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The Alberta government has identified 11 communities in Edmonton and Calgary that require additional support during COVID-19, particularly related to effectively self-isolating.
“Albertan in these particular communities are at higher risk of COVID-19 due to absolutely no fault of the residents here,” Albertan Premier Jasson Kenney said at a press conference on Tuesday. “The residents of these communities often have public facing jobs, which may make them more susceptible to community transmission.”
The nine communities in Edmonton include Abbottsfield, Castle Downs, Eastwood, Jasper Place, Millwoods, North East, Northgate, Woodcroft East and Woodcroft West.
The two communities in Calgary are Lower North East, Upper North East.
“These heaviest hit neighbourhoods tend to be lower income areas where people…live in higher density housing arrangement, sometimes with multi-generational families, that can make it very difficult for family members to self-isolate effectively, if needed,” Kenney said. “Many of these families also have english langue barriers, which in some cases, may make it more difficult for them to obtain current and accurate health information, and to access the…supports that are available to them.”
Alberta has now established COVID-19 care teams as on-the-ground outreach and support to these neighbourhoods. This includes care packages with masks, sanitizer, and information in multiple languages, and safe transportation to testing facilities.
The province will also provide a $625 payment to anyone in these communities who complete their self-isolation. People in these areas are eligible for a free-of-charge hotel room stay of 14 days, “complete with culturally appropriate food.”
Premier Kenney also commented on the newest, strictest restrictions that have come into effect in Alberta, indicating that he hopes there can be “significant relaxation in COVID public health measures as we move from spring into the summer.”
“I’m truly hopeful that with the plateau we have now and a decline in hospitalizations we expect over the next month, that we may be able to look at some targeted relaxations,” Kenney said. “By the end of March, we will have hopefully vaccinated 10 per cent of our population, including the most vulnerable, the very elderly and frail, seniors in nursing homes and frontline nurses and healthcare workers.”
“That will be a game changer, it should result in a significant decrease in the fatality rate of COVID-19 but we won’t be out of the woods at the end of March because we’ve still got to move on to inoculate more seniors.”