Edmontonians asked to help as city sees ‘rapid and aggressive’ growth in 2nd COVID-19 wave

The City of Edmonton said it is currently considering what it can do within the municipality’s mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The city held an emergency advisory committee meeting Thursday morning, during which interim city manager Adam Laughlin provided an update on the city’s COVID-19 response. It comes just days after Alberta’s chief medical officer of health acknowledged the province is in a second wave of COVID-19.

Read more: Calgary, Edmonton police say more COVID-19 tickets likely after Dr. Hinshaw requests enforcement

Laughlin said Edmonton has seen “rapid and aggressive” growth in the number of cases over the past month and Edmontonians are at a “crucial crossroad” heading into the holidays.

While promising news has come out in the past week regarding coronavirus vaccines, Laughlin said now is the time for Edmontonians to redouble their efforts to bend the curve.

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“There is a light at the end of this tunnel but to get there we will experience some difficult weeks ahead,” Laughlin said.

“We could be facing additional restriction measures in the lead up to the holiday season and possibly beyond.”

Click to play video 'Hinshaw admits Alberta is in 2nd wave of COVID-19' Hinshaw admits Alberta is in 2nd wave of COVID-19

Hinshaw admits Alberta is in 2nd wave of COVID-19

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 4,157 active cases of COVID-19 in the Edmonton zone and 3,278 active cases in the city of Edmonton proper. Edmonton is currently on the province’s enhanced watch list, with an active case rate of 320.9 per 100,000 population.

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Laughlin said the city’s second wave escalation team is proactively working on protocols that could change with additional restrictions, should they come into place.

He noted the city of Edmonton remains on Level 2 of its second wave progression plan but Level 3 restrictions are being assessed.

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Courtesy, City of Edmonton
Courtesy, City of Edmonton. Courtesy, City of Edmonton

Currently, measures are in place in Edmonton — as well as all municipalities on the enhanced list — that prohibit indoor group fitness classes and team sports. Restaurants and pubs in these regions must also stop liquor sales by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. These measures went into effect on Nov. 13 and are currently scheduled to be in place until Nov. 27.

Read more: New restrictions announced for Alberta as 860 COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths reported Thursday

Laughlin said between Nov. 13 and 17, officials visited 783 Edmonton businesses where restrictions are in place and noted a 96 per cent compliance rate. Thirty-five violations regarding closing time, face coverings and physical distancing were found in these locations, and 58 warnings were issued.

Because health officials continue to stress that transmission is largely coming from group gatherings and within households, Laughlin said the city is working on promotional guidance on how Edmontonians can celebrate the upcoming holidays while avoiding gatherings.

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“This holiday season, Edmontonians may need a new approach and different options,” he said.

Update on temporary pandemic shelters for vulnerable Edmontonians

Laughlin also provided an update on the three temporary shelters that have been set up to provide emergency pandemic accommodations to vulnerable Edmontonians.

There are a total of 1,260 beds available at the Edmonton Convention Centre, Commonwealth Stadium at The Mustard Seed’s shelter in the Ritchie neighbourhood.

Read more: Camp Pekiwewin in Rossdale closed, police and city crews on site

Laughlin said the convention centre is operating at full capacity, Commonwealth has reached more than 80 per cent capacity overnight and the shelter in Ritchie has reached about 75 per cent capacity.

Laughlin also noted that the Boyle Street supervised consumption site is being relocated to the convention centre and will open on Friday.

City services, events

Laughlin said the Edmonton Transit Service continues to operate at full service and will continue to offer full service through the holidays, as a way to continue to encourage physical distancing on buses and trains.

Laughlin also noted this year’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks and family programming has been cancelled.

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City of Edmonton staff are also recommending an extension to the mandatory face coverings bylaw, which is set to go before city council on Friday.

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