SL homeless shelter COVID outbreak; at-home learning

Pearl Lorentzen

Lakeside Leader

The Slave Lake homeless shelter has a COVID-19 outbreak. Also, schools run by First Nations paused in-class learning. 


The first COVID case at the shelter was on Jan. 19, said Homeless Coalition coordinator Jule Asterisk at the Feb. 4 meeting. An outbreak was declared on Jan. 28. As of Feb. 4, there had been 14 cases connected with the shelter (eight guests and six staff). Up until Jan. 30, the homeless isolated in hotel rooms in Slave Lake. Now, staff drive positive guests to isolation facilities in Edmonton or Peace River. The cost is covered by a provincial grant. The Coalition is looking for a local isolation facility.  

The homeless shelter COVID outbreak is not listed on, which is limited to health care, senior’s facilities and other high risk locations. 

The week of Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, two outbreaks were added in close neighbours of Slave Lake: High Prairie and Whitecourt. In the M.D. of Lesser Slave River (LSR) and its closest neighbours, there were 12 outbreaks (see list at end of article). Most outbreaks are in seniors facilities, except acute care in Westlock and the Slave Lake shelter. 

On Feb. 3, Vanderwell Heritage Place released an outbreak update. The Jan. 31 COVID tests showed no positive residents, but two staff. On Feb. 3, only one resident was still in isolation and expected to be out on Feb. 5. The next batch of tests were to be Feb. 7. 


Swan River First Nation School was closed from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, says a letter to parents from SRFN School. The shift was because of “rising cases of COVID-19 in the community.”

On Feb. 3, Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority (KTCEA) announced its schools would do at-home learning until further notice.

KTCEA runs seven schools on reserves north of Slave Lake.


COVID cases from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4 (active on Feb. 4)

  • LSR – 73 active (32 new & 42 recovered) – three outbreaks: Vanderwell Heritage Place, continuing care, and homeless shelter (new).
  • Big Lakes County – 89 active (56 new & 36 recovered) – one outbreak (new).
  • Westlock County – 91 active (40 new & 62 recovered) – four outbreaks.
  • M.D. of Opportunity – 79 active (32 new & 24 recovered) – one outbreak.
  • Woodlands County – three active (three new & three recovered).
  • Whitecourt – 71 active (49 new & 15 recovered) – one outbreak (new).
  • Athabasca County – 82 active (37 new & 31 recovered) – two outbreaks. 
  • Northern Sunrise County – 24 active (12 new & 13 recovered).
From Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, six people died from COVID-19 in the AHS North Zone COVID-19. These people were from the M.D. of Peace, City of Grande Prairie, Grande Prairie County, City of Cold Lake, Lac Ste. Anne County, and Smoky Lake County. Graph built by Leader staff with statistics from

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