On Thursday, August 13 a Chinook Winds Regional Council Town Hall was held via Zoom with two members from the office of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. The presentation was led by Dr. Kathryn Kaliaska, Medical Officer of Health Provincial Lead-Safe Healthy Environments who also took questions.
The meeting was recorded so that anyone who missed the meeting can watch:
In addition, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has provided important information in the notes below:
To summarize the crux of the conversation, how you mitigate risk is highly dependent on how people flow in and out of your church facilities and move within the buildings. AHS’ best advice is that you thoroughly review all faith-based activities, rituals, and practices to determine if they increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 amongst congregants, staff, and/or volunteers. Any activity or practice that increases the risk of COVID-19 through contact (touching surfaces) or droplet transmission (sneezing, coughing, singing, shouting) should be discontinued or altered to prevent the risk.
- Physical barriers, such as the Plexiglas barriers many of us have seen introduced in grocery stores, are the best and most proven way you can help to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.
- Physical distancing, staying 2 meters away from others, should be implemented wherever possible, using signage and other reminders.
- Hand hygiene combined with the above strategies is also an important tactic for reducing risk. Ensuring your staff and volunteers have access to hand sanitizer or the ability to frequently wash their hands is critical. In addition, ensuring hand sanitizer is available for your visitors would be a great additional precaution.
- Stay home, and require your staff, volunteers and parishioners to do the same, when you are experiencing any symptoms at all.
You should also consider the use of masks if physical distancing is not always possible. AHS’ advice on preventing the spread of COVID-19, including how to wear masks, can be found here. Watch this video to learn how to properly don and doff (put on and take off) a mask to keep yourself and others safe. There is also Guidance for Wearing Non-Medical Face Masks for the general public.
As Dr. Kolisaksa said, you can contact a Public Health Inspector for more specific information, or to request advice in taking proactive measures in a specific church building.
Relative to the offer to assist in sharing AHS’ key messages to help protect your congregants, community leaders and healthcare staff, we encourage you to print and post the posters and signage that AHS and Alberta Health have prepared.
AHS Signage & Posters: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17000.aspx
Alberta Government: https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-information-posters.aspx
You can also participate in AHS’ social media campaigns, such as Who Does Your Mask Protect? This social media campaign kicked off by Dr. Verna Yui, President and CEO of AHS, asks Albertans to share who they are wearing a mask to protect, and challenge others to do the same. You can post on social media, or complete a poster to display. #WearingIsCaring
If you have any follow up questions or comments please:
Email Community.Engagement@ahs.ca. We would love to hear your feedback.
Complete a survey here.
You can also subscribe to AHS’s weekly stakeholder e-newsletter by emailing Community.Engagement@ahs.ca.