Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo declaring State of Local Emergency as local COVID-19 cases rise


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The RMWB reported 1,102 active cases—1,081 cases in Fort McMurray and 21 cases in rural areas—on Sunday. There are more active cases and workplace outbreaks than anywhere else in rural Alberta. The region leads the province in viral spread per capita.

Fort McMurray’s public and Catholic schools have moved all classes online for at least two weeks. These numbers do not include the commuter workforce.

An April 24 memo from Alberta Health Services (AHS) to health care staff at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) said certain procedures are being delayed as rising cases send COVID-19 patients to acute care and intensive care units. Staff will be redeployed as COVID-19 patients rise.

AHS spokesperson Tracy Kennedy confirmed Sunday there are 19 patients with COVID-19 at NLRHC, including nine patients using all available ICU beds. ICU capacity can be expanded, said Kennedy, but she did not mention by how much.

Council also passed a motion urging the provincial and federal governments to hasten vaccine distribution in the RMWB.

Council and Indigenous leaders are also asking for an emergency meeting with Premier Jason Kenney; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Alberta’s education and health ministers; AHS leadership; Federal ministers of health, public safety and Indigenous services; and industry partners.

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A state of local emergency was first declared by council at the start of the pandemic on March 20, 2020.

Those powers included the authority to close businesses and use public facilities—such as recreation centres or hotels—to deal with the crisis.

It also gave the municipality power to restrict the flow of people into certain areas and declare evacuations.

The municipality also had access to a higher level of procurement for items such as gloves or masks. A chain of command was created if the mayor was unable to physically work.