200 City of Edmonton employees on leave with COVID-19, including outbreak at Edmonton Fire Department – Edmonton

As businesses in many industries grapple with staff shortages due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the city of Edmonton has said it is also concerned about the potential impact of the fifth wave on its workforce.

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases among its employees, the city said on Tuesday it was making minor adjustments across all departments so that it could continue to provide priority services.

There have not yet been service disruptions, according to the city, but they will be taken into account if the Omicron cases result in labor shortages.

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As of Tuesday, there were around 200 active cases of COVID-19 among city employees. The city has acknowledged that these numbers are expected to change from day to day.

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The city has specifically reported cases to the Edmonton Fire Department, where about 51 of 1,100 firefighters are currently off work due to COVID-19. This number represents about 4.5 percent of the total number of firefighters in Edmonton.

The city said the EFRS continues to move people and complete shifts to ensure the fire department is properly staffed.

“Protecting Edmontonians from fires is a vital service to this city,” the city said in a press release.

“The City of Edmonton has a strong continuity process to assess, evaluate and adjust work to provide priority services, such as snow and ice control, transit, recreation centers , waste management services and emergency services, in the event of a disruption.

In an update Wednesday afternoon, EFRS fire chief Joe Zatylny said 53 frontline firefighters were absent due to COVID-19, or about 4.8% of the workforce.

EFRS is currently on the province’s list of COVID-19 outbreaks.

“There are four fire stations that meet the criteria to be declared as a COVID-19 outbreak station location, each with 10 or more consecutive cases,” Zatylny said, adding that the stations were scattered throughout the city. .

“The stations which were impacted, we were able to decontaminate them, to reassign them so that there is no interruption of service. “

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Zatylny said the service is currently replacing fire crews on leave, as well as redeploying members from non-emergency and training tasks to the front lines.

Additional measures have been taken within fire stations, such as increased social distancing, improved cleaning and disinfection, and strict protocols for preparing and cooking meals.

“What we’re seeing here – and that’s part of the concern – is that when we start to lose large amounts of staff, how long can we maintain that? And this is something that we are monitoring very closely and making sure that we look at all the data, making sure that we don’t want to exhaust our staff arriving in their free time to make sure that we can continue to provide serving Edmontonians and keeping them and our staff safe, ”he said.

“I want to reassure all Edmontonians that we will continue to be on hold, to answer their calls when needed.”

Greg Rehman, president of the Edmonton Firefighters Union, said he was concerned about the growing number of absent members, but not surprised given the number of cases in the community right now.

“Our members being on the front line, we don’t have the ability to work from home… we are at work every day,” he said. “Our number one priority is to ensure that our members are healthy and safe in order to provide safe and efficient service to citizens.

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“We have contingency plans in place when those numbers go down. Right now, it’s packed with overtime.

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The Edmonton Police Department said as of Wednesday morning 194 employees were absent due to illness or isolation. Of these, 100 have tested positive for COVID-19: 77 sworn members, 22 civilians and one contractor.

EPS said 113 employees are expected to return to work within the next week, as long as their illnesses do not continue.

“Our increased isolation has challenged our organization, but we continue to assess and adjust our staff as needed to maintain frontline service delivery,” EPS said in a statement.

“EPS COVID-19 safety protocols continue to be evaluated in accordance with provincial COVID-19 restrictions and health guidance. With the increase in positive cases in Alberta, EPS continues to strengthen and evolve its service protocols for the safety of EPS employees and the public to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our employees and our environment. service delivery.

“We really appreciate the hard work of all of our employees as we go through this new wave of challenges. “

The city is reviewing service operations in light of staff shortages. If changes to services are needed, the city said Edmontonians would be notified as soon as possible.

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Earlier this week, isolation requirements changed for fully vaccinated Albertans.

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As of January 3, fully vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19 are only required to self-isolate for five days from onset of symptoms – shortened from the previous 10-day isolation period .

However, if the person’s symptoms do not go away after five days, they should continue to be isolated until they go away.

Once the person is released from isolation, they must continue to wear a mask at all times outside of their home for an additional five days.

Albertans who are not vaccinated should always self-isolate for 10 days.

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Isolation period for COVID-19 cases reduced from 10 days to 5 days for some in Alberta

Isolation period for COVID-19 cases reduced from 10 days to 5 days for some in Alberta

Health Minister Jason Copping announced the change last week to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, saying it was based on evidence that fully immune people have shorter infectious periods.

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Copping said it would prevent disruption to the workforce, especially for those providing important services.

He said discretionary exceptions could be granted to workers whose absence causes “a significant impact on public health.” In those cases, additional health measures would be put in place, Copping said.

The city of Edmonton said there are currently no essential workers it allows to return to work before their period of isolation is over, even though provincial rules allow it.

“We will reassess this decision if and when it becomes necessary,” the city said.

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The rate of active COVID-19 cases in Alberta skyrocketed over the weekend. As of Tuesday, there were 34,276 active cases reported in the province, although health officials said the actual number was much higher due to a change in testing protocols.

Albertans who show symptoms are now being asked to have a rapid home antigen test. If the result is positive, they should self-isolate. However, they are not required to report this positive test to Alberta Health.

Edmonton itself had 9,166 active cases reported as of Tuesday afternoon, although, again, health officials said the number of active cases reported was only the “tip of the iceberg.”

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