intensive care. 

Friday, April 10

Alberta records seven fatalities as a result of COVID-19, the highest number in a 24-hour period so far during the public health crisis and bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 39. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw also reports 49 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total to 1,500. Of those, 713 people have recovered. 

• As of April 10, the Bow Valley had 17 positive cases. In the Municipal District of Bighorn region, formerly known as the Canmore region, which includes Canmore and some MD hamlets, there were 14 positive cases – six active and eight recovered. The ID No. 9 region, formerly known as the Banff region, which includes Banff and Lake Louise had three positive cases – all active.

• As a result of outbreaks in long-term care facilities in Alberta and across Canada, new protocols for staff at these homes are announced. All staff must wear a mask when providing personal care and can only be employed at one facility during the pandemic. This is on top of restrictions on visitors at these facilities and hospitals across the province. 

Thursday, April 9

Premier Jason Kenney announces that he will double the capital infrastructure plan in the 2020-21 budget from $937 million to $1.9 billion. He says by accelerating the province's capital plan, it will help stimulate the economy and keep workers employed. 

While Canmore's elected officials planned on launching paid parking in June 2020, uncertainty with what the future will look like in the tourist town this summer has led council to consider delaying the program altogether. 

The Town of Banff announces it will establish check points at the entrances of the community from the Trans-Canada Highway over the Easter long weekend to educate the public on public health recommendations in relation to COVID-19. Bylaw peace officers, firefighters and RCMP officers will staff the check points and recommend anyone trying to visit the community return home. 

There are 28 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, according to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. There are 1,451 total confirmed cases and of these, 592 have recovered and 32 people died. At this time, it is believed 192 cases are the result of community transmission. 

• In the Bow Valley, the Municipal District of Bighorn region, formerly known as the Canmore region which includes Canmore and some of the MD hamlets, has 14 cases – nine active and five recovered. The ID No. 9 region, formerly known as the Banff region which includes Banff and Lake Louise has three positive cases – all active. 

COVID-19 testing protocols in Alberta are changed, with anyone experiencing symptoms in the Calgary health zone now allowed to access the test. As well, anyone who lives with a person over the age of 65 and is experiencing symptoms (cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath) can be tested for the virus. 

Wednesday, April 8

Premier Jason Kenney provides an hour-long presentation on the province's modelling for the virus, adding further details to the scenarios he outlined in his televised address the night before. One of the key statistics to track through the crisis, he says, is the admittance rate for hospitals and intensive care units because it will directly affect the health care system's capacity. Currently, he estimates as many as 800 people could be hospitalized.

• Alberta Health Services will have more than 2,200 acute care beds available by the end of April, and 1,100 intensive care unit beds, as well as more than 700 ventilators. AHS is also currently providing 1,500 tests for COVID-19 per 100,000 people with a goal of 20,000 tests per day. 

• Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announces changes to the testing protocol. As of today, she says anyone in the Calgary region experiencing symptoms can use the online assessment tool and receive a test for COVID-19. Any essential worker across the province experiencing symptoms may also access testing as a result of the changes. Visit alberta.ca/COVID19 to use the online COVID-19 self-assessment tool.

• Hinshaw says 50 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Alberta, bringing the provincial total to 1,423. A total of 29 people have died and 518 people have fully recovered.

• The Municipal District of Bighorn region, formerly known as the Canmore region, which includes Canmore and some MD hamlets has 14 cases recorded – nine active and five recovered. The ID No. 9 region, formerly known as the Banff region, which includes Banff and Lake Louise has three cases. All are active.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces changes to the wage subsidy program he announced less than two weeks prior. The subsidy, which sets out to provide 75 per cent of an employees wages, will require businesses to show a 15 per cent decline in revenues in March to qualify. Previously, Trudeau had stated workplaces had to demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in revenues. He also announced the government would cover 100 per cent of wages under the Canada Summer Jobs Program 

Tuesday, April 7

Premier Jason Kenney gives an evening televised address to Albertans where he discusses the public health response to the pandemic and its economic effect. He predicts unemployment rates of 25 per cent in the province as a result of the current economic crisis, compounded by a war on the price of oil by Russia and Saudi Arabia, which has resulted in significant de-valuation of Alberta's oil and gas industry. He says the provincial deficit could increase to $20 billion from the projected $7 billion.

• Kenney released the province's modelling for the virus. He says it is not a done deal, but said the most probably model predicts the peak of infections in mid-May, with as many as 800,000 infections occurring and between 400 and 3,100 deaths by the end of summer. The most serious scenario presented in the modelling shows a peak at the beginning of May, as many as one million infections and between 500 and 6,600 deaths could occur. If no precautions were taken at all, he says the model shows as many as 1.6 infections and 32,000 deaths in Alberta. 

The YWCA Banff makes changes, suspending hotel operations, and announcing it has isolation rooms available to those in the community who need the space, especially those who may currently be in shared accommodation situations. 

Canmore's two downtown churches, the Ralph Connor Memorial United Church and St. Michael's Anglican Church, ring their bells each day at 7 p.m. in support of the community and country's front line workers in this health care crisis. 

Additional restrictions are introduced for continuing care homes in Alberta to restrict visitors. Of the total cases in the province, 130 are in continuing care homes, and 12 of the 26 deaths have been residents at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary, at which at least 52 residents and 36 staff have COVID-19. 

• 1,373 Albertans have tested positive for the virus, 42 patients have been hospitalized and 26 have died.

Monday, April 6

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reports 98 new cases of the virus Monday (April 6), bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 1,348. Of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, 204 are suspected to be a result of community transmission. A total of 24 people have died and 361 people have fully recovered from the virus.

• A newly released map from Alberta Health Services, the Municipal District of Bighorn region, which includes Canmore and Exshaw, has 13 confirmed positive cases with nine active and four recovered. The Banff region has two positive cases recorded, both active.

• Testing protocols change to allow anyone 65 and older to receive a test if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. 

• Hinshaw and Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam both provided new guidance on wearing masks during the pandemic. They tell Canadians that masks could help prevent a person who has the virus from spreading it to others, however warned face masks are not an effective measure to prevent contracting the disease. Hand washing and physical distancing remain the greatest tools in the fight against the spread. 

• Canada and its provinces and territories continue to attempt to procure medical protective equipment, like masks and gloves, for health care workers on the front line of the crisis. Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his province only has enough personal protective equipment to last another week, while Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says this province should have enough to meet the predicted need.

3M announces it has reached an agreement with the White House to continue to supply Canada with N95 masks, after the U.S. government had previously directed the company to stop exporting the critical health care supply. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians can expect weeks or months of continued distancing measures. Across Canada, there are 16,500 total confirmed cases and 321 deaths. 

• Registration for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit opens online with 300,000 applications in the first few hours. Those who are financially affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis can apply to the 16-week program and receive $500 a week. 

Sunday, April 5

The number of suspected cases of community transmission in the province reaches 152, while three more Albertans die from the COVID-19 coronavirus, and 69 additional cases are confirmed. The total deaths reaches 23, and total confirmed cases 1,250. There are 48 people in hospital and 13 in intensive care.

• British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to a U.K. hospital for treatment of COVID-19.

Saturday, April 4

The total number of people with COVID-19 reaches 1,181 and the death toll reaches 20. There are two deaths reported and 106 new cases – of which 240 have recovered, 42 are in hospital and 14 in intensive care. 

Friday, April 3

• Alberta Health Services announces new restrictions on visitors at health care facilities. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says patients in hospitals across the province will no longer be allowed visitors. The precaution, she says, has exceptions but she adds: “We know there is community transmission happening, especially in our large centres. It becomes even more important that we are minimizing the chance someone may unwittingly bring in the virus to a hospital."

• Hinshaw says there are 107 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Alberta to 1,075. Of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, 137 are suspected to be a result of community transmission. A total of 18 people have died and 196 people have fully recovered from the virus.

• There are 10 COVID-19 cases reported in the Cochrane-Springbank region, 11 cases in the Canmore region and one case in the Banff region.

Thursday, April 2

The Banff Mineral Springs Hospital calls on the community to share its heart with residents of St. Martha's – its long-term care home. The sharing of community love each day is set for noon and 4:30-5:30 p.m.  

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announces additional protocols for long-term care facilities in the province. She said there are nine continuing care residences in the province with an outbreak of COVID-19. Of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, 74 are at continuing care facilities, 65 of which are at the McKenzie Town Continuing Care Centre in Calgary.

• There are 96 new cases of the virus, bringing the total to 986. Of those, 108 are suspected to be a result of community transmission, a total of 13 people have died and 174 have fully recovered. 

Wednesday, April 1

A Canmore family is decorating rocks and placing them around the community to bring joy to others during the COVID-19 public health crisis. 

Alberta announces it is waiting for delivery of rapid-testing devices to help in its response to COVID-19. A backlog in tests was created this week due to a shortage of a reagent, which has been rectified according to Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Based on the trajectory of new cases in the province and the number of patients currently in the hospital, he said Alberta Health Services is confident it has the personnel and resources to cope with the anticipated peak of the pandemic.

• There are 117 new cases, with a total of 871. Of those, 94 are suspected to be the result of community transmission, 11 people have died and 142 have fully recovered. 

Tuesday, March 31

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reports 64 new cases of COVID-19 in the province. The total number is now 754, of which 77 are health care workers. Hinshaw also details how changes to provincial testing protocols will provide a better understanding of how the virus is speading in Alberta. She also warns those experiencing symptoms they may not actually get tested for the virus, and the best thing they can do is self-isolate. 

Monday, March 30

 Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirms another five Albertans have died as a result of contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus. In addition, there are 29 new cases for a total of 690 – 65 are suspected to be from community transmission and 94 have fully recovered.

• Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the wage subsidy announced Friday (March 27). He says large, medium and small businesses qualify, as well as charities and non-profits that have lost 30 per cent of revenues as a result of the pandemic response. 

• The government of Alberta confirms a third death from the COVID-19 coronavirus, as well as 40 additional cases in the province. The total number of cases is 661, with 408 in the Calgary zone. Alberta Health Services geospatial data shows eight cases in the Canmore region and one in Banff. In total, 73 people have recovered from the virus. 

Saturday, March 28

• Alberta reports 79 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the province to 621. There are also 53 recovered cases and 20 in identified in staff and residents of long-term care communities. Of these COVID-19 cases seven are reported to be in the Canmore region and one is in Banff.

• Alberta's Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson confirms there have been no cases of the new coronavirus reported on reserves. Wilson commits to making every effort possible to help vulnerable populations through this crisis.

The provincial government announces it will cut funding to school boards for those services not being used during the COVID-19 pandemic. With students learning online and at home, the government states school division should have enough funding to meet those educational needs. 

Friday, March 27

• Premier Jason Kenney announces closure of all non-essential businesses. Grocery stores, pharmacies, delivery services and all other essential services can continue to operate. He also announced vehicle access is suspended for all provincial parks and recreation areas. All gatherings are limited to 15 people or fewer and two metres of distancing must be observed at all times. 

• The government announces protection for renters, with a prohibition on evictions and rent increases for the duration of the provincial state of public health emergency. 

• Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces a payroll subsidy of 75 per cent to small and medium-sized businesses across Canada to help keep them afloat during the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic response. Earlier in the week, the federal government announced a 10 per cent payroll subsidy. 

• The announcement by the feds includes the creation of a Canada Emergency Business Account through which banks can offer a $40,000 loan interest free for the first year and backed by the government. It announces a deferral of GST and HST payments, as well as duty and taxes on imports until June. 

Thursday, March 26 

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw warns Albertans of the challenges coming over the next several weeks in her daily briefing. She reports 67 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 486. Of these, 21 are in hospital, 10 are in intensive care units, and 27 had recovered. 

• Alberta Health Services geospatial data shows there are now five cases in the Canmore region. 

Wednesday, March 25  

The Town of Canmore declares a state of local emergency and makes the decision to close all playgrounds in the community 

New restrictions from Parks Canada come into effect closing vehicle access to national parks, heritage sites and marine conservation areas across the country, which means all parking lots, trails, washrooms, day-use facilities, showers, visitor centres, campgrounds, including backcountry camping, are closed to the public. 

Premier Jason Kenney announces legal action to enforce measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Community peace officers and police are granted the full authority to enforce public health orders, including the ability to issue fines – up to $100 a day to a prescribed fine of $1,000 per occurrence. 

• There are 61 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total number of cases to 419. It is suspected 33 of the reported cases have likely occurred through community transmission. 

Tuesday, March 24 

• A woman in her 80s who was a resident of the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary becomes the second COVID-19 coronavirus death in Alberta. The province's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the death appears to be a result of community transmission. 

• The province reports 57 new cases of the virus bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Alberta to 358. Of those who are confirmed to have COVID-19, 28 are suspected to be a result of community transmission, 19 are hospitalized, seven are in an intensive care unit and three are fully recovered. 

Canmore council votes unanimously to offer property tax and utlity rate payment deferrals for residents in the community over the next three months. 

Monday, March 23

Dr. Hinshaw announces changes to the assessment and testing for COVID-19. Until this point, testing had focused on returning travellers, but at this stage Hinshaw said it would be focused on high-risk groups, including health care providers and residents of seniors homes.  

• There are 42 new confirmed cases in the province, bringing the total to 301. Of those, 11 are suspected to be from community transmission, 18 are in hospital and seven in intensive care. 

Premier Jason Kenney announces the 3.4 per cent increase to the education requisition on property taxes across the province, which was approved in the UCP's budget earlier in the month, is to be scrapped. 

The Town of Canmore launches a call centre to help residents struggling. Staff are able to connect residents with resources and can be reached by phone at 403-678-1551 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. seven days a week, or by email at askus@canmore.ca.

Sunday, March 22

• After a weekend that saw increased visitation in provincial and national parks as Albertans try to get outside to recreate – Bow Valley mayors issue a plea for people to stay home and practise social distancing. Staff in Kananaskis Country also ask those who are recreating in parks to pack out any garbage or waste they generate as facilities –  including washrooms – in provincial parks are closed. 

• The total number of confirmed cases in Alberta is 259, with 33 new COVID-19 cases announced. 

Saturday, March 21

Friday, March 20

Alberta Education announces it has put together a plan to help students from kindergarten to Grade 12 finish the school year through online and distance learning. 

Roam Public Transit announces all routes would be fare free in order to reduce the interactions between drivers and passengers aboard its buses. 

Public safety specialists from Parks Canada and Alberta Parks urge those seeking out recreational opportunities in the backcountry to play it safe so as not to put added pressure on the health care system. 

Thursday, March 19

• The Banff Centre of Arts and Creativity announces it has laid off 400 staff as a result of the economic shutdown sweeping across the country in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. 

A man in his 60s becomes the first COVID-19 death in Alberta. Hinshaw says there are 27 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total number of diagnosed cases to 146.

Wednesday, March 18

Hinshaw announces 22 new cases in Alberta. Alberta Health Services enables geospatial data on its website to track the COVID-19 spread across the province. It confirms there is one case in the Canmore region. There are now 119 confirmed cases in the province. 

Tuesday, March 17  

• Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney declares a state of public health emergency.

• The Town of Banff declares state of local emergency

• The Stoney Nakoda First Nation declares local state of emergency.

• The MD of Bighorn cancels all official meetings for 30 days.

Hinshaw confirms 23 new cases of COVID-19, 97 total across the province. 

Parks Canada announces it will suspend all visitor services in national parks across the country, including Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks. 

Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Ski Resort announce they will shut down operations to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Monday, March 16 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asks all Canadians travelling or living abroad to return home and announces the country's borders will be closed to international travellers. There are exceptions for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members and U.S. citizens. 

There are now 74 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, an increase of 18 from the day before, with 52 in the Calgary health care zone. Dr. Hinshaw states the level of risk to contract the virus has increased from low, to low-medium to high. 

The Town of Banff announces closures for the Fenlands rec centre and its facility at 101 Bear St., which includes the public library. 

The Town of Canmore announces closures for Elevation Place and the Rec Centre

By Monday, Nakiska and Norquay have announced they have closed their ski hills. In addition, all services and facilities at the Canmore Nordic Centre are closed, however, the public is still able to access trails. 

Sunday, March 15

• The province of Alberta announces it will suspend classes at all schools across the province, as well as issue an order for all daycares to close. The announcement allows schools to remain open so teachers and administration could continue to work on continuity plans for education. 

Friday, March 13  

• The Town of Canmore actives its emergency coordination centre while the Canadian Rockies Public Schools suspends use of its facilities by community groups. 

The Town of Banff activates its emergency coordination plan and partially establishes its emergency coordination centre.

The province of Alberta announces a new online assessment tool will be available for Albertans to determine who will be tested for COVID-19. 

There are six new cases of COVID-19 and Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says at this time there are no plans to close schools or cancel classes for kindergarten-Grade 12 and post-secondary students across the province. Organizers of events of more than 50 attendees that expects international participants, or involves critical infrastructure staff, seniors or other high risk populations, are asked to cancel. 

Thursday, March 12

The NHL suspends its professional hockey season in response to the public health risk presented by COVID-19. 

• The Juno awards set to take place on March 15 in Saskatoon are cancelled. 

Organizers of the 2020 COOP FIS Cross-Country World Cup announce all events at the Canmore Nordic Centre from March 19-22 are cancelled. 

Starting today, anyone returning to Alberta from international travel is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Organizers of events of more than 250 people, or that involve international travellers, are asked to cancel.

Canmore's popular Food and Friends Monday night community dinner announces it will move to takeout meals to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. 

Wednesday, March 11

• The NBA suspends its professional basketball season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert contracted COVID-19. 

Five new cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in Alberta, bringing the total to 19. 

The World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 novel coronavirus a pandemic and says it is not too late for countries to take action to manage the rate at which the infectious disease spreads. 

Tuesday, March 10

There are now 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, doubling overnight from the seven cases reported Monday (March 9). 

Thursday, March 5  

• The first case of COVID-19 coronavirus in Alberta is confirmed in the Calgary Health Region. 

 

Follow RMOToday.com's COVID-19 special section for the latest local and national news on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as resources, FAQs and more.




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