As of March 15 at 4:30pm, there are 56 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta including 15 here in Edmonton. The situation has changed dramatically in the last week and continues to evolve rapidly. The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province:
"It is crucial that we do everything possible to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19. The most effective way to do this is by taking a comprehensive, society-wide approach. Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not social distancing alone. All of them, together."
"The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene. This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately, and staying home and away from others if you are sick."
Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:
- City Council held an emergency meeting on Friday morning and decided to suspend all meetings until at least March 30. The next day the City of Edmonton announced it would close all City-operated recreation facilities and attractions. And earlier today (Sunday) the City of Edmonton reported its first employee case of COVID-19.
- Classes at all K-12 schools in Alberta are cancelled and child-care centres have been closed indefinitely, the Province announced today.
- Classes at the University of Alberta are moving to remote delivery for the remainder of the term starting Tuesday. MacEwan University is doing the same thing starting Thursday. At NorQuest College, classes have been cancelled. And at NAIT, all in-person classes have been cancelled.
- "Alberta Health Services has opened a new drive-thru clinic to test for COVID-19 in Edmonton," reports the Edmonton Journal. "Testing is provided by appointment only, and no walk-in visits are accepted."
- EPCOR has said it will work with customers on payment options as COVID-19 impacts Edmontonians financially. “We’re working to provide options and arrangements but people need to call in and kind of discuss that with us,” said spokesman Andrew Whitson.
- "The pause of NHL hockey, concerts and events at Rogers Place has hit everyone hard, but it has created an even more difficult situation for our nearly 1,650 part-time staff. As a result, we are rolling out an assistance program to ensure their well-being is protected," said Tom Anselmi, chief operating officer of the Oilers Entertainment Group. "All part-time staff affected by a temporary halt in our operations will receive financial payment to bridge them between their maximum EI benefits and their regular average earnings for remaining regular season games." The team faced criticism for its initial handling of the situation.
- According to OpenTable, reservations at Edmonton restaurants were down 23% on Thursday and 33% on Friday.
- "Spurred by concerns over COVID-19, shoppers filled Edmonton grocery stores Friday afternoon, loading up on non-perishable food items and paper products," reports the Edmonton Journal.
- "Four separate projects at the University of Alberta have been granted just over $2.4 million to research everything from early detection technology to the use of SARS medication to assist with the current global outbreak" of coronavirus, reports the Edmonton Journal.
- Of course we discussed COVID-19 on this week’s episode of Speaking Municipally. We also talked about speed limit reduction and regional transit.
- City Council voted 8-5 to lower the speed limit on all residential streets and main streets such as Jasper Avenue and Whyte Avenue to 40 km/h. The new speed is expected to be in place by mid-2021, reports CBC Edmonton. Councillor Andrew Knack had pushed for 30 km/h in the core. "At this point, there’s really no denying the fact that a 30 km/h speed limit is the right speed in terms of reducing injuries and death," he said.
- All 13 eligible municipalities have now voted on the Regional Transit Services Commission (RTSC) with only Strathcona County voting against participation. “The Commission makes good sense, and I’m looking forward to seeing this established for the benefit of every community involved,” said Councillor Michael Walters. A joint application is expected to be submitted to the Government of Alberta in May 2020.
- "The City of Edmonton posted a $20-million operating surplus in its 2019 budget, in part by holding off on filling vacant staff positions and spending less than expected on snow and ice control," reports CBC Edmonton.
- Jobber has been named one of the 10 most innovative enterprise companies of 2020 by Fast Company magazine. "This CRM startup has been transformative in how it empowers small home-service industries–such as your local plumber or electrician–to get the same access to enterprise tools as huge companies," they wrote. "We’re proud to be the first home service management software recognized as one of the world’s most innovative companies,” said Sam Pillar, CEO and co-founder of Jobber.
- "Edmonton’s transit service is ramping up efforts for women and girls to feel safe using the system as their go-to choice for getting around the city," reports the Edmonton Journal.
- TransEd says the Valley Line Southeast LRT will be running "as soon as possible in 2021" and gave reporters a first look inside two tunnels beneath Riverdale. “We are really proud of our progress. It’s a challenging job. It’s the biggest job that the city’s ever undertaken,” said Chris Gentile, Valley Line technical manager for the City of Edmonton.
- "Edmonton must grow in a dramatically different way than it did in its first 120 years, with significant ramifications for how residents live, move and work," writes Keith Gerein in a column on City Plan. "As aggressive and controversial as this strategy is, much of it is also necessary."
- Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) has been granted international accreditation for the third time, making it one of only nine agencies in Canada to receive this designation.
- City Council has approved a sliding scale for seniors transit passes. "Eligible seniors with yearly incomes between $28,513 and $32,400 will qualify for an annual seniors pass for $136.50, starting on March 30," reports Global News. That’s far less than the planned increase in the cost of an annual seniors pass to $374.
- "Tucked against a brick wall in a downtown parking lot, it could be mistaken for a mobile concession that sells hot dogs at baseball games," reports CBC Edmonton. It’s actually a ghost kitchen, a commercial kitchen that exists only to fill orders from food delivery apps. "Alberta Health Services spokesperson said in an email that the health authority has approved nine mobile and five permanent-structure ghost kitchens across Edmonton."
- Peggy Garritty, formerly ATB Financial’s chief reputation and brand officer, has been named the 22nd chancellor of the University of Alberta. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be chancellor of the University of Alberta, to be in a position where I can connect the university to the community and in turn, represent community views to the university,” said Garritty. Her four-year term begins June 18.
- Housing sales in the Edmonton CMA were up 8.3% in February compared to a year ago and up 32.29% over January 2020, according to the latest figures from the Realtors Association of Edmonton. “We typically see an increase in activity at this time of year as we head into spring,” said Jennifer Lucas, the organization’s chair.
- Get the latest on Media, Tech, Food, Health Innovation, the Region, Music, Arts, Business, and Council with Taproot Edmonton’s latest roundups.
Upcoming Events (March 16-22)
The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed, and those that haven’t probably should be. CBC Edmonton has an up-to-date list of all of the closures, cancellations, and other notices. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.
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