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COVID-19 outbreak declared in Canmore, community also reports first death

In the past week, Canmore has declared a COVID-19 outbreak, reported its first death and lost symptomatic testing in town
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in Canmore in relation to renovations at Safeway. Officials said the individual has fully recovered. RMO FILE PHOTO

CANMORE – A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in Canmore.

On Tuesday (Oct. 20), Alberta Health Services (AHS) reported an outbreak in Canmore in relation to the renovation crew Einbau Ltd. and Kristhofer Dileone Painting – linked to renovations at the Canmore Safeway.

“On Oct. 10, Public Health confirmed that an employee in our Safeway store at 1200 Railway Avenue location in Canmore, AB did test positive for COVID-19,” Samantha Detwiler, Sobeys external communications specialist wrote in an email. 

“The employee last worked on Oct. 2, 2020 and has since fully recovered. All measures recommended by Public Health were implemented
fully and are complete.”

Safeway officials said due to the "ongoing and rigorous sanitation protocols in place," the store was not asked to close.

"As an essential service in communities across Canada, our top priority is to keep our customers and our teammates safe," Detwiler wrote.

"Our Safeway location in Canmore continues to diligently follow Public Health approved cleaning, hygiene, and operations, doing all we can to keep our customers and teammates healthy."

According to AHS, outbreaks are declared when there are five or more confirmed cases – unless the confirmed cases are at acute care, or continuing care facility, where an outbreak is declared if there are two or more cases.

The news comes just days after the community also reported its first death due to COVID-19. Over the weekend, AHS reported a COVID-19 related death of a Canmore resident – the first in the Bow Valley.

AHS said it could not release any other details due to the size of the community, citing privacy concerns. Of the four deaths reported over the weekend, two were in the Calgary zone, which Canmore is located – a man in his 70s and a man in his 80s whose death is connected to the outbreak at the Foothills Medical Centre.

When asked if rural Bow Valley patients are transported to urban centres for COVID-19 hospitalizations, AHS said patients are transferred to other AHS facilities whenever the required level of medical care is not available.

"For example, if a patient needed ICU care, and their local hospital did not provide that level of care, they would be transferred so that they get the care they need," Kerry Williamson, AHS Executive Director with Issues Management Communications wrote in an emailed statement.

As of Wednesday (Oct. 21), according to AHS there were two active cases, 26 recovered cases and one death reported in Canmore. ID No. 9 (Banff) had one active case and 14 recovered cases and the Municipal District of Bighorn was reporting three active cases and six recovered.


The COVID-19 outbreak and the first death reported in Canmore, comes less than a week after Canmore lost all symptomatic testing sites in town.  

On Oct. 15, Ridgeview Medical Clinic announced it stopped COVID-19 swab clinic operations.

"The safety of our physicians, staff and patients must take priority and with inclement weather expected just around the corner, we can no longer ensure a safe outdoor testing environment," officials wrote in a statement.

With Ridgeview Medical Clinic no longer offering symptomatic testing, that leaves anyone in Canmore who needs a COVID-19 swab to now travel to the two clinics in Banff – Alpine Medical Clinic and Bear St. Family Physicians – or to the Lake Louise Medical clinic – the only clinics in the Bow Valley still offering symptomatic testing.

Stoney Health Services also offers testing in the Morley townsite, but it is open to Nation members only.

"We would like to extend our thanks to our regular family practice patients who have been incredibly patient with our physicians' schedules also accommodating swab clinic bookings during this time. We are also grateful to the Bow Valley Primary Care Network for their role in coordinating and championing testing availability among our local clinics," Ridgeview Medical Clinic officials wrote.

"We are proud to have been able to offer this service to our local Bow Valley community for the past six months, particularly in the noticeable absence of an AHS Assessment Centre within an easily accessible distance."

While the Bow Valley Primary Care Network has three pharmacies in Canmore listed to get asymptomatic testing, on Tuesday (Oct. 20), Alberta Medical Chief Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the province would be stopping asymptomatic testing and focus on symptomatic testing instead.

"We are putting a pause on asymptomatic testing [and] will continue symptomatic testing, or if you are in close contact to a linked case," Hinshaw said.

"With respect to our current situation in the province – we are not out of the woods, we are in the danger zone where the coming weeks will tell a story."

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