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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

COVID-19 Cases Spike Causing More Hardship For Albertan Businesses And Residents

On April 6, Premier Jason Kenney, along with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro took to the podium to inform Albertans that they were once again implementing stronger restrictions. Premier Kenney was the first to break the disturbing news announcing that the province will move back to Step 1 due to rising daily case numbers and increased hospitalizations.

Locally, Vermilion is currently experiencing a severe COVID outbreak at Lakeland College as declared by Alberta Health Services. The College reported on April 9 it has 56 cases of COVID with 52 of those infected being students and four involving staff. Of the 56 cases 45 are the UK variant B.1.1.7.

According to a statement provided by President and CEO of Lakeland College Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, it says that there is evidence that these cases are linked to isolated off-campus social gatherings, which were not in compliance with provincial public health guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health. The statement also states that AHS health inspectors visited the Vermilion campus to review their protocols and found them to be more than sufficient for on-campus learning. However, to prevent risk of transmission they had moved classes for agricultural sciences and environmental sciences online as well as interior design technology.

“We have increased cleaning and disinfection in our residences. Common areas in residence and in other areas of the campus have been closed. Our recreation facility, Equine Centre, cafeteria dining area and library have closed. I want to assure you that we are taking this situation very seriously. Our team is actively working to ensure additional measures are in place on campus to prevent transmission,” stated Dr. Wainwright-Stewart.

AHS provided on-site voluntary COVID-19 testing to all Vermilion campus students and staff who have been on campus since March 25. Students and employees were provided with both the rapid and standard COVID-19 test. Currently there are 26 students who are isolating on the Vermilion campus and residence staff are supporting them, meals are being provided to those in the traditional dorms and arrangements for supplies and access to health services have been provided as needed.

The Vermilion Credit Union was closed to in-person services last week due to a confirmed active case within a staff member on Sunday, April 4.

“We determined the best course of action was to close our doors to in branch traffic in our Vermilion branch, for this week at minimum, to insure suitable cleaning and the results from any additional testing of our staff that would be required. We have a number of staff working remotely at this time with some isolating in accordance with the government guidelines,” stated David Eremko in an email response.

Eremko also stated that they have contacted any members that may have potentially come into contact with the positive case and that they have followed the applicable guidelines put in place by Alberta Government.

“We do remain open for business using our drive thru teller, we continue to provide all of our online channels as well as our ATM network. For anyone requiring in branch service or assistance our Mannville branch does remain open for in branch activities,” commented Eremko.

Kenney announced over the weekend that vaccine ramp ups were going to be happening to get more doses of the available vaccines into the arms of Albertans. Check website to see if you are eligible.

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