Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer (left), emergency management co-ordinator Karen Mann, and city manager Allan Seabrooke provide a COVID-19 update via Facebook video conference on Monday. (Screenshot).

‘Sanitized’ transit buses will continue to run, despite Red Deer’s state of emergency, say city officials

City continues to work on ‘complex’ problems — like protecting the shelter population

Extra elbow grease is going into cleaning Red Deer transit buses so this “backbone” of municipal transportation can continue running during the pandemic, says a city official.

During a Facebook live video conference on Monday, Karen Mann, director of emergency management for the City of Red Deer, said “transit is a backbone service that allows people to get to work and to get around…

“Enhanced cleaning” is therefore underway to sanitize bus seats and other surfaces, to try to keep them virus-free so that buses can continue providing a safe mode of travel for Red Deerians, Mann added.

While there are no plans to stop bus service, aside from dropping school runs since classrooms are now closed, Man said updates will be provided if anything changes.

The City of Red Deer has shut down recreation and culture centres and public libraries. Credits for cancelled classes or passes can be obtained through the city’s website or by calling 403-342-8111.

Discussions will take place in the days ahead about whether city hall and other municipal buildings should also be temporarily closed to the public, said city manager Allan Seabrooke. He added cues will be taken from recommendations provided by Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

Mayor Tara Veer explained why a local state of emergency was declared even though Red Deer has no COVID-19 cases, as of the latest information that was provided late on Monday afternoon. There are now two cases of the virus in Central Zone zone, and Veer said Red Deer’s position as a regional hub was taken into consideration. “We have different pressures.”

Declaring a state of emergency allows for more nimble and flexible decision-making, and will also allow the city to draw on more emergency personnel and resources from the province, as needed, she added.

“We need to make decisions quickly about public health and safety… in this unprecedented situation.”

Seabrooke predicts additional challenges ahead. He said the city is now trying to work out ways to keep “vulnerable” people safe in shelters, while also protecting the health of social services staff, who do a lot of close-proximity work with this population. Seabrooke called it a “complex” problem, given the need for isolation if someone tests positive for the virus.

Regular video updates will be provided by the city daily at 6 p.m. on the City of Red Deer’s Facebook page. Anyone with questions or concerns can call the city’s call centre at 403-342-8111 or visit reddeer.ca/covid-19.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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