South Peace News
As the province continues with its relaunch after a shutdown to stop the spread of coronavirus, people in Grimshaw and Peace River have been asked to monitor for symptoms and get tested because of two potential exposures to COVID-19.
Posts to Snapchat, Facebook and other social media claim a teenager who was in attendance at a party at the Lac Cardinal campground on Saturday evening, June 13, went on to test positive for the virus on Monday morning, June 15. The teen is urging anyone in attendance to get tested and consider self-isolating.
After posting a warning about the potential exposure at Lac Cardinal to a community Facebook forum, Taylor Oswald says he got tested himself.
“I think I’m one of the first. I got in Tuesday [June 16] at three and once I know I’ll be making it public on my post,” Oswald says.
“As for isolation and testing we encouraged everyone to isolate and get tested. From what I understand most people have at the least gotten tested.”
The RCMP confirm there was a gathering at Lac Cardinal on both Friday and Saturday nights.
“Two of our officers made patrols and checked in with the organizers on both Friday and Saturday,” says Sgt. Dave Browne.
“The number of people in the Lac Cardinal area increased on Saturday, from the smaller crowd that had been gathered there on Friday. An exact head-count was difficult to obtain as people were gathered in open areas at several separate sites, but at the time of our member’s Saturday patrols, they were told there were about 80 people gathered and their impression was that the number of attendees was between 80 and 100 people, in compliance with the limit currently in place due to pandemic precautions,” Sgt. Browne says.
Alberta Health Services guidelines limit outdoor gatherings to 100 people.
“I can confirm that on Monday, June 15, an attendee of the gathering contacted the detachment to advise that someone who had been there over the weekend had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19,” Sgt. Browne says.
“The person who provided us with the courtesy call did not believe that our two officers had any direct contact with the individual rumoured to have tested positive and their identity isn’t known to us. It’s our understanding that those who were present at the gathering have arranged for testing. Our officers have also been tested as a precautionary measure,” he adds.
One of the small group of 15 friends who organized the original birthday party has asked not to be named as an organizer out of concern for community backlash, but he says they did not expect the party to get so big.
He says most people at the party were either outside gathered around a fire, or were in their campers due to rainy weather. It is unclear how many people interacted directly with the boy who is alleged to have later tested positive.
However, the party organizer says they are more worried about the “child” who had the alleged positive result.
“I heard he was getting bullied on Monday before everything went public. I just hope the community understands that the kid made a big mistake but we all make mistakes and hopefully people won’t be too hard on him because I’ve heard some nasty things said about him that no one deserves.”
Some people on social media have wondered if the claim there was a positive case at the party is not true but is actually a hoax or a misunderstanding, because at press time AHS has zero active coronavirus cases listed in the M.D. of Peace and the County of Northern Lights, and only one active case listed in Northern Sunrise County. The active case in Northern Sunrise County is a person residing in St. Isidore.
Contacted for comment about whether or not there had been a positive test of someone at the Lac Cardinal party, Alberta Health Services senior communications advisor Logan Clow says, “At this time, AHS is not aware of COVID transmission at this particular event.
“However, any individual who attended the party can be tested, whether experiencing symptoms, or not,” he adds.
To protect patient confidentiality, AHS cannot comment on the specifics of any COVID case, but Clow says AHS always follows-up with any known contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and does contact tracing.
“Individuals with concerns about gatherings that exceed restrictions are encouraged to report them to AHS Environmental Public Health,” he says.
Clow also clarified whether people need to self-isolate.
“Albertans are legally required to isolate if: you test positive for COVID-19; you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat that is not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition; you have been in contact in the last 14 days with someone known to have COVID-19; or, you have travelled outside Canada within the last 14 days,” he says.
Meanwhile, PGA Crop Inputs in Grimshaw announced on Wednesday, June 17 they had one employee who tested positive.
“We have taken all the safety measures to protect everyone. This employee has been at home since June 9. If you feel you have been within two meters of one of our employees for 15 minutes or more between June 6-8, please contact us,” the company,” Facebook post states.
“If you have COVID questions please call 811.”
PGA Crop Inputs says all employees are being tested and will be out of the facility until results are back. Their site is being sanitized and product sales loaded differently to allow people to stay in their vehicles.
When reached for comment, PGA was unable to provide any additional information such as the age or home community of their employee due to legal considerations. It is uncertain if their employee is the active case in St. Isidore.
The only local region under a “watch” designation on the AHS relaunch map is Clear Hills. There are 10 active cases in the Mennonite community there. Clear Hills is one of only two regions in Alberta currently being watched for consideration for additional health measures.
AHS now offers free testing for all Albertans whether or not they have symptoms, and drive through testing is available by appointment.
Coronavirus testing can be booked online at www.ahs.ca/covid. If Internet is not available, you can call 811, and 811 staff will book a test appointment for you.
“It’s best to know: getting tested helps us to protect each other and move forward together,” Clow says.