Coronavirus: Calgary Co-op announces enhanced measures to protect employees and shoppers

Calgary Co-op has announced new measures in order to support its employees and Calgarians during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a news release on Wednesday, the company said starting this week it’s installing plexiglass dividers, adding new sanitation measures and designating hours for seniors to shop.

The company also announced raises for its front line staff.

“On behalf of our entire Calgary Cooperative family, I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to our store staff, as well as our loyal members,” Ken Keelor, C.E.O. of Calgary Co-op said.

“Our team interacts with our members every day, and we are here for each other – together for good.”

Co-op said all hourly front line team members including union, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and Home Health Care, will receive an additional $2.50 per hour.

The raises are retroactive to March 8 and are expected to last until at least May 2, when officials said the situation will be reassessed.

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“It is only by pulling together as a community that we will overcome these trying times,” Keelor said.

The company also announced it is looking to hire more employees.

“Calgary Co-op is actively recruiting additional temporary part-time team members to offer more store support.”

Meanwhile shoppers are expected to see some changes at their local Co-op due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials say in addition to plexiglass dividers to allow space between employees and customers, there will be enhanced staff distancing measures such as till staggering.

Masks and gloves will be made available to pharmacists and officials said all front line staff will also have access to gloves.

The grocery chain said it’s also removing its self-serve stations in the interest of health and safety.

“The salad bar, olive bar, wings/fried chicken bar, curry and soup bars, open seafood cases, bulk bakery cases, self-serve coffee and self-serve kombucha stations are no longer available.”

Store hours have been carved out for seniors and those living with disabilities or immunocompromised people so they can avoid the crowds.

Co-op said every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. has been specially designated to support those groups in the community.

“This is to ensure those shoppers have access to a freshly-sanitized, fully-stocked grocery store.”

Other grocery chains, including Sobeys, Save-On-Foods and Real Canadian Superstore owner Loblaws, have made similar moves.

Last week, Co-op announced deliveries of free Calgary Co-op care packages to local residents directed to quarantine by Alberta Health Services.

Officials said that initiative is expected to remain until April 15 or until supplies last.

The company said Calgarians can apply for one Calgary Co-op care package per household by emailing [email protected] with “Calgary Co-op Care Package” in the subject line.

People are asked to include their full name, phone number, address, postal code and nearest Calgary Co-op location in their request.

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Alberta’s Dr. Deena Hinshaw tests negative for COVID-19, back at work Tuesday

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, who has become the calming face of the provincial response during the COVID-19 pandemic, is clear of the virus.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw has tested negative for COVID-19, one day after she went into self isolation after developing a sore throat.

Hinshaw has been the face of the response to coronavirus in the province, giving daily updates and advice to Albertans. On Monday, she gave the update through video conference as she isolated herself due to cold symptoms.

During that update, she said that Alberta now had 74 cases of COVID-19, up by 18 from the day before.

Hinshaw said Monday that she was following her own advice by self-isolating at the first sign of any cold symptom.

“I felt well yesterday but woke up with a sore throat, and although my symptoms are mild, it is important to note that no one is exempt from staying home, even when they have mild symptoms,” she said during the video conference update.

Hinshaw said she was tested after senior provincial leaders asked her to, so she could come back to work in person without waiting for a 14-day quarantine.

She stressed on Monday that it is important that any Albertan stays home if they feel sick.

Albertans who believe they need testing for COVID-19 can do so by calling Health Link 811. However, before calling, Albertans should take the coronavirus online assessment test to determine if they need to speak to a nurse.

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Confirmed coronavirus cases in Alberta reaches 39; 2 patients in intensive care

Alberta Health confirmed Saturday afternoon that there are 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total to 39.

Six of the new cases are in the Calgary zone and four are in the Edmonton zone, Alberta Health said.

Two of the new cases — one in the Edmonton zone and one in the Calgary zone — have been admitted into intensive care, according to Alberta Health. All other new cases are self-isolating at home and expected to make a full recovery.

Alberta Health said eight of the new cases are related to international travel or to a previously confirmed case, adding that the other two cases are being investigated.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, addressed school safety concerns amid the virus’ spread, saying the province is monitoring the situation carefully.

“I understand that parents are concerned about their children going to school, and they, along with teachers, school administrators and boards, have questions and concerns,” she said.

“I cannot emphasize enough the time and discussion that continues about this decision. If we do make the decision to close schools, it will be considering long-term closure. This pandemic will not end in a matter of weeks and there won’t be a clear opportunity to reopen schools likely not until September at the earliest.”

Hinshaw stressed the importance of practicing good hygiene during the pandemic and staying away from others if you develop symptoms.

“The most important thing I want Albertans to do is to stay home when feeling sick,” she said.

“Even if you have not travelled, if you have symptoms of cough or even mild cold-like symptoms, you need to stay home and away from others. This is critically important. Although most of those cases would not be COVID-19, we want to make sure we are all practicing the new normal, which is not being out in public when sick.”

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Coronavirus: Using Alberta’s online self-assessment tool

To help reduce call volumes to 811, Alberta Health Services has launched an online self-assessment tool to help people determine whether they should be tested for COVID-19.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on Friday that Health Link has been receiving more than 6,300 calls a day and the wait times are long. The government has doubled 811 staff and more are being trained.

“We all want to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Shandro said in a news release.

“Identifying and isolating people infected with COVID-19 is a critical way to help stop the spread. This tool will help you decide whether you need a swab to determine if you have COVID-19, without leaving your home, which can help us further contain the spread.”

The government of Alberta also made changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act on Friday, extending from five days to 14, removing the requirement for people to provide a medical note for time off, and waiving the 90-day employment eligibility period.

Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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