With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.
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WHO looks at possible ‘e-vaccination certificates’ for travel
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend countries issuing “immunity passports” for those who have recovered from COVID-19, but is looking at prospects of deploying e-vaccination certificates like those it is developing with Estonia.
Estonia and the United Nations health agency in October started a pilot project for a digital vaccine certificate – a “smart yellow card” – for eventual use in interoperable healthcare data tracking and to strengthen the WHO-backed COVAX initiative to boost vaccinations in developing countries.
Read more .
Health Canada to finish review on Pfizer vaccine candidate soon, federal govt. says
Canada is drawing closer to making a decision on a leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Wednesday as the federal government continued to face pressure to deliver on doses amid mounting cases and deaths.
In a series of Twitter messages, Hajdu described the United Kingdom’s decision to authorize the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech as “encouraging.”
“Health Canada’s review of this candidate is ongoing, and is expected to be completed soon,” she wrote.
“Making sure a COVID-19 vaccine is safe before approving it is Health Canada’s priority, and when a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”
Read more .
Hockey team that picked up COVID in Alberta wreaks havoc in B.C. community
An old-timers hockey team travelled from the Interior Health region into Alberta and returned with sick players, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday.
Those players then spread the disease to dozens of people, including family and workmates.
“I can tell you that it was several dozen families that were infected. Several businesses affected, long-term care was affected,” said Henry.
Read more .
Medicine Hat passes mandatory mask bylaw
Medicine Hat city council passed a mandatory face covering bylaw on Wednesday night.
Remembrance Day looked quite a bit different this year, but the message stayed the same.
“We must never forget.”
Local Legion president Sheila Donner led 100-plus people through this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony, and made sure that message was clear for all of those in attendance.
“We need to honour our veterans and we need to need to think of them more,” she said. “Many of them have scars that you and I can’t see.”
Those in attendance needed to dress in warm clothes, due to snowfall and weather around – 10.
“It’s cold out, but what’s important is that we’re here,” said Donner. “The crowd here today shows that Canada does appreciate their veterans and the sacrifices they made.
“Sometimes we can forget about veterans in the hustle and bustle, but we need to be thankful.
“Seeing everyone out here today shows me that Medicine Hat remembers.”
The ceremony was modified compared to previous years, with those in attendance being required to wear a mask. Wreaths were placed at the base of the cenotaph before the ceremony started. At the end of the program, individuals representing different organizations took turns walking up to the cenotaph and wreaths to salute.
The program was streamed live to the Cook Southland Funeral Chapel Facebook page. It can be viewed there.
Rita Myson got the ceremony early and walked to the cenotaph to see her great grandfather’s name on the mural.
Myson retired as a master corporal in 2008 and was a cook for 22 years with the armed forces. Her great grandfather John Myson died at Vimy Ridge during the First World War.
“I come out every year,” said Myson. “I’ve been a member of the Legion since 2007.
“Today, for me, is about remembering what came before us. If you don’t remember what came before you, you’re doomed to repeat it.
“Canadians are known as peacekeepers, but we’re known as some of the fiercest fighters out there.
“People before us fought for the freedoms we enjoy today and today we remember that.”
Myson says a Remembrance gathering is especially important this year.
“There has been so much isolation,” she said. “It’s important to come together and to stand together in unity.
“If anyone is feeling isolated or lonely, they can reach out to us at the Legion.
“I just want Medicine Hatters to keep smiling because tomorrow will always be a better day if you keep smiling.”
Local school boards came together this week to discuss mental health and the suicide crisis in Medicine Hat.
This was the second virtual meeting in the last month that was held for parents and caregivers. The event was hosted by school division psychologists Claire Petersen and Greg Godard.
“I think it went really well,” Petersen said of Wednesday evening’s meeting. “We were able to address some different topics than the first meeting we had.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with other divisions to have these really important conversations.”
The first event, which was held last month, was hosted by trauma expert Kevin Cameron. More than 600 tuned in live to hear their questions answered.
Wednesday’s event answered questions submitted by parents that were not answered last month.
“Parents sent in some amazing, thoughtful and really brave questions – we just couldn’t get to them all,” said Petersen. “We took the ones we couldn’t get to and grouped them together by theme.
“This week we talked about self-harm, talking with other adults about suicide, the stigma and mental health, accessing support and then we talked about building resilience.”
Petersen says the focus now is to keep the conversation going with school-based mental health professionals in the region.
“We’ve been sharing our contact information, but over the next week or so parents will see a series of videos start to come out that introduces these professionals,” she said. “We want to continue that conversation on a more individual level.
“We know there may be some specific questions people have asked that we may not have answered, so we want people to know that we are here. The video series will help families put names to faces.”
Each division is going to gather information and determine what ways it should continue to address mental health conversations and how to keep them going.
“We’ll follow up with people with more intimate conversations on a school level,” she said.
Petersen says the school year has been busier for psychologists and mental health workers than ever.
“There’s multiple reasons it’s been so busy,” she said. “I think mental health concerns, along with COVID-19 and planning, and just trying to have a way for everyone to learn.
“Everyone is working so hard and we’re ensuring that we’re there for students and staff when they need us.”
Remembrance Day ceremonies are going to look different at schools this year.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, large gatherings of students and staff can no longer happen. This means that a school-wide Remembrance assembly is not possible.
The Catholic Board of Education and Public School Division worked with CFB Suffield to create videos to show students and staff before Nov. 11. Prairie Rose schools will also be showing videos from CFB Suffield.
The public board will play its Remembrance videos on different days at different schools, while the Catholic board will show them today.
“Since we can’t be together in a normal way, we made these videos to keep the tradition of Remembrance Day going,” said MHCBE communications co-ordinator Derrian Hallas.
The public school board will have Nov. 11, 12 and 13 off next week. This was voted on recently by the board and is meant to give a bit of a break partway through the first half of the school year. Prairie Rose has the same days off as the public system.
MHPSD initially had a PD Day booked for Nov. 20, but moved that ahead and added a non-operational day to give the extended weekend.
The Catholic board voted months ago to give the entire week off. This was also voted on to give everyone a break during a stressful time.
Both boards thanked CFB Suffield for the help this year with helping make Remembrance Day happen at local schools.
The Catholic board will be posted Remembrance videos on its social media pages.
Six Medicine Hat women have been awarded scholarships through the P.E.O Sisterhood.
The Medicine Hat winners are Samara Wilson-Muir, Kennedy Galloway, Litany Bloomfield, Rae-anne Ziegenhagel, Mackenzie Marsall and Adele Gemmell.
The six young women are the recipients of the Florence E. Taylor Scholarship, worth $1,000 for each student.
Gemmel also took home the Continuing Education Scholarship, which will grant her $3,000.
All of the women are attending the college or university of their choice, in various fields of study.
Scholarship committee chair Heather Bymoen says the financial support will go a long way for the young Hatters.
“The financial help is always important to offer to young people, especially now,” she said. “Especially in the day and age, people have a lot of expenses and education costs keep going up.
“Whatever help the students can get is so important for them, and it’s important for us to help.”
Bymoen added that Medicine Hat students made up a large number of the scholarships that were given out.
The P.E.O Sisterhood is a philanthropic educational organization that promotes educational opportunities for women through grants, loans, scholarships and stewardships of Cottey College.
The organization was founded in 1869 by seven students in Iowa. It has grown to have 250,000 members in Canada and the United States.
More than 100,000 women have been given financial aid for their education from the organization.
Medicine Hat Musical Theatre is putting on a Christmas classic this Holiday Season.
The group is now rehearsing for winter showings of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and ticket sales will begin at the beginning of next month.
“We’re really looking forward to putting on this live radio play,” said MHMT’s Lyn Weisgerber. “We’ve had plans but we’ve had to push them back for musicals, so we’re really hoping we get the chance to go through with this radio play.”
Weisgerber says the radio play is an adaptation of a popular Holiday film.
“It’s a classic movie that people watch around Christmas time,” she said. “The play people will be seeing reads the script to the movie in a 1940s radio station.
“It’s a really fun way of doing this.”
MHMT is preparing for a live audience and is hoping to be able to sell 50 tickets to each showing. People will need to wear a mask at the theatre, but can take it off to eat and drink.
“Safety is always the top priority for us,” said Weisgerber. “The unique thing about the radio play we’re doing is that we only have five characters.
“Our cast are playing Hollywood actors, who are reading the script to a radio audience.
“Since we only have five people, one person can play 13 or 14 different people – it’s a lot of fun.”
There will be five actors on set and a foley artist making sound effects during the play.
Rehearsals are happening now for the show, and two casts have been brought on to play it safe.
“We don’t want anyone to get sick,” said Weisgerber. “We will have everyone trained to jump from one cast to the next, just in case.”
Tickets will go on sale on Nov. 1 on MHMT’s website. Last-minute ticket sales are due to uncertainty around COVID-19.
“We don’t want everyone to pay, and then have to lock down again,” said Weisgerber.
Opening night is Nov. 26. The show will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday for three weeks in a row.