Alberta may have begun COVID-19 vaccinations today, but cases are still rising.
Premier Jason Kenney announced at a Tuesday press conference that the province had seen 1,341 new cases of the virus over the past 24 hours, adding to the 20,649 currently active cases.
Kenney noted that there are a few hotspots in Alberta that have seen higher spread, and he’s announced a number of new outreach programs that aim to support those 11 communities.
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“This pandemic has had a profound impact across the province, touching all our communities and all sectors of our economy – but for some, this impact has been even more severe,” said Kenney.
“Alberta’s government will provide extra help to protect families in communities dealing with high rates of spread. We need to meet people where they are and help them to stay safe.”
Those who have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in these 11 communities will be offered a free-of-charge hotel room stay for 14 days, which will include culturally appropriate food.
At the end of the stay, the self-isolating guests will be eligible for financial aid of $625.
Kenney also announced the creation of COVID Care Teams to provide on-the-ground support to these communities by offering care packages containing masks, hand sanitizer, and COVID-19 information in multiple languages.
The care teams will be launched alongside a public awareness campaign that will also be delivered in multiple languages.
“Albertans from all backgrounds have been impacted by the pandemic,” said Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu in the release.
“The Government of Alberta recognizes that bold ideas are needed to protect the safety of all Albertans. I want to thank community leaders for helping Alberta’s government develop a caring and compassionate strategy that addresses the needs of their respective communities. We will overcome the challenge of this pandemic, and we will do it together.”
The Province of Alberta release notes that these 11 communities, nine of which are in Edmonton and two of which are in Calgary, face more prevalent barriers including employment in public-facing jobs, higher density living arrangements, have more newcomers to Alberta who may not have local supports, and a higher number of people with English language barriers.