A request for decision on a mask bylaw is set to come back to council next week, including the possibility of implementing masks in town owned buildings and spaces where town programs and services are provided or delivered.
Alberta is currently leading the country in daily new COVID-19 cases and active cases. Hinton’s active cases shot up recently to 28 on Aug. 31, while Yellowhead County now has 108 active cases.
“The last time we brought in a mask bylaw, the threshold was 15. We’re almost double that at this current point. It might be in our best interest if we still believe in those same principles to maybe get administration started on bringing something back for us in the eventuality that we want to implement a bylaw,” said Coun. Tyler Waugh after the topic was raised as a discussion item by Coun. JoAnn Race.
Coun. Dewly Nelson expressed that he could support a mask mandate in municipal facilities, but was concerned about enforcing a bylaw across the community without the leadership from the provincial government. He questioned if the focus right now should be on masks or encouraging residents to get vaccinated.
“There’s a real problem with governance below the provincial levels–politicians, school boards and that sort of thing–trying to make health decisions. We are not educated in that field, I’m a teacher, I’m an administrator at a school, I’m not trained in epidemiology. I don’t know at this point in time if the issue is really masks or if it’s vaccination rates,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.
Council hopes to gain more knowledge on this issue prior to the mask bylaw coming back on Sept. 7.
Acting CAO, Laura Howarth, said the Town’s administration has kept all restrictions in place, including plexiglass, masks, and distancing. She added that within public spaces it wouldn’t take much to implement all health protocols again.
The positivity rate in Alberta was 12.42 per cent, close to the highest it’s been during the entire pandemic.
Across the province there are 431 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 and 106 in the ICU as of Aug. 31.
With 69.8 per cent of eligible Albertans fully vaccinated, Alberta opened up third doses of the vaccine for all seniors living in congregate care facilities and for immunocompromised Albertans on Sept. 1. Roughly 118,000 seniors are eligible to receive their third dose around five months after their second dose.
Receiving a third dose will boost immunity levels and improve protection for seniors, stated the provincial press release. In addition, mRNA doses will be made available to Albertans who are travelling to jurisdictions that do not accept visitors with Covishield/AstraZeneca or mixed doses.
Third doses in the case of travelling Albertans are available at least 28 days after a second dose.
In terms of travel, some jurisdictions outside of Canada have indicated that they will not accept visitors with Covishield/AstraZeneca or mixed doses.
Immunizations records are available through MyHealth Records but Albertans who are travelling can also use their hard copy record provided at the time of vaccination.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice