"We must do what we can to help one another."
– Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta chief medical officer of health
As efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 continue to impact St. Albert in unprecedented ways, none of us have remained untouched. Yet here in the midst of crisis, we see the absolute best our community has to offer.
You, like most of us, are probably grappling with the new reality of cancelled classes and limited social interactions. Whether your kids are unexpectedly at home now, you have family rushing to get back from overseas trips, your situation at work is uncertain or you have an elderly loved one who you can no longer visit, this new normal can be exhausting and overwhelming.
That's why we at the Gazette believe it is more important than ever to highlight the ways in which our neighbours, businesses and organizations are coming together to help each other. Our community's response to this crisis shows that although we may have to physically distance ourselves from each other, we are still a community in the true sense of the word.
When news hit Sunday afternoon that the province would be cancelling K-12 classes altogether, it took a matter of minutes for St. Albert students and parents to begin offering their services for babysitting and child care.
When the province announced churches were no longer exempt from the rule against gatherings of 250 people or more, local churches recognized the spiritual and emotional need was still there, so they took it upon themselves to find digital ways to get their services to their congregations. You can read about the efforts of one of those churches, the St. Albert Alliance Church, to offer e-services on Page 10 of this edition of the Gazette.
When the province recommended seniors homes close their doors to non-essential visitors, local care homes began brainstorming how to reduce the isolation of their residents without putting them at risk. The Citadel Care Centre, which has 129 long-term care residents, is asking children and community members in general to write letters and send photos to the centre's residents: "They bring a smile and a positive conversation," director of care/site manager Dana Schnepf said in an email, and some residents are choosing to write back. (If you'd like to participate, the best way to do so is to scan your letter and email it to [email protected]).
And let's not forget the efforts of our local leaders to keep us safe. Much of the disruption to our usual lives comes as a precautionary measure to "flatten the curve" – i.e., reduce the opportunities for COVID-19 to spread. St. Albert was the first municipality in our area to take decisive action in this regard, with the city deciding Friday night to close city-owned and city-leased buildings. They've since cancelled numerous events that would have brought large gatherings together, even events that were scheduled to take place months from now. They're doing what they can to keep important services such as public transit running normally, by reducing buses to half capacity.
Throughout the past couple of weeks, residents across the city and beyond have put out offers to help other residents, especially ones who are having to self-isolate, get much-needed groceries and kindly leave them on their doorstep.
We aren't surprised at the enormity of this public response, but we are grateful. We are all, truly, in this together.