Alberta is increasing the number of self-isolating hotels and offering new supports for COVID-19 patients in communities with a high number of active cases.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney announced that Edmonton has nine hotels ready to accommodate people who need to be quarantined, while Calgary has six and Peace River has one.
Quarantined hotels will be added in Fort McMurray and Red Deer, while Edmonton and Calgary are expected to get more places.
Hotels are for people who cannot safely quarantine in their homes. An example would be a person living with an immunocompromised person or in tight spaces. Food, accommodation and transportation will be covered by the Government of Alberta.
A one-time payment of $ 625 will be made to anyone due to complete their quarantine in a hotel. Canadians are already entitled to $ 500 per week from the federal government if they have COVID-19 or if they need to care for others who have it.
“It’s the same payment we make to Albertans who evacuate natural emergencies like fires and floods,” Kenney said. “In my opinion, the vulnerable people affected by this public health emergency who are doing the right thing by isolating themselves need similar support to be safe.”
In April, the Athabasca Tribal Council established a similar center for COVID-19 cases in indigenous communities.
The quality of housing was cited as a major concern by First Nations leaders in Wood Buffalo. It is not uncommon to find at least three generations of people living in one house.
“If someone did become infected… it would be better to isolate them rather than lock up the whole family and infect them,” Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said at the time.
Kenney also announced that new COVID care teams will be on the ground in 11 of Alberta’s hardest-hit neighborhoods – nine in Edmonton and two in Calgary. The care teams in these areas ensure that residents understand the public health orders. Treatment kits, including masks and hand sanitizer, are provided.
In Edmonton, COVID care teams will help the people of Abottsfield, Castle Downs, Eastwood, Jasper Place, Milwoods West, North East, Northgate, Woodcroft East and Woodcroft West. In Calgary, the assisted neighborhoods will include the Upper Northeast and the Lower Northeast.
“These worst affected neighborhoods tend to be located in low income areas where people naturally live in higher density housing,” Kenney said.
Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard said each care team will be different depending on the needs of each area.
“We do this because you matter,” Allard said. “Your health and safety are important, your communities matter and your families matter.”
Dr Deena Hinshaw said new cases of COVID-19 continue to level off in Alberta, but hospital admissions are increasing across the province. She urged Albertans to stay away from crowded malls and maintain physical distance.
“Every COVID-19 hospitalization is an additional stress on our acute care system,” Hinshaw said. “Just as no single measure can stop this virus, no one can stop it either.”
“The only way to control the transmission is to do our part.”