The Chestermere Emergency Management Agency is continuing to monitor all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and advise the emergency management committee of council regularly.
The City of Chestermere declared a state of local emergency on March 17 and placed a variety of public orders impacting business, public places, outdoor recreation facilities, and events, recreation and activities. The state of local emergency was lifted on June 15, and the Emergency Command Centre (ECC) was closed on June 26.
“The number of orders and the amendments of orders is all about creating partnerships with the community to try and keep them safe during the course of the pandemic,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and CHEMA Director Bernie Morton.
“There are costs to running the ECC. It’s a very intense operation, but we are under the allotment in terms of funding,” Morton said.
Grant revenue for 2020 was estimated to be roughly $1.54 million, which was being offered to the municipality to try and offset the cost related to the pandemic.
“We would include the cost of the ECC in that amount, so the taxpayers are not going to have to foot the bill in this stage of the operation,” Morton said.
At the time of Morton’s Committee of the Whole Meeting presentation on Nov. 10, the City of Chestermere had 80 active COVID-19 cases and zero deaths.
“The goal is per 100,000 case load to be under 100. Topping all communities in the province is the city of Chestermere with 383 per 100,000 case load,” Morton said.
“That is not something to be proud of in terms of where we are at,” he said.
Adding, “I can say we are doing very well in our schools and limiting spread within the schools. We are also doing very well in our restaurants and they are following the mandatory requirements.”
For communities that have been placed under an enhanced watch list, the province has mandated a 15-person limit on all social gatherings.
“Sadly, we are behind in the data, anywhere from five to eight days is my estimation, and part of that has to do with contact tracing,” Morton said.
“We learned last week through regular calls with Alberta Health officials, that at least 50 per cent of those who are being contacted by contact tracers are not providing information so they can try and track who else they were in contact with, and who may have been infected. That to me, quite frankly, is shocking,” he said.
Through contact tracing officials can try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
“People are simply not wanting to share where they may have been in terms of gatherings,” Morton said.
Once the province declared that the first wave of COVID-19 was under control, lifted the state of a health emergency, and reduced the provincial emergency response from the ultimate high level, the City of Chestermere began to relax measures put in place.
“We started to relax measures and a lot of that was about trying to get back to some degree of normal, both psychologically and economically,” Morton said.
“There’s no one magic number, we want to see trending. We want to see low cases of hospitalizations, low cases of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions, low numbers of death, and we want to ensure that we’re trending in the right area, so the health care system is not being overloaded,” he said.
Adding, “Provincially, we’re right at the teetering point. It’s a collective call for social responsibility, to try and do everything that we possibly can to keep us from getting COVID-19 and preventing the spread.”
Morton urges anyone who has been in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to also get tested, and quarantine.
“Everything needs to come together in order to manage a pandemic well. Sadly, we’re at the point where that’s not going well, and we would expect additional measures coming from the province,” Morton said.
“They are trying to balance how to keep the economy going while protecting the public, hence the plea from the Premier and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, they need help from all of us,” he said.
Going forward, the City of Chestermere is monitoring active COVID-19 case numbers and is in regular contact with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to determine what needs to be done locally.
“Our community did an excellent job in the spring and summer to keep our case numbers low and it is distressing to see them rise to these levels. I urge all members of our community to do their part to stop the spread,” Mayor Marshall Chalmers said.
“I ask that we all try and remember that it’s our loved ones and those who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 who we’re protecting when we adhere to the public health measures. We can do it, but we must rally together and follow measures to prevent the spread,” he said.
Chestermere residents are urged to physical distance, practice proper hygiene, including frequently washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces and workplace settings, staying home when sick, getting tested, and following isolation requirements while waiting for test results, and as mandated by the province, not gathering in groups larger than 15.
Currently, masks are not mandatory across the province. However, the City of Chestermere is revisiting the idea of implementing a temporary mandatory mask bylaw for the community on Nov.17.