The province has promised an investment of more than $170 million to protect Albertans who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.
Minster of Health Tyler Shandro announced Tuesday (May 19) that the province will be supporting long-term care, designated supportive living facilities and seniors lodges with an investment of $14.2 million per month during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This funding increase is the right thing to do for vulnerable seniors and it’s also a critical part of our relaunch strategy in Alberta,” Shandro said. “We need to get Albertans back to work and enjoying this province but in order to do that safely we need to protect the people who are most at risk.”
Protecting the province's most vulnerable Albertans is a key condition of Alberta’s economic relaunch, Shandro said. He noted that more than 70 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in the province have been in continuing care facilities.
There have been 128 COVID-19 related deaths in the province, with the average age of mortality being 82-year-old.
“The reality is these residents are vulnerable to the pandemic and they will continue to be until there is an effective vaccine to be found— It’s essential that we ensure that these facilities have the tools and the resources they need to protect their residents and their staff,” Shandro said.
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The funding will be used to support following public health measures and will include funds for enhanced staffing, extra cleaning supplies and lost accommodation revenue due to vacant beds and rent freezes. Facilities will be responsible for reporting how funds are used and will be returning funds that are not spent on COVID-related purposes.
The funding provided to care homes will be retroactive to March 15 and will be provided to facilities until the COVID-19 health measures are lifted and the threat of the virus has passed, Shandro said.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said supporting the safety of residents and staff at these facilities is critical as they face a serious challenge in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and following public health orders.
“The risk to continuing care residents is very real and we cannot let up on the measures we are taking to protect them,” Hinshaw said.
She reported that 5,584 Albertans have recovered from the virus leaving 1,004 active cases in the province.
There are currently 64 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, eight of whom have been admitted to intensive care units.
In the last 24-hours, the province has completed 2,428 COVID-19 tests and 33 new cases of the virus have been identified in Alberta.
Hinshaw added that there have been no new deaths.
“While it is too early to see the full impact of relaunch so far our cases number in the province have held steady,” Hinshaw said. “Our cases are stable.”
It is critical to continue following public health measures, social distancing and proper hygiene during the relaunch, Hinshaw said. She explained these actions can save lives by preventing the spread of the virus and seeing a surge in cases as the economy is reopened.
Hinshaw said the reopening will not be a return to life as it was before the pandemic, because cautious steps are being taken to protect the most vulnerable and the spread of the disease during the relaunch of the economy.
“We have not seen a high attack rate or death tole here because Albertans have protected each other by our actions,” Hinshaw said. “We must continue to protect each other as we move slowly into reopening businesses and resuming social activities.”