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Wood Buffalo adjusts after first day under mandatory mask bylaw

PHOTO. Packages of face masks on April 29, 2020. RMWB Council will meet on Oct. 13, 2020, to debate a bylaw that would call for mandatory masking of all residents in public spaces across the region to mitigate possible community transmission of COVID-19. (PHOTO: Tony Fera, CityNews)

Alberta reports two new cases and one recovery of COVID-19 in the RMWB in the last 24 hours.

All are in Fort McMurray, which has 45 active cases, one death, and 299 recovered cases of the illness.

Outside the urban service area, there are seven active cases and 64 resolved cases.

Its the first report since the RMWB enacted the 30-day mandatory mask-wearing bylaw on Oct. 26, 2020.

With 52 active cases reported, the region remains on the province’s COVID-19 watch list.

The Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) announced Dave McNeilly and Walter and Gladys Hill public schools passed Alberta Occupation Health and Safety (AOHS) audits.

The group’s health inspector found both schools had no “COVID-19 omissions”.

That means they are compliant with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and AOHS guidelines.

“It’s great to see COVID compliance across the Division,” Said Linda Mywaart, Board Chair of the FMPSD, “We are proud of our schools.”

All schools within the RMWB do not have outbreak situations or links to two or more COVID-19 cases, according to AHS.

In the last 24 hours, Alberta has 422 new cases and two additional deaths linked to COVID-19.

123 Albertans are in hospital with 16 in intensive care.

Alberta has 4738 active cases, 309 deaths, and 21,108 recovered cases of COVID-19.

Contact tracing

Alberta’s Opposition leader said the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said a recent Harvard University study recommends a ratio of tracers to the population.

That would mean about 1,300 tracers for Alberta, but the province only has about 800 tracers.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said more are being recruited.

Speaking at an Oct. 27 news conference, Notley made several recommendations to steady the number of COVID cases and reduce the risk of a large-scale economic lockdown.

“We don’t want to see closures. We don’t want to see jobs impacted. If we had more contact tracers, and if we were able to have faster turnaround on testing, we’d have a better idea of where to take targeted action.”

Alberta recorded more than 500 new cases a day over the weekend, with a record-high 572 cases on Oct. 24 and 504 on Oct. 25.

RELATED: RMWB re-enters COVID-19 watch list, enacts Face Covering Bylaw

Hinshaw directed limits for social gatherings in Edmonton and Calgary to no more than 15 people.

Notley is also calling for the province to introduce a COVID-19 risk index to give businesses an opportunity to see what health measures may be triggered by future case counts and plan accordingly.

“Right now, I would say, quite frankly, the indication that I get is that to some degree we’re flying a bit blind.”

This article includes excerpts from the Canadian Press.