Edmonton Notes for March 22, 2020

As of March 22 at 3:30pm, there are 259 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta including 60 here in Edmonton. That’s up from 56 provincial cases and 15 local cases just one week ago.

The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.

COVID-19 coverage from Taproot Edmonton

COVID-19 has been the focus for us this week as it has been for many of you. We’re continuing to curate and publish the news in our roundups, so that’s one way to keep up-to-date on the latest developments.

In the latest episode of Speaking Municipally, Troy and I discussed a number of COVID-19 topics. We recorded the show remotely, and are planning to do so again this week. Social distancing!

On Friday, Taproot launched a COVID-19 microsite. Our objective is to help the local community understand this complex and quickly evolving topic better. To do that, we’re taking a Q&A-style approach. Here’s what I wrote in a blog post about the site:

"We don’t intend to publish the news of the day nor are we trying to be the destination for breaking news. The mainstream newsrooms in our city have that covered, and we are grateful to those journalists for their hard work, much of which we are pointing to in our answers and in our roundups. Our contribution is to simply and succinctly deliver what our readers say they want to know."

Visit the site here, share your questions with us, and send us your constructive feedback. As the pandemic evolves, so will the microsite.

Presumptive COVID-19 case reported in Alberta
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • "An Edmonton man in his 60s has become Alberta’s first fatality in the coronavirus pandemic," reports CBC News. "As heartbreaking as this news is, it was expected. This is a dangerous virus," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday.
  • The City of Edmonton declared a state of local emergency early Friday evening, to help "expedite decision making and ensure City operational decisions are centralized, prioritized and coordinated." This is the first time a State of Local Emergency has been declared in Edmonton. At least 25 other local states of emergency have been declared in Alberta because of COVID-19.
  • Transit and parking are now free in Edmonton until further notice. Council made the decision on Friday to help minimize contact and increase social distancing. Earlier in the week, ETS moved to a reduced service (on the Saturday schedule) but had to add additional buses due to overcrowding.
  • All City Council and committee meetings have been suspended through April 27, with the exception of the meeting scheduled for March 30. All committees of Council, such as Youth Council and the Edmonton Design Committee, have been restricted from meeting in person until at least April 27, though they can still meet electronically.
  • The University of Alberta has eliminated 400 positions and could cut another 600 in the coming year due to provincial funding reductions. "Over the last four months we have received a reduction in government funding in the order of $110 million," said president David Turpin.
  • Bill Flanagan has been named the 14th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta, effective July 1, 2020. "Born and raised in Alberta, Bill Flanagan joins the University of Alberta from Queen’s University, where he served as the dean of law for 14 years from 2005 to 2019."
  • A campaign called #YEGTechCares has launched "asking volunteer participants to donate one hour’s wages a month to Edmonton’s Food Bank," reports the Edmonton Journal. "For the next three months, at least, participants will donate an hour of their salary to the Food Bank."
  • "Edmonton’s Belmont Sobeys is proving that positive thinking and good intentions can go a long way," reports the Edmonton Journal. The store has instituted an early morning opening to let seniors and vulnerable people shop for essentials during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "As a result of the initiative, Sobeys will introduce a seniors shopping hour at many of its nationwide locations for customers who require access to a clean, comfortable, stress-free shopping environment."
  • "Home price trends have ticked downwards in Calgary and Edmonton to start 2020 but have generally been stable since the beginning of last year," reports the Canadian Real Estate Association.
  • The Edmonton Police Foundation is gathering input on its next paid challenge which will be an app for first responders "that supports employees physically and mentally throughout their careers (and perhaps into retirement)."
  • "I think when the economy slows down as fast as it is, every business is going to be impacted by this," said Justin Archer, partner at advertising agency Berlin. "I don’t think government should spare any expense to make sure that, economically, there’s something to come back to."
  • The staff at United Sport & Cycle have "decided to simulate the remainder of the Oilers’ season on NHL ’20 – and livestream the games at the times they normally would’ve aired on Facebook," reports CTV News.
  • "Whether it’s a few weeks from now or a few months from now, we will get back to a normal," wrote Steven Sandor, editor of Avenue Edmonton. "And the kind of city we wake up to when this crisis comes to an end will depend on the actions we take now."
  • A little fun with a downtown landmark: "Self isolate, it’s the most Edmonton thing you can do."
  • 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 23-29)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

Gatherings with 50 or more people have been restricted in Alberta. Currently there are some exemptions, such as grocery stores and health care facilities. Restaurants and cafes are limited to 50% capacity to a maximum of 50 people – bars and nightclubs are prohibited.

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