Banff reaches COVID low ahead of provincial reopening

The Banff and Lake Louise health region had the highest provincial rate of COVID-19 for its population size in April — but after that peak, the region has entered a valley.

Over the weekend, the health region enjoyed zero active COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday, there is one active case in Banff and Lake Louise.

Silvio Adamo, emergency management director for the Town of Banff, said the region’s quick pivot to provide isolation facilities, secure more testing and make vaccines available helped turn things around.

“I believe that was extremely successful and proof of that was we were able to turn our numbers around in a quick period of time,” Adamo said.

Adamo estimated upwards of 90 per cent of those eligible have already had their first dose, with 24 per cent already fully vaccinated.

Those numbers differ from the province’s statistics, where 63.8 per cent of those over 12 have received a first dose in the Banff and Lake Louise region.

Considering the town is filled with seasonal workers who come and go, Adamo said the 2017 census is a more accurate indicator of their population. He said those are the figures Banff is using.

“This is our best guess,” Adamo said.

“I think the bottom line is we believe we have a good vaccine uptake in our community based on our demographic. That seems very keen.” 

Silvio Adamo, emergency management director for the Town of Banff, said the region’s quick pivot to provide isolation facilities, secure more testing and make vaccines available helped turn things around. (Helen Pike/CBC)

To encourage more vaccination in the Bow Valley Region, there will be a mass vaccination clinic on July 5 and 6. Adamo said it’s already fully subscribed and the town is looking to set up more clinics.

While the numbers are encouraging, there are still nerves about the province’s plans to open up. Banff is a destination for those looking to get out of cities like Calgary or vacation from outside of the province. 

“Am I still nervous? Absolutely,” Adamo said. “I would love to see a higher second dose percentage in the province before we open up as much as we are.”

On Monday, Banff’s town council will debate what’s next for the municipality’s stringent mask bylaw.

The bylaw requires outdoor masking in the downtown core on top of the typical masking mandate for indoor spaces.

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