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Coronavirus: Health officials say there are 10 outbreaks in long-term care homes around Ontario

Ontario health officials say there are 10 outbreaks of coronavirus in long-term care homes across the province as facilities work to isolate those infected from healthy residents.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health, confirmed the number in a provincial update Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, Toronto’s Rekai Centre (Sherbourne Place) confirmed its first death, a man in his 60s with underlying health conditions.

In a statement, the centre said the man was diagnosed on Friday and was immediately put into isolation. He shared a room at the home.

“He had been isolated prior to that because we suspected he might have it due to symptoms, but he passed away last evening which has been devastating for his family and the staff that cared for him,” said Sue Graham-Nutter, CEO of the Rekai Centre.

The centre went on to confirm that there are three more residents who have tested positive and two others with tests pending.

“This virus moves very quickly as public health officials have been telling us and right now they’re all stable, thank god, but the virus does move fast and if they have underlying conditions, it can be very troubling,” Graham-Nutter said, adding the centre only has six private rooms and those are already filled.

She said they have been in discussions with the Ministry of Health about “various solutions” in regards to COVID-19 in long-term care homes, as well as with residents sharing rooms in the facilities.

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“We are well aware of the fact that sharing is not good,” Graham-Nutter said.

At the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., 12 residents and a volunteer have died due to coronavirus.

There have been two deaths and a number of residents confirmed positive at Hillsdale Terraces Long-term Care Home in Oshawa, Ont.

The home confirmed it had 28 residents in isolation, split between three units.

When asked about issues of outbreaks at long-term care homes, Yaffe said there have been new directives put in place that she hopes will help, but warned that these homes house a vulnerable population.

“I know our staff is working with the ministry of long-term care to do more education and training for long-term care staff and retirement home staff and working with public health as well,” Yaffe said.

“I’m hoping with the more aggressive measures that are being put in place and the more aggressive training and support, that hopefully we’ll pick up cases as quickly as possible and that we’ll prevent as much as possible.”

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, echoed Yaffe’s statement and said one of Toronto Public Health’s main objectives has been to “minimize the possibility of COVID-19 entering into long-term care settings.”

The city has said five long-term care homes have seen coronavirus outbreaks.

“Particularly with COVID-19, we’re always working, ensuring that infection protection and control measures are well applied in the long-term care setting because of the vulnerability of residents there,” de Villa continued.

De Villa went on to say that TPH works to ensure that those residents who have COVID-19 are “isolated to the extent they can be.”

“And each home we know has its own unique circumstances, but I can tell you that the team at TPH has been working around the clock with long-term care partners.”

De Villa said that any positive test at a home, whether it be a resident or staff member, is considered “very high priority.”

Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford extended the province’s state of emergency to April 13, while Toronto Mayor John Tory cancelled all events in the city through June 30, both in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Ontario had 1,966 total cases of coronavirus. Thirty-three people have died and 534 cases have been resolved.

With files from Matthew Bingley

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N.S. long-term care residents in isolation to prevent spread of COVID-19

All residents and staff at a long-term care facility in Enfield are being tested for COVID-19 after a staff member was tested positive on Sunday, and a second staff member along with two residents were also tested positive on Monday.

“All residents have been tested and we’re just waiting to get the tests back on those,” said Tracey Tulloch, a spokesperson for Rosecrest, which operates three long-term care facilities, including Magnolia.

“We do have one other resident who is symptomatic, but we’re waiting on the test results.”

The two staff are now offsite, self-isolating and dealing with their symptoms. Seven additional staff who worked directly with those who tested positive are also self-isolating.

In the meantime, the facility is receiving some help from the province through VON and other care workers to help replace the staff currently off due to self-isolation requirements.

“They can’t come back until the 14 days has passed,” said Tulloch, “even though they have tested negative at this point.”

Magnolia is currently a home to 82 people, 70 in long-term care and 12 in residential care. Residents are divided up into five cottages which houses 12-15 residents each.

The two residents who have tested positive are in their 80’s and both reside in the same cottage.

Tulloch says they are showing mild symptoms, and are being isolated.

“They are actually coping quite well,” said Tulloch.

The facility has been adhering to guidelines provided by public health officials to limit the spread of the virus. They no longer hold any communal events for residents, with physical distancing measures in place. They are focusing on hand washing and cleaning of high touch surface areas and all staff are wearing personal protective equipment.

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“Like any vulnerable sector, illness hits the elderly and immuno-compromised a little hard, so we want to contain this and flatten the curve within our own environment,” said Tulloch.

Meanwhile two other similar facilities in Nova Scotia have had workers test positive for COVID-19.

An employee who works at Lewis Hall in Dartmouth, part of Shannex’s Parkland at the Lakes retirement living community, has tested positive after being linked to another case in Halifax. The individual last worked on March 22 and has not been in the workplace since.

Lewis Hall in a Shannex Parkland at the Lakes retirement community in Dartmouth has also had staff member test posi… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Senior Vice President of Operations for Shannex, Catherine MacPherson says they have been working closely with Public Health and the 17 residents living in the neighbourhood where the employee worked were immediately put into isolation as a precaution. They were also all tested, and those tests came back negative on Sunday.

A second staff member was also tested after working closely with the individual who tested positive,  and is still waiting results. That member is also self-isolating.

In Antigonish, a staff member at RK MacDonald tested positive. An emailed statement from CEO of the nursing home, Michelle Thompson says they too are following health guidelines.

“We are working closely with Public Health and NSHA Infection Prevention and Control; staff are taking the appropriate infection control measures. This is something we take very seriously in order to protect our residents and our staff.”

Public Health officials are working with all three facilities, and continue to work with long-term care facilities and retirement communities across the province to limit the spread of COVID-19.

A number of measures have already been implemented including restricting access into facilities. Visitors are no longer allowed and residents are not allowed on community excursions.

Any staff who feel sick, or who have traveled must stay home, but Dr. Robert Strang admits it’s impossible to eliminate risk entirely as the staff live in communities.

“It’s concerning but I think we’ve done everything we could do to limit the possibility of introduction, and we do have robust plans in responding, as you’ve seen in the last few days, if we get COVID-19 in long-term care facilities,” said on Tuesday.

Strang says those robust plans are largely based on existing plans and guidelines already in place to deal with outbreaks of respiratory illnesses or influenza each year.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Coronavirus: City of Toronto cancels events through June 30, including Pride Parade

The City of Toronto has cancelled events through June 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic, including the annual Pride Parade.

Toronto Mayor John Tory made the announcement during an update on the city’s response to COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto is cancelling all city-led major events, festivals, conferences, and cultural programs and is also cancelling all city permits for major events organized by external groups,” Tory said.

“This is not an easy decision to make, but it is necessary to protect the public and to save lives … While we treasure many of these events and the important contribution they make to life in our city, protecting the health and safety of Toronto residents has to be our primary concern right now.”

Tory said Pride month in June will still be celebrated, but the annual Pride Parade has been cancelled.

“Many of these events of course involve thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people, and it is doubtful that the health environment will be where it needs to be on the originally-scheduled spring dates if these events are to happen in a healthy, safe, and stress-free way,” Tory said.

Pride Toronto responded to news of the City’s policy in a statement Tuesday.

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“Pride Toronto will no longer host the Festival Weekend on June 26-28th 2020,” the statement read.

“Our team is working hard to deliver Pride celebrations in new, creative, and unique ways that ensure safety and physical distancing … Any future programming will be in alignment with the recommendations of the public health authorities and the communities we serve.”

Sixty-five people are in hospital, with 33 in intensive care. Eight deaths have been reported in the city and 43 people are considered recovered.

Health officials attribute 25 per cent of the cases to community spread.

“We will only be able to get through this and reopen city buildings, businesses, playgrounds, restart our economy, get our festivals back and celebrate life in our city again by stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Tory said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Eileen de Villa said she was concerned with the number of people in the city who are not following physical distancing advice.

“I have been stating repeatedly the importance of physical distancing and I am truly disappointed that there continue to be people in our community who are simply not listening,” de Villa said.

“The only way we can reduce the spread of the virus is by staying home and away from other people …

“I am in active discussions with all of our partners about the potential for other increased measures and I will soon share what that means and what that looks like.”

Since March 24, officials have received 597 complaints related to the use of park amenities. Officials said education is their “first line of enforcement.”

Still, nine $750 tickets have been issued by police.

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Coronavirus: Crowds of more than five now on notice in Hamilton

The City of Hamilton has new enforcement powers after the province issued an emergency order banning social gatherings of more than five people.

Municipal bylaw officers, along with Hamilton Police, can now break up crowds of more than five and even have the ability to hand out fines of up to $750 per individual.

Paul Johnson, Hamilton’s emergency operations director, says the crackdown means the “persuasive approach” didn’t work to the degree needed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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Johnson adds that while the “vast majority” are taking this virus seriously, he was “dishearted” to hear about “tons of kids” playing in a suburban skate park over the weekend.

Johnson hopes we never get to the point of handing out tickets and making arrests, but he’s pleased that the city now has added “authority to go out and educate and be very clear with people.”

He says “you can still walk through a park” as long as you keep the right distance, but all leash-free dog parks and “communal or shared outdoor public or private recreational amenities” are now closed within the City of Hamilton.

The provincial government, based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued a new emergency order on Saturday under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. It prohibits organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people,

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7 new COVID-19 cases in PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador

There are three new cases of COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island, and four more in Newfoundland and Labrador, provincial officials said Tuesday.

That brings P.E.I.’s total to 21.

Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison said all three new cases are people who had travelled internationally and are self-isolating.

She said a man in Summerside has been fined $1,000 for failing to self-isolate.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial total is now 152.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the chief medical officer of health, said all the cases are in the Eastern Health authority.

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She said 11 people have been hospitalized due to the virus and two are in intensive care.

Municipal and privately-owned parks and campgrounds have been ordered to close but Fitzgerald said people should still exercise outside while keeping their distance from others.

As of March 31, there over 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada.  A total of 516 of those cases are people who have recovered, and 95 people who have died

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Montreal races to create more shelters for homeless people amid coronavirus crisis

The number of cases of the novel coronavirus continues to rise in Montreal, reaching 1,991 on Tuesday, up from 1,612 on Monday.

Social distancing measures put in place in a bid to contain the spread of the virus have made providing food and shelter to the city’s homeless population difficult.

On Friday, Mayor Valérie Plante declared a state of emergency, citing a need to protect the city’s most vulnerable amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She also announced that the city planned to open more temporary shelters in the coming days.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Plante provided an update on the measures that have been put in place since the beginning of the health crisis.

Two new temporary shelters — one for women and one for men — have been opened to cope with the reduced number of beds in regular shelters due to physical distancing rules.

Two day centres have been set up outside, one at Cabot Square and another at Parc Emilie-Gamelin, where people in need can get some food and rest for a bit under a tent.

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The former Royal Victoria Hospital, which served as an emergency overflow shelter in the winter months, is being transformed to house homeless people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are awaiting a diagnosis. Currently, those awaiting diagnosis are being housed in a hotel, while positive cases requiring treatment are being transferred to Notre-Dame hospital.

Plante said there are 24 sanitary blocks in the downtown area to help support the homeless community but despite all the measures, more needs to be done.

“Of course the needs remain huge and we don’t want to leave anyone behind,” she said.

To tackle the need for more beds, two new shelters will be opening this week: one at Bonsecours Market in Old Montreal with a capacity of 50 beds reserved for men and one at the Jean-Claude Malépart Centre in the Centre-Sud borough with 60 beds for both men and women. This will add to the 108 beds for men at Complexe Guy-Favreau and the 40 beds for women at the downtown YMCA.

The Royal Victoria will also be adding 100 units to provide shelter to the most vulnerable among the homeless population, including the elderly.

Three new outdoor day shelters — one at Place du Canada, one at Jeanne-Mance Park and the other outside the Francis Bouillon arena in Mercier-Hochelaga — were ready to welcome their new residents Tuesday afternoon.

The various shelters and day centres are being operated by community partners, including Resilience Montreal, the Old Brewery Mission and Mission Bon Accueil.

Plante said those on the front lines providing services to homeless people have not been forgotten.

“There is a first delivery of protection material as well as sanitary material that will be distributed to ensure the protection of workers,” she said.

She concluded by saying that the current health crisis cannot be allowed to turn into a humanitarian crisis as well.

“Everyone counts, everybody must be safe, everyone must have a shelter,” she said. “That’s why we are working so hard to find solutions quickly.”

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Coronavirus: 20 new cases identified, bringing Nova Scotia total to 147

Twenty new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Nova Scotia, bringing the provincial total to 147.

In a news release Tuesday, the province said “most” cases are connected to travel or a known case.

There are now four staff and two residents of long-term care facilities that have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Appropriate infection prevention and control measures are in place for both residents and staff,” the province said.

The individuals affected range in age from under ten to over 80. Four individuals are currently in hospital and 10 have now recovered.

Cases have been identified in all parts of the province. To date, Nova Scotia has 5,763 negative test results.

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On Monday, Premier Stephen McNeil announced school closures will be extended to at least May 1. Students from Grade Primary to nine will receive bi-weekly at-home learning packages, while Grade 10 to 12 students will work with their teachers to address their individual needs.

The province also announced Monday that it has its first case of COVID-19 that is the result of spread within the community.

McNeil and chief public health officer Dr. Robert Strang will hold a press briefing on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Coronavirus: 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Guelph

There are now 13 people in Guelph believed to have contracted COVID-19, according to public health officials.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health provided numbers on Monday that shows the number of cases in the Royal City has grown by 12 since the last update on Friday.

Another five confirmed cases are being reported in Wellington County and eight in Dufferin County.

An additional two cases are now considered resolved.

Public Health said among the 26 confirmed cases in their jurisdiction, 17 were reported within the last 48 hours and three are in hospital.

Two cases were transmitted from travel, six from contact with a COVID-19 case, two through community transmission and 17 have not yet been assigned.

The numbers do not include four healthcare workers at Guelph General Hospital who tested positive for COVID-19 because they live outside of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s jurisdiction.

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The hospital has declared an outbreak in the ward where the four staff members worked, which led to Mayor Cam Guthrie declaring a state of emergency.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Premier Doug Ford warns medical supply shortage may loom with surge in COVID-19 cases

TORONTO – Ontario reported 351 new COVID-19 cases Monday, the province’s largest single-day increase by far, as Premier Doug Ford warned that a shortage of critical medical supplies may be perilously close.

Officials are “working every contact we have” to secure more equipment such as masks and gloves for front-line workers, Ford said, but the more time Ontario gets to prepare, the more lives will be saved.

“It will take time for local production to ramp up and for new supplies to reach us,” Ford said.

“The reality is if there’s a massive surge of people coming into our hospitals in the next two weeks, our supply lines will be seriously challenged.”

About 10 per cent of people in the province who have tested positive for COVID-19 so far have been hospitalized, provincial figures show.

The new total of cases in the province is now at 1,706 – including 431 resolved cases and 33 deaths.

Seven of the province’s deaths have been in one nursing home in Bobcaygeon, which the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit believes is the largest outbreak in the province.

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At least 24 staff members are infected, with another 10 awaiting test results.

Three residents at Pinecrest Nursing Home tested positive and since then, more than 30 other residents developed symptoms, though they have not been tested – per provincial guidelines – since the virus was already confirmed to be in the facility.

Another person in the community has died in a case linked to the nursing home.

Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said she is looking at more intense screening for long-term care homes and more advanced ways to isolate people infected at those facilities.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health strongly recommended Monday that everyone in the province – especially people over 70 and with compromised immune systems – stay home except for essential reasons.

“The lives of many Ontarians, especially our community’s most vulnerable citizens, (are) in your hands and will depend on your actions over the coming days and weeks,” Dr. David Williams said in a statement.

Ford reiterated Monday that he is prepared to take further action, lamenting that he saw “the streets were packed” on the previous day’s sunny afternoon, but that he is waiting for advice from Williams.

Ford also said he would be extending the state of emergency, which had been set to expire Tuesday, and orders many facilities closed, including daycares, libraries, and bars and restaurants except to do take-out or delivery.

Officials attribute the surge in new cases Monday at least in part to clearing a backlog of pending test results.

Several days ago there were nearly 11,000 people waiting for their results, but that started to come down as the province added more testing capacity. As of Monday the number stood at 5,651.

The number of resolved cases had been stuck at eight for many days, but health officials had said to expect a large jump once the data caught up to a new definition for resolved.

The increase in the number of resolved cases to 431 also means there are actually fewer active COVID-19 cases in Ontario – 1,252 – than the 1,324 that Sunday’s data had indicated.

A new reporting format from the province also shows that more than 61 per cent of all cases are in the Greater Toronto Area.

Information on how people became infected is still pending for nearly half of all cases in Ontario. About 16 per cent are attributed to community spread, 26 per cent to recent travel, and nearly 10 per cent to close contact with another confirmed case.

The median age of people infected is 50, with cases ranging in age from under one year old to 100 years old.

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Some Lethbridge churches amp up online Sunday services during COVID-19 crisis

Religious institutions are temporarily closed to the public as restrictions on mass gatherings have been put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta.

But that hasn’t stopped weekly Sunday services from taking place through online streaming.

Both the Evangelical Free Church of Lethbridge and MyVictory Church have been live streaming their services for a few years now. However, due to COVID-19, they’ve had to tailor the service for an audience that is entirely online now.

“It’s a big change for us, but it’s exciting too. We do consider that we used to be speaking to 200 to 400 people at a time and now we have an opportunity to speak to just individuals,” said Geoff Heth, the lead pastor at the E-free Church.

“So, we’ve had to change the format of what we’ve done. We used to have 30 to 35 minutes of just us speaking, but now we are breaking it up into segments,” Heth adds.

He goes on to say the church decided to break up the service so that the viewers would have a chance to talk about the material with their families, friends, or whoever they may be watching with at home.

Mike Dosso, the technical director at the church, has helped at least three other congregations in places as far away as Saskatchewan set up their online service. He said the churches reached out to him through a mutual contact or through Facebook groups.

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“It ranges a lot — either from setting up video switchers, projection software, and making all of that stuff play nicely,” he said. “There are a lot of churches out there that don’t have the personnel or the the equipment like we do.”

Dosso said since the church has already been live streaming their services for three years now, it didn’t take much to change things up for an audience that is strictly online now.

“We did move a lot of equipment around, we had to hang some lights, set up some sounds and video equipment, honestly it wasn’t a huge shift for us to move to a setup like this,” Dosso explained. “We’re really blessed to have the tech resources,” he said.

MyVictory church says its messages remain unchanged despite not being able to physically meet with fellow church goers.

“We’ve got five things we ask people to do: we ask them to attend, we ask them to connect, we ask them to serve, we ask them to give, and we ask them to invite,” said Ralph Molyneux, the pastor at MyVictory churches.

“It’s really not about our building at all; the building is just where we happen to meet… we can still do those things,” Molyneux said.

He added that during times of uncertainty and high anxiety, keeping faith and finding purpose both inside and outside the church can help people.

“We’ve been putting in a lot of effort to keep our congregation – which is in five different cities – now stay connected by setting up a Facebook group, Zoom… to keep everyone connected,” said Kelly Stickel, lead pastor at the MyVictory church.

Stickel said the church has never had to go through anything like this before, however, since the church has been livestreaming its services for the past five years, he said it was prepared for the technical challenges.

“We pre-recorded a bunch of the music beforehand, because we saw what was happening in Washington first, and then the rest of North America, we knew there were going to be restrictions on large people gathering,” he said.

Stickel said a lot of the content they pre-recorded involved many production staff having to gather together.

He adds that keeping people connected right now is the more challenging feat.

The two organizations have been teaming up with MyCityCare Lethbridge to help provide the distribution of food supplies, clothing, and other donations throughout the community.

The churches said they also want to help make sure seniors are receiving the extra care they need during this pandemic as many of them are undergoing long periods of self-isolation and physical distancing.

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