COVID-19 cases spike in Banff as mayor calls for support from province

The town of Banff has some of the highest per capita active COVID-19 case numbers in Alberta according to the province, sitting at 1,097 cases per 100,000.

That makes it the third-highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the province. In comparison, as of Nov. 23, Calgary and Edmonton’s hardest-hit regions registered 728 and 718.9 COVID-19 cases per capita respectively.

On Sunday, the town of Banff added new measures to try to control the spread of infection by temporarily shutting down high-intensity fitness classes and cohort sports teams.

Story continues below advertisement

Mayor Karen Sorensen told Global News Monday the town’s current COVID-19 situation is very concerning.

“It has spiked in the last week, we have a very high case count.”

“This is a very serious matter for a small community,” she said.

According to Sorensen, the Banff region includes the town of Banff, Lake Louise as well as Banff National Park, but it does not include the ski hills.

Read more: Banff passes mandatory mask bylaw that includes outdoor areas

Sorensen told Global News Monday AHS believes the current spike in COVID-19 cases in her region is directly tied to Halloween and social gatherings that took place at that time.

The town is currently under “Enhanced Status” with regards to provincial restrictions. This status places a limit on social gatherings and encourages mask use in indoor work settings. Alberta is the only province without a provincial mask mandate.

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta is the only province without a mask mandate. What is the impact on public perception?

Like other municipality leaders, Sorensen expressed limited options to manage the COVID-19 situation. The town of Banff implemented a strict mask bylaw at the end of July, including indoors and outdoors along the main avenue. But she said that is not enough.

Story continues below advertisement

“We absolutely need more testing here. We have predominantly two doctor’s offices doing testing, and they can only do 40 tests a day. We need significantly more than that.”

The mayor said they have also asked for help with creating spaces for people to isolate.

“Our local [YMCA] has given us some rooms for people to isolate in. But we need more.”

Additionally, the town has asked the province to grant their local bylaw officers the power to enforce certain health orders. According to the mayor, that enforcement authority is currently only granted to RCMP officers within the area.

Click to play video 'Should Albertans be using triple layer cloth masks to prevent COVID-19 risk?' Should Albertans be using triple layer cloth masks to prevent COVID-19 risk?

Should Albertans be using triple layer cloth masks to prevent COVID-19 risk? – Nov 4, 2020

Sorensen said they have sent proposals to the province on these requests and are waiting to hear back. In the meantime, the local council met Monday to figure out what other options fall within municipal boundaries for implementation.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: New COVID-19 restrictions expected to be announced in Alberta Tuesday afternoon

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Monday afternoon she was going to make recommendations to the province to implement stricter measures. An announcement is expected Tuesday afternoon.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: 1,549 new COVID-19 cases and 5 additional deaths recorded in Alberta Monday' Coronavirus: 1,549 new COVID-19 cases and 5 additional deaths recorded in Alberta Monday

Coronavirus: 1,549 new COVID-19 cases and 5 additional deaths recorded in Alberta Monday

Sorensen acknowledged any sort of a pause to business is incredibly difficult, but said she believes most Canadians, Albertans and Banff residents just want to do what is right.

“We want to do whatever we can to get through this and keep people safe.”

–With files from Michael King 

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View Source