It's time we talk about COVID-19.
The City of Calgary has been working extremely diligently with our partners at Alberta Health Services (and can we all agree on how amazing Dr. Deena Hinshaw and her team are?) to monitor and prepare for the impacts of this virus.
I've been focusing on three basic principles. Clean hands, clear heads, open hearts.
Clean hands is obvious. Wash (sing Happy Birthday twice, or a song of your choice!) and sanitize regularly, don't shake hands (elbow touches if you're wearing long sleeves, or a nice namaste or even foot-fives will do, and will help you remind others of the importance of hand hygiene), and try not to touch your face. Cover your cough in your elbow. Clean surfaces that you touch regularly. This will greatly reduce the risk of transmission, and will help us "flatten the curve."
This concept has been thrown around a lot in recent days, but it isn't new. It means, as in the graphic above, that we need to push out the rate and spread of infection over a longer period of time, so it’s easier to manage.
Whenever there is an increase in public conversation of an illness, many looking to take precautions go to see their doctor or go to a hospital. By doing this, we risk overwhelming the public health care system.
If you or someone you've been in contact with have traveled outside of Canada and are experiencing lower respiratory symptoms like a cough or shortness of breath, a fever, or general fatigue - call 8-1-1. The medical experts on the line will determine if you need to receive further testing or go into some level of quarantine. Don't be shy to call, and don't worry that a call means you'll automatically be in a 14-day isolation.
If you don't meet these criteria, but are still sick -- STAY HOME. We are each responsible for ourselves, but let's remember, that we're also responsible for our community, especially seniors or those with compromised immune systems.
Clear heads - The most important thing to note is that there is no reason to panic. This will get worse. There will be more cases. But we are so very lucky to be here. We have a government that works. We have a robust public health system. We need to be smart and cautious, but we will get through this together.
Open hearts - Calgary is a city that has always been about community. We have to be responsible for our own health, but we can do a lot to help our neighbours. Maybe that means bringing supplies or a meal to your neighbours' doorstep if they're isolating (don't go inside!) or shoveling their sidewalk. It certainly means taking extra care of the elderly in our community. These moments in our lives remind us of the important things and what we can do every day to help.
You should also know what The City of Calgary is doing to prepare for a broader public issue.
We are currently assembling a small team that will take a look at all City-organized events and will be evaluating them against the Public Health Agency of Canada criteria (https://www.canada.ca/…/health-professionals/mass-gathering…) to determine if they should go forward or be cancelled. I would encourage private organizations, non-profits, charities, and other organizations to do the same.
As the second-largest employer in Calgary, and as the local government, we are ready with our plans to keep essential services, like waste management, water treatment, emergency services, and transit operational so that the people of the city can continue to live their lives and feel safe.
Should the situation escalate, we have plans in place. All of these are being coordinated with The Province, and public safety is the number one priority.
We must be vigilant, but we also have to remember that our risk remains low. Despite everything that is going on, there is no place I'd rather be than right here in Calgary, where preparation and safety response is the best in the world.
Oh, and don't stockpile toilet paper. That just doesn't make any sense.
Categories: Stronger communities