Edmonton, Alberta! Immediately Mandate Masks To Stop COVID-19 Spread
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IMMEDIATELY MANDATE MASKS IN EDMONTON.
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND MUST CARE FOR OUR COMMUNITY.
Albertans face an uptick in cases of COVID-19 in mid-July. The majority of these new cases cannot be traced to a particular source. Therefore contact tracing is impossible in many instances. We are all at risk of once again of having to shelter in place and close businesses if the number of cases continues to increase at this rate.
On Monday July 20, there were 141 new cases in Alberta. This follows 368 new cases in the previous three days. On July 21, 2020, University of Alberta Economist Andrew Leach writes: “If active case growth in Alberta proceeds at the same daily rate as it has for the last 2 weeks through to September 1st, we'll have 13,600 active cases by the time kids are heading back to school, and we'll be adding ~1000 cases per day after Labour Day.”
We must control the spread of the virus. Our children are supposed to return to school in the fall. Will we find ourselves sending our children into unsafe and risky school environments?
The UCP provincial government has refused to take leadership in mandating masks for Albertans. Thus it is up to cities and municipalities to step up.
Calgary mandated masks beginning August 1 “in all City of Calgary buildings, buses, trains, taxis, malls and grocery stores.” ( July 21, 2020.)
Why should Edmonton wait until August 1 when every day delays implementation and increases the opportunity for the virus to spread?
WHY MANDATE MASKS? COVID-19 can be deadly. We also know that it can diminish the capacity of various parts of the body. The more we know about the virus, the more we know the damaging effects proliferate: blood clots, strokes, heart damage or failure, neurological deficits, fatigue, immune compromised systems, etc. Avoid getting the disease like the plague, because, well, it is our plague. And the effects of the virus can be long-lasting.
Some Albertans resist mask-wearing. Studies show that mandating masks increases the participation of people in wearing masks.
We must increase the rate of mask-wearing in order for it to be effective.
"We know with modelling that we need 80 per cent of the population to be masking regularly in order for the community spread to be contained," says Dr. Amy Tan, a Calgary-based family physician, Associate Professor, University of Calgary. She is co-organizer of Masks4Canada.org, a group that "wants to see masks mandatory for all Canadian students when they return in the fall during the COVID-19 pandemic." (Note: with medical exemptions and accommodations - see below.)
Masks are being mandated around the world. In Asia many people wear masks in part because they had experience with SARS. Many of these countries have demonstrably lower rates of COVID-19.
A Canadian Leger poll found a 10 per cent increase in support for masking between June 26 and July 12. Sixty-seven per cent of Canadians support mandatory masking for all indoor public spaces.
"A growing body of scientific evidence suggests the use of masks and face coverings is an inexpensive, acceptable and non-invasive measure to help control the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is spread through contact with the respiratory droplets produced by someone who is infected when they cough, sneeze or even when they laugh or speak, including by individuals who may not have symptoms – known as being asymptomatic. Evidence suggests wearing a mask reduces the likelihood of droplets infecting those around an individual." *(Toronto Bylaw)
WHERE SHOULD MASKS BE AVAILABLE: The Government of Alberta has been distributing masks at fast-food restaurants. This is not convenient for all. The masks should also be available at groceries and pharmacies.
WHAT KIND OF MASK OR FACE COVERING? The City of Toronto “COVID-19: Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw” provides a model:
"The mask or face covering should cover your nose, mouth and chin, without gapping. Wearing a mask or face covering is an additional measure we can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep each other safe. This means that, with some exceptions, all customers or visitors entering an indoor premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside."
WHERE SHOULD MASKS BE WORN?
1. TRANSPORTATION - Masks must be worn on public transit, taxis, etc. and in places where people wait for transit.
2. PUBLIC INDOOR SPACES
*(Toronto Bylaw list) "all indoor spaces that are openly accessible to the public, including:
malls, shopping plazas
grocery stores, bakeries, farmer’s markets (enclosed areas)
restaurants, bars (indoors)
indoor recreational facilities, gyms, swimming pools
community service agencies
personal service settings
churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and faith settings
art galleries, museums, aquariums, zoos
banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums, and other event spaces
real estate facilities such as open house, presentation centres
common areas in hotels, motels and short-term rentals (e.g. lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms)
entertainment facilities including concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos
business offices open to the public."
Not everyone can wear masks so there must be ACCOMMODATIONS AND EXEMPTIONS: "The bylaw will include exemptions for those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, children under the age of two, and other accommodations [these can be detailed.] The bylaw will also permit the temporary removal of a mask or face covering when receiving services, having a meal, or engaging in athletic or fitness activity. The bylaw will not apply to apartment buildings and condominiums, child care facilities and schools, and areas that are not enclosed (i.e. restaurant patios)." *(Toronto Bylaw)
How will we enforce mask-wearing?
Enforcement: "Enforcement of the bylaw will focus on education and otherwise be complaint-based. In extreme situations and where education does not result in compliance, bylaw officers may take enforcement action as required. A ticket issued for an offence under the bylaw carries a set fine of $1,000. The maximum fine under the Provincial Offences Act is $5,000." *(Toronto Bylaw)
Note: "Face masks and coverings do not replace the need to keep a distance of two metres or six feet from others, wash hands often and stay home when sick. A fact sheet on how to properly and safely wear and care for a non-medical mask is available on the City’s website." *(Toronto Bylaw)
Thank you for your consideration. We are all in this together!
Janice Williamson, PhD, is a concerned citizen, a resident of Edmonton since 1987, and Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta.
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