Lamont County Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Lamont County Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

Heather Atkinson, Communications Coordinator for Lamont County, said it wasn’t confirmed what county building the employee who had contracted COVID-19 worked in.

That information was written in a news article that ran in the July 22 edition of the Lamont Leader. In that article Atkinson also stated, “Lamont County has been working closely with Alberta Health Services, (AHS), to ensure we are following all appropriate protocols.”

Atkinson was asked by New Advertiser Reporter whether Lamont County has ever issued a public advisory on a cases(s) of COVID-19 since the outbreak began? In a July 20 email, Atkinson replied, “No, the county does not report positive test cases on the county website or through media releases. To do so would just be to mirror the AB government’s reporting and be redundant.

As far as I have seen, this is the protocol being followed by other counties. The only time we would make that kind of report is if we had a case within County Staff after our doors have been opened and there was risk to residents.  Of course, this would change if the situation became bad enough that we had to declare a public health emergency and needed to direct residents to take certain actions.”

She also stated, “At this time, since our doors are still closed to the public and contact with the public is extremely minimal and pre-screened, we won’t issue any advisories re: cases in Lamont County. In this manner, we are relying on the Alberta Government’s reports for communicating cases in the community, to ensure accuracy and timeliness of reporting.  If any positive cases of COVID-19 are identified in county staff after we open doors and have contact with the public again, then yes we would issue a statement and contact any members of the public who visited during the applicable time period.”

Atkinson pointed out, “The county employee followed protocol, self-isolated when developed symptoms, and informed Lamont County Human Resources, (HR) when the test came back positive. All staff and council were informed of the positive result by HR. Everyone in contact with the ill person was contacted by AHS and required to get tested. They were required to isolate for 10 days, regardless of results.”

All county employees were informed that one of the employees had tested positive for COVID-19 through an internal memo on July 10. The memo went on to state, “All employees who were in close contact with this individual have been contacted and sent home for testing. At this time, no further information regarding the employee will be disclosed to protect their right to privacy.”

The administration building has been closed to the public since the beginning of March.Our pandemic protocols have us restrict people as much as possible coming into the building. No ratepayers have been allowed inside the building for signing of documents or making payments. All payments are being taken online, or by cheque through mail or our dropbox. All programs that required meeting with the public, such as equipment rental, have been suspended.

Because we are legislatively required to allow access to council meetings, we have opened our doors for that reason; however, all council meetings have also been held online with the public encouraged to join remotely. Council chose to have the doors open to allow those ratepayers without internet the opportunity to participate.”

Anyone who attended meetings was required to physically distance, use hand sanitizer, wear masks, register, and fill out a questionnaire when they entered the administration building

Back on July 13, the Town of Lamont posted an advisory on its website stating, “We are sorry to hear an individual in the region has contracted COVID-19, we wish them a speedy recovery and that their family members remain safe and healthy.”

We cannot comment on any specific case due to patient confidentiality.

Tom McMillan, Assistant Director of Communications for Alberta Health said it is up to each municipality as to whether they post or publish information about an employee(s) who test positive for COVID-19.

“Anytime a case is identified, health officials take swift action. AHS immediately begins conducting contact tracing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Anyone at risk is contacted, isolated and tested as soon as possible.

Health officials may notify and work with employers, depending on the specific case circumstances and where there is a risk of exposure. This generally occurs when there is a risk of other individuals at or linked to the worksite being exposed.

Health officials will take whatever steps are needed to protect the public health. When appropriate, this may include working with employers to provide assistance around cleaning, facilitating testing, or offering other supports.

Employers and businesses may choose to take additional steps as they see fit,” stated McMillan.