Protecting at-risk Albertans from COVID-19
June 27, 2020 Alberta Gov News Release
Government is calling on all Albertans to remember who they are protecting from COVID-19.
Anyone can become ill from this virus. Older Albertans and those with heart disease, diabetes or other underlying medical conditions are the most at risk of experiencing severe health outcomes.
To date, 139 of the 154 deaths reported in Alberta were individuals over the age of 70. Almost 90 per cent of those who died from COVID-19 had two or more underlying conditions.
“Albertans have faced COVID-19 as they do any other obstacle – head-on, with grit and determination. Our government will continue providing unprecedented support for vulnerable groups, but we need everyone to act responsibly and encourage others to do the same. Simple actions save lives, so let’s all keep doing our part.”
Jason Kenney, Premier
“COVID-19 is still a threat to Alberta. We are extending critical supports put in place to protect those most at risk, including residents in continuing care facilities. This includes provincewide funding to help cover costs arising from COVID-19 protective measures and help seniors to remain safe at home.”
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health
“Every one of us acts as a shield that protects our friends, families and neighbours from this virus. By taking simple, everyday actions, we can help limit the spread, particularly to those most at risk of COVID-19. Every time we step out the door, we should ask ourselves: ‘Who am I protecting today?’”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health
Strong protections across the province
Government is extending the robust supports put in place during the spring to protect at-risk Albertans.
This includes $14.2 million a month – and more than $170 million total – in additional funding to help keep residents and staff safe in long-term care, designated supportive living facilities and seniors’ lodges. Funding will continue until the orders from Alberta's chief medical officer of health are lifted. It is being distributed in coordination with Alberta Health Services and Seniors and Housing.
Operators are using this money to pay for enhanced staffing and extra cleaning supplies, and to address lost accommodation revenue. Long-term care and designated supportive living operators have already received $38.7 million.
The wage top-up of an additional $2 per hour for health-care aides at contracting continuing care facilities will also continue, along with funds to increase staffing levels, at a cost of $7.3 million a month.
Other recent investments for at-risk Albertans include:
· $500 million in additional funding for Budget 2020 to support Alberta’s health system during the pandemic.
· $30 million to charities, not-for-profits, food banks and civil society organizations to support their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
· $25 million to expand shelter space across the province to protect Albertans experiencing homelessness and allow for physical distancing.
· $21.6 million to expand online resources and virtual supports for Albertans seeking help for mental health and addiction challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
· $5 million for women’s emergency shelters to support women and children fleeing violence to ensure they are protected and have access to safe isolation with supports.
Additional measures to support at-risk populations
A number of other targeted measures will also continue until further notice, including:
· Asymptomatic testing for all Albertans, including at all locations with outbreaks and all continuing care facilities.
· Mandatory protections for staff and residents at continuing care facilities, including continuous staff masking, staff screening, and restrictions on staff working at more than one facility.
· Enhanced outbreak protocols and infection prevention and control measures for all continuing care facilities and independent seniors living facilities.
· Strengthened protections at residential addiction treatment facilities, including screening protocols for residents and staff, enhanced cleaning, and outbreak reporting requirements.
· Almost 20 million free non-medical masks distributed to Albertans in June, with another 20 million to be released in July.
· Expanded monitoring of licensed supportive living and long-term care settings to ensure compliance to protocols and standards.
Government is now engaging with those most at risk of severe outcomes to hear their ideas on what restrictions can be safely relaxed while still protecting them from infection. This includes seniors, senior-serving organizations, and disability groups.
Remember who you are protecting
While these measures are vital, the most effective way to protect at-risk individuals is through collective action that makes our communities safe for all.
Leaders from the worlds of sports, music, media, and government in Alberta have come together in a new video encouraging Albertans to ‘remember who you’re protecting.’
By taking simple, everyday actions, we can all protect our family, friends and neighbours, particularly those most at risk of COVID-19. Stay home if you are sick, get tested, practise physical distancing, wear a non-medical mask when you can’t, and wash your hands regularly.
Albertans who may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 can also take steps to protect themselves. Follow the public health guidance provided and talk to your health-care provider about specific ways to support your well-being.
Quick facts about at-risk populations in Alberta