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Coronavirus: Alberta changes PPE distribution, businesses must obtain own masks after June 30

Alberta announces changes to PPE distribution in the province
WATCH: Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announces changes to how the province will be distributing personal protective equipment.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Monday the Alberta government was changing its distribution process for personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns to prioritize workers at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“Now, as more companies around the world produce PPE, it’s easier to get these products on the open market,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said.

“As Alberta moves forward with our relaunch efforts, the need for PPE to protect our vulnerable Albertans remains paramount. This is why the provincial government is keeping key groups as a priority while we change our distribution process.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Alberta assures ample supply of PPE ahead of shipments to B.C., Quebec and Ontario

Hinshaw said the government will continue to ensure publicly funded or contracted settings have PPE at no extra cost.

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“Government will continue to support and prioritize Alberta’s critical service providers in publicly funded or contracted settings,” she said.

“There will be no changes in the provincial PPE supply for hospitals and clinics operated by Alberta Health Services, continuing care facilities, supportive living facilities and home care services which are operated and or contracted by Alberta Health Services, publicly funded lodges, mental health housing, residential addiction treatment facilities and shelter operators and police, fire and emergency medical services.”

For those who don’t have other sources in the short-term, private organizations and companies can access PPE through the government until June 30 but will have to pay fair market price for it.

After June 30, they must get PPE from their own suppliers.

READ MORE: AHS collecting used N95 masks, may sterilize and reuse them

Hinshaw said this change does not mean Alberta is running out of PPE.

“We are not,” she said, adding it’s important the government has a long-term plan for supplies and distribution channels during the relaunch.

If there is an urgent need for PPE, requests can be made to the province and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, she said.

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“N-95 masks will be provided at a fee to dentists for emergency procedures only and to morticians for embalming procedures for the duration of global N-95 shortages. These requests will be managed through the professional associations.

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“This is a decision the government did not make lightly,” Hinshaw said, adding it’s in line with other provinces.

“Finally, this announcement does not change the premier’s promise to distribute non-medical masks to the public. More information on that will be coming soon.”

Daily COVID-19 numbers

Three more people have died from the novel coronavirus, Alberta Health said Monday.

The three Albertans who passed away were a man in his 80s and a woman in her 90s linked to the Intercare Brentwood Continuing Care Centre in Calgary and a woman in her 80s in the Calgary Zone.

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“These deaths are a reminder of the worst-case scenario outcome from this virus and why need to continue to take this seriously,” Hinshaw said.

Alberta may consider alternate dates for Phase 2 relaunch if numbers remain good: Hinshaw
Alberta may consider alternate dates for Phase 2 relaunch if numbers remain good: Hinshaw

She said 5,979 Albertans have now recovered from COVID-19, leaving 762 active cases in the province.

Out of 3,010 lab tests done in the last 24 hours, 19 new cases were identified.

As of Monday, 45 people were in hospital, five of whom were in intensive care units.

Since the pandemic began 138 Albertans have died of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Calgary and Brooks get green light to move forward with Stage 1 of Alberta’s relaunch strategy

Hinshaw’s update comes as more businesses in Calgary and Brooks are allowed to reopen. As of Monday, the two cities can join Stage 1 of the province’s relaunch, which will see businesses like restaurants, hair salons and barbershops open with restrictions in both cities.

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READ MORE: Alberta Health announces 42 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Evaluating Alberta’s economic relaunch

While Phase 1 of Alberta’s relaunch has gone well, Hinshaw reminded Albertans it has been just 10 days and the virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days.

“While it’s very encouraging — and I would congratulate all Albertans for this early success — I think that we also, again, need to be mindful that it’s not over yet,” she said.

“We will continue to watch for that full incubation period. We’ll be watching Calgary and Brooks as the hair salons and restaurants are able to open today.”

The encouraging numbers in Alberta are a double-edged sword in a way, Hinshaw explained.

“The fact that we’ve been able to successfully contain the spread through our measures has the unfortunate side effect of having people perhaps not see how serious this situation is.”

Hinshaw responds to Lethbridge martial arts studio threatening to reopen ahead of schedule
Hinshaw responds to Lethbridge martial arts studio threatening to reopen ahead of schedule

“We have to remain vigilant. The virus has not gone away and the fact that we’ve been so successful is because of these measures that we’ve taken together. So if collectively we stop taking these protective measures, then my concern is that the virus can spread and spread through to people who are vulnerable to poor outcomes.”

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The tentative date being considered for Phase 2 of the relaunch is June 19.

“We’ll continue to watch the numbers and we may be able to consider alternate dates if our numbers remain good,” Hinshaw said.

The province is also taking another look at under which stage certain businesses and facilities should be classified.

There have been a lot of questions and requests regarding gyms and fitness centres opening in an earlier stage.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Alberta looking at whether gyms could open earlier than planned

“We have heard concerns and also have been watching the experiences of other jurisdictions,” Hinshaw said. “For example, B.C. and Saskatchewan, who have classified sports and recreation in an earlier phase.”

Sports guidelines will likely be posted by the end of the week, Hinshaw said.

“Certainly any sports organization that can have their activities meet those current outdoor recreation guidelines can start that right away.”

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