January 20th, 2021

City prepared to use emergency powers

By Lethbridge Herald on March 19, 2020.

Lethbridge Director of Emergency Management Marc Rathwell, in front of Mayor Chris Spearman, speaks with reporters Thursday during the City's daily briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
The City is preparing to use its emergency powers to do what is necessary to slow the COVID-19 outbreak, and is considering the economic implications to local businesses should the crisis continue for a prolonged period of time.
“It has become clear through our Emergency Co-ordination Centre that we do require additional resources, particularly to support our vulnerable population,” stated City of Lethbridge Director of Emergency Management Marc Rathwell at the City’s daily briefing on the COVID-19 crisis on Thursday.
Rathwell was explaining why it was necessary to declare a State of Local Emergency despite the risk of spread of the disease still being quite low at this time.
“It’s just an evolution, a step up, in terms of our practice and our processes,” he added. “It also enables us on a local level to secure facilities and other resources we might be in need of. This will also help us co-ordinate better with all the other agencies that we will be working with, AHS, and local agencies like the university, college and school boards.”
By declaring the State of Local Emergency the City has also gained emergency powers to support Alberta Public Health’s fight against the virus in whatever way is needed, said Rathwell.
“Specifically, the pieces we were looking for when we enacted the State of Local Emergency was around resourcing,” he explained. “This could be around getting facilities we need and also equipment we need. Some of those resources may also be people … So to do social distancing in, say, a homeless shelter, we are going to need more facilities and more space to spread people out so we can maintain those safe social distances at this time.”
Rathwell said the City’s full Fire and EMS resources were at the ready to ramp up their efforts as needed during this continuing outbreak.
“I will emphasize this: people who have flu-like symptoms; they need to call 811 and/or follow the online reporting structure AHS has developed as you go through the assessment tool online. For all other emergency calls, we are still in business.
“I can confirm all of our fire resources are intact and ready to respond, and we have no decrease in manning on the fire side of our business. For any other public inquiries regarding Fire and EMS, you can contact the City’s 311 information line.”
Mayor Chris Spearman said with the Alberta government stating it expected it would still take four to five weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak peaked in the province, the City was contemplating measures like property tax and utility bill deferrals while the crisis continues.
City council would likely be discussing those measures very soon, he said.
Spearman also predicted the outbreak would likely do significant longer term damage to the local economy and local businesses, and it was time to start planning to help address that.
“Our business community in Lethbridge is already hurting,” he said. “Economic Development Lethbridge has already begun engaging stakeholders about the formation of a focused YQL Economic Recovery Task Force. I expect more details on this initiative will follow in the coming days. It’s essential we find ways to support local businesses throughout this crisis, and throughout the recovery that will follow. Organizations that can help contribute to the work of the task force are invited to contact Trevor Lewington at Economic Development Lethbridge.”
City manager Jody Meli said additional measures had been taken to protect City employees and the public after the State of Local Emergency was declared on Wednesday. These included closing city hall to the public as well as at the transit building. She said staff would also be re-deployed to beef up the 311 Call Centre crew, which is handling the bulk of the inquiries from concerned citizens, and other areas of need within City operations.
“Moving forward, we just need to be nimble as we re-deploy staff in the necessary areas,” she said. “We are continuing to work on that as this changes every single day.”
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The question is, do we need to start using restricted access to grocery stores, one necessary store we need? Monday, I had to get supplies from the grocery store and noted several people shopping that were sick looking, several and 2 very sick, different areas of store. The 2 people both had on paper type disposable masks and both looked like they had been worn for several days. They both had bad phlegmy coughs . . . the masks did nothing to protect the people around them and who knows what they had or what they picked up or touched . . . my vegetables were washed with soap and water and not touched yet . . . waiting for another 2 days . . . not even going to bother to bring up the ‘hoarding’ shoppers that had watched too many TV shows and Movies and panicked, thinking the world was ending! If it were, do you really need all those supplies??
We would all have had enought that day and even today, if they hadn’t done that. Today the eggs are back in stores, more toilet tissue is showing up after people bought 1 year supplies, with very little consideration for their fellow man!

Again, do we have to start performing heatth checks on people prior to them entering a grocery store, which is a vital supply needed, to protect the public and the products from contaimination???

Common Sense . . . Respect for Fellow Man . . . should NOT BE something that needs enforcement, but it appears many are not getting the point that this virus is highly contagious and even the seasonal Type A and Type B influenza virus killed 52 Albertan’s last flu season.

Example: You and your family follow all the protocols to get through this crisis, but you go our to get supplies and someone who is sick picks up a can or box after wiping their nose with their hand and decides they don’t want it and puts it back, then moves on . . . you come along and no one is even near you or the product. You pick it up and put it in your cart, then your eye itches and you rub it with your hand . . . you just infected yourself .. . OKAY the likelihood is low, but it is possible!

Today, Walmart South was operating normally, not following distance protocols, workers coming right up to you, face to face, until asked to step back . . . people not keeping separation . . . no one followed the COVID-19 protocols!
I have been talking with people in Alberta and BC and they know people that are coming home from trips abroad that are NOT self isolating and running around in malls, stores and even some restaurtants that are still open!
Will it take them sharing it with a loved one that has a compromised immune system and dies before they wake up??
You can have the virus and not have symptoms!!

Wake up . . . this is something that can get your whole family or someone else’s sick . . . I have members of my own family that have had to self isolate in their homes and do you think they want to do that . . . !
Again, do we need to start enforcing these protocols, to protect us all ???
Can’t we be mature, compassionate, respectful and considerate for our fellow man . . . or do we need enforcement . . .authority! This kills . . . but if we follow protocols the numbers will be low maybe as low as normal flu season or lower.
Show some love, some respect for your fellow man! Stay at least 3 feet apart but try for 6 feet as the norm!
If you are sick . . . stay home and call the health care hotlines available!

My parents went through 2 world wars, influenza epidemics, Polio, TB, dirty 30’s, etc., and survived without the supports and medicines today . . . we will get through this with minimal deaths if we follow the protocols!!

The world is not ending . . . Christ will not be returning for a few more years for you Christians that think this is it . . .love and respect each other!!! Be well!!