COVID-19 Update February 26th, 2021

Memo to: People we Support, Families, Guardians and Skills Society Employees

Re: Prevention and Preparedness Regarding the Novel-Corona Virus (COVID-19)

From: Senior Leadership of Skills Society

February 26, 2021

COVID-19 Cases in Alberta and at Skills Society

As of February 25th, Alberta has 4,484 active cases (897 in the Edmonton zone), and 399 new cases in Alberta were identified on February 24th.Tweet from Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Reads, Progress is not guaranteed to last. COVID-19 still poses a threat & our choices matter. Cases are starting to plateau instead of drop & we are seeing steady new variant cases. If given the chance, this virus will spread widely & we risk losing the gains we’ve made. Downward trends are a reminder we have the power to limit transmission when everyone limits in person interactions & we follow both the details & spirit of restrictions. Let’s keep working together to keep bending the curve down until vaccines are here for everyone who wants them & we can celebrate what we have accomplished together. Lives saved. Hospitals kept from overflowing. Our communities protected. We can do this together.

In our Skills Society Community, to date and since the beginning of the pandemic 37 individuals we serve and 42 employees have tested positive with COVID-19. 

Community transmission in Alberta has been decreasing, and we have seen reduced cases at Skills, with the majority of cases being in November and December when community transmission in Alberta seemed to have peaked. We continue to monitor cases within Alberta and our organization closely, as well as variant cases within the province. We are not out of the woods yet, and we are seeing a few more cases in the last week in Skills supported homes. The Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Dr. Hinshaw, continues to remind Albertans that until everyone can be immunized, we need to remain vigilant and follow all COVID-19 safety precautions and public health guidance. 

No decisions by the Government of Alberta regarding Step 2 of easing restrictions will be made prior to March 1st, 2021. Skills Society continues to take a cautious approach to relaunch, safeguarding the people we support and employees as best possible and taking into account individual and guardian wishes, as well as roommate plans. Our temporary COVID-19 measures regarding supporting non-essential outings continue to remain in place until further notice (please see the January 11th memo for additional details). These temporary measures are in place to help protect staffing models and further reduce potential transmission of COVID-19. As with the provincial mandatory public health restrictions, the Skills temporary measures are continuously reviewed and extended as needed. These measures are based on recommendations from the CMOH for all Albertans and for vulnerable Albertans at risk of severe outcomes. As soon as we become aware of new information from the government or Health Authorities we will communicate this to the people we support, families, guardians, and staff in a timely manner. 

For more information on the provincial mandatory public health measures visit alberta.ca/COVID19.

Outdoor social gatherings

With spring approaching and the weather warming we encourage people to spend time outdoors with appropriate gear to stay warm and safe. Skills has taken a balanced approach throughout the pandemic, always balancing precautions with safeguarding the mental and physical well-being of the people we serve. Below are reminders of important safeguards regarding outdoor social gatherings. 

Effective January 18th, provincewide for all citizens, outdoor social gatherings are permitted with the following restrictions: 

  • outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people maximum
  • must not have an indoor component (i.e., backyard gatherings that require movement in/out of homes are not permitted)
  • attendees should remain distanced at all times and follow all public health measures
  • don’t share food/drinks

Indoor social gathering restrictions remain in place provincewide. All indoor social gatherings, both public and private, are prohibited, and close contacts are limited to household members only. 

Skills continues to strongly recommend that people we support keep outdoor visits/social gatherings small (i.e., 5 people including yourself as per CMOH Order 29-2020) – limiting the number of in person contacts. People we serve and guardians are asked to reference individual and roommate COVID-19 safety plans regarding outdoor visits/gatherings, while following and abiding by all municipal and provincial restrictions and health measures.

Critical Worker Benefit Advocacy

On February 17th, 2021 further information about the Critical Worker Benefit was made available by the Government of Alberta which excludes many disability workers from being eligible for the benefit. All employees in our organization have been essential to steward our community of people through the pandemic as safely as possible. We and many others within the sector continue to engage in advocacy efforts to help ensure that all disability workers are eligible for the benefit. 

COVID-19 Immunization Update

Skills Society has been preparing for when the people we support and our employees will be eligible to receive COVID-19 immunization. Thank you to all the people we support, family members, guardians and employees; in less than a month we were able to gather consents and necessary forms so that when we are contacted, we can quickly release information to Alberta Health Services (AHS). 

Skills Society has not received confirmation of when COVID-19 immunization for all the people we support and employees will happen.  

Many of the older adults we support are in the process of being immunized (i.e., have received their first dose) or will be in the coming weeks. Any Albertan 75+ (born 1946 or earlier) is eligible to receive the vaccine. We encourage family members and guardians of the people we support born 1946 or earlier to reach out to their loved one and book an appointment to be immunized. You can book an appointment online, by calling 811, or contacting a participating pharmacy in Edmonton. 

We continue to advocate that the people we support and all Skills employees have the choice to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Timelines for who is eligible to get vaccinated when are made by Health Authorities. Currently we have not been told what phase and/or group of the vaccine rollout our sector will be included in. On February 19, 2021 the Government of Alberta announced details for Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout. We have included a summary of the Phase 2 groups below. For more information visit alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine.

Photo of a COVID-19 Update Slide from the Government of Alberta and Premier Jason Kenney speaking. Slide reads Phase 2 Group A. Albertans aged 65 to 74 years. First Nations and Metis people aged 50 to 64 on or off reserve or Settlement. Staff and residents of licensed supportive living not covered in Phase 1.

Photo of a COVID-19 Update Slide from the Government of Alberta and Premier Jason Kenney speaking. Slide reads Phase 2 Group B. Albertans aged 18 to 64 years old with underlying health conditions.

Photo of a COVID-19 Update Slide from the Government of Alberta and Premier Jason Kenney speaking. Slide reads Phase 2 Group C. Residents and staff in congregate living: correctional facilities, homeless shelters, group homes for disabilities, mental health and other licensed supportive living. Health-care workers and caregivers for individuals at high risk of severe outcomes.

Sincerely,

Senior Leadership Team of Skills Society

 

For More Information

  • If you are a family or guardian and require additional information please be in touch with the manager associated with your loved one’s support. 
  • If you are a Skills Employee and require additional information you can be in touch with your supervisor or Pandemic Coordinators, Linda or Ed at 780-496-9686.

Previous Public Memos

Public Memos are available on our website under the ‘news’ tab.

March 3rd COVID-19 Update →

March 12th COVID-19 Update →

March 16th COVID-19 Update →

March 20th COVID-19 Update →

March 27th COVID-19 Update →

April 3rd COVID-19 Update →

April 9th COVID-19 Update →

April 13th COVID-19 Update →

April 17th COVID-19 Update →

May 1st COVID-19 Update→

May 15th COVID-19 Update →

June 5th COVID-19 Update ->

June 12th COVID 19 Update →

June 23rd COVID-19 Update → 

July 24th COVID-19 Update → 

August 11th COVID-19 Update →

August 18th Board of Directors COVID-19 Update →

August 21st Sharing Further Health Recommendations on Ways to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 →

September 2nd A Message from Skills Society’s Pandemic Coordinator →

September 11th Ways That We Can All Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 →

September 18th  COVID-19 Update → 

October 2nd COVID-19 Update → 

October 30th COVID-19 Update → 

November 10th Very Important Recommendations Regarding COVID-19 Prevention and Preparedness → 

November 16th Very Important Message Regarding Prevention and Preparedness for COVID-19 Increasing Cases → 

November 25th Very Important Message Regarding Prevention and Preparedness for COVID-19 – New Mandatory Public Health Measures → 

December 10th Very Important Message Regarding Prevention and Preparedness for COVID-19 – New Mandatory Public Health Measures → 

December 22nd Stay Safe and Best Wishes for the Holidays → 

January 5th Happy New Year and Important Message → 

January 20th COVID-19 Update → 

Note: What’s happening with COVID-19 is changing rapidly. We become aware of new information from the provincial and federal governments and health authorities on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. We are working hard to be responsive to this new information as it becomes available. As such, information in this memo may change and quickly become outdated. We are doing our best to communicate new information to the people we support, families, guardians, and staff in a timely manner.