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Some Good News

Messages from neighbour to neighbour--signs of positivity and care in the time of COVID-19. Photo: Lucy Haines

We all need to know the latest health and safety news around COVID-19, but there can be a toll from the constant stream of worrisome data, coupled with being cooped up inside for the undetermined future. There's no doubt, we are hungry for lighter fare to offset the negative.

If you've seen actor John Krasinski's SGN (Some Good News) Facebook posts, which are attracting hundreds of thousands of views, the faux-news, 15-minute segments are a gathering of positive moments found from around the world, and a response to a world weary of strictly COVID-19 news. There have been families sewing, assembling and distributing cloth masks within their community, a teacher showing up outside a student's home with a white board to help explain a math problem, and the self-isolating cast of Broadway's Hamilton doing a virtual rendition of a favorite show tune for a young fan.  This type of news is speaking to people, with copycat programs also popping up online.

Face Protection

In Edmonton, Page the Cleaner is pivoting from dry-cleaning to cloth mask production. Like many local businesses, the company has had to lay off about half its employees due to COVID-19, but general manager Bruce Hogle said he saw an opportunity to keep some staff employed while helping the general public by creating cloth masks. Hoping to be in production this week, the masks will have a filter sewn between two layers of material. And while Alberta Health hasn't yet formally recommended masks for the public during the crisis, Hogle said his masks and others like them can at least offer some barrier and peace of mind for those that want it.

At a cost of $9 per mask, Hogle said it's not a moneymaker, but a way to cover the cost of producing the masks and a chance to get staff working again. Email for more.

Facebook tells of the boy scout who is using his 3D printer to create a mask strap. The device helps relieve pressure off the ears for front-line health care workers who wear masks all day. With an overwhelming response requesting more of the straps for donation to local hospitals and medical professionals, Scouts Canada is asking volunteers with 3D printers to get busy and do the same with a model to follow on

Also making use of a 3D printer, a gift he found under the Christmas tree a couple of years ago, grade 9 student Owen Plumb is making PPE shields which he hopes will be distributed to those working at health centres in the Foothills area.

Plumb has made approximately 100 PPE face shield--a protectant against spray and liquids--which are now waiting to be shipped out to help those fighting the crisis.

“A couple of weeks ago, I spent the weekend researching where I could find parts and the necessary plastic to make them. About 10 days ago I started manufacturing them," said Plumb.

Seniors receive 'thinking of you' postcards

At some seniors homes, residents are waving at each other from sidewalks and balconies, or standing outside of windows and patio doors and talking via cell phone, just a pane of glass apart. In fact, many seniors facilities are offering lounge windows as a spot for this purpose, or supplying iPads and cell phones to talk via Skype or face-time. At CapitalCare's Kipnes Centre for Veterans in NW Edmonton, Brenda Vanden Biggelaar has been able to talk to her 94 year-old mother Phyllis via face-time, even though her mom isn't computer savvy and doesn't have a cell phone.

"My brother, sister and I can send mom 'thinking of you' postcards this way, and see her and talk on face-time," said Vanden Biggelaar. "We haven't been able to physically be with her since March 15, and we used to visit every day, so this is hard. But we can see she's smiling and doing well--even cracking a joke."

COVID-19 Baking

Known for a more fine dining experience, Edmonton's Rge Rd. is now selling butcher meat packs and ready-for-the-freezer or oven pierogies, pot pies and empanadas.  Keep your eyes peeled for the company's breadmaker kits, which sold out within an hour today. The kit comes with sourdough starter, local Gold Forest Grains flour, yeast and a recipe for two loaves. More kits are expected next week. See for details.

Spring Car Parade

Seniors in care homes can't physically be with family this Easter weekend, so for the residents at Touchmark at Wedgewood Retirement Community (Lessard Rd. NW), a car parade around the community will spread some cheer. On April 9 at 1:30 p.m. staff, family and friends of resident seniors will be part of a car parade around the community, waving and saying hello with signs as they drive the area's ring road. Residents will take in the warm wishes and greetings from their bungalows, apartment balconies and windows.

Inside the building, other staff will also be going door to door to drop off Easter treats and goodies to each resident.