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Incident Command Post deactivated as COVID cases fall

Olds ICP activated three times during the pandemic and staff will continue to monitor COVID in town
mvt Olds town office-2
the Olds ICP was activated from March 16-March 30, 2020, Dec. 1, 2020-March 2 this year and April 1-June 14 this year as well. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — The town has deactivated its Incident Command Post (ICP), which had been activated three times to help the community deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Acting director of emergency management Jennifer Lutz made that announcement during town council’s June 14 meeting.

Lutz said that action was being taken immediately on June 14 to free up staff for regular duties because COVID case counts had fallen (as of June 14) to four in Olds and five in Mountain View County. On May 3, there were as many as 123 COVID cases in Olds and surrounding area.

Lutz said the Olds ICP was activated from March 16-March 30, 2020, Dec. 1, 2020-March 2 this year and April 1-June 14 this year as well.

“We think we can monitor (the COVID situation) with our regular emergency management team without having the ICP activated,” she said.

“Like everybody, we’re fairly relieved that COVID is starting to make a lot of progress and doesn’t deserve the attention it’s been getting with staff resources and everybody’s participation with health measures.”

Lutz said Olds entered Stage 2 of the provincial government’s reopening plan on June 10 “quite smoothly” as several town-owned facilities reopened. She predicted that Stage 3 will occur at the end of June or July, “based on vaccination numbers.” 

As of June 2 in the province, 68.7 per cent per cent of eligible Albertans had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Lutz said 54.6 per cent of eligible Olds residents had received at least one shot, “which for a rural area is quite high.”

“Second doses in the province were 20.2 (per cent) and in Olds second doses were 19 per cent, so we’re quite in line with the province there,” she added. 

Several councillors thanked Lutz and town staff as a whole for the role they’ve played in running the ICP and keeping the town safe during the COVID outbreak.

"I can’t say that I’m not happy that you’re shutting down, but that comes with sort of that light at the end of the tunnel, that it looks like we’re going to be clear of this situation quite soon,” Mayor Mike Muzychka said.

“Thank you Mrs. Lutz and your entire team. And all of the staff of the town of Olds has been phenomenal throughout this whole process. Everybody stepped up to the plate and (did) what was necessary to take care of business,” he added.

“I think this town has run incredibly smoothly through this time, much more so than maybe other communities.” 

Lutz said throughout the pandemic, town staff have been working on a report on the outbreak and the operation of the ICP which will be presented to council.

“That’s awesome (that) you’re doing that," he said. “That’s the biggest thing: what we’ve learned and how we can improve for something else that may come down the pipe; excellent.”

Lutz agreed, saying it’s been tough to stay on top of “a hundred million different public health changes and measures” that quickly occurred during the pandemic.

"I know it wasn’t perfect, but we did the best we could with the resources we had," Lutz said.

There are lots of opportunities for youth and adults to participate in sports and other leisure activities now that the town has successfully entered Stage 2 of the province’s COVID reopening plan, manager of community services Michelle LaRoche says.

She said the Aquatic Centre is open, although subject to restrictions. Lacrosse is underway in the Sportsplex and venues for activities like baseball and softball are “fully booked.”

"I notice that our splash park has been very, very popular over the last little bit. It's good to see the families out there enjoying summer-type weather,” Muzychka said.