SASKATOON -- Check back throughout the day for the latest on COVID-19 in Saskatoon and area.

If you're concerned you might be infected with COVID-19, the Saskatchewan COVID-19 self assessment tool is a helpful resource.

Also, here's advice on how to practice physical/social distancing and how to properly self-isolate at home. 

97 active COVID-19 cases in Saskatoon 

As of April 8, the provincial government says there have been 271 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan. Out of the 271 cases 165 are presently considered active.

Saskatoon's total number of cases sits at 135, the highest concentration of cases in the province. Of the city's 135 cases, 97 are considered active.

Regina is home to the next-highest concentration of cases, 56 so far with 28 of those cases still considered active.

Five COVID-19 patients in Saskatoon are receiving treatment in hospital with one patient in an intensive care unit.

A different birthday

A man from Marcelin who has Apert Syndrome and is on the autism spectrum is celebrating his 23rd birthday a little differently this year due to COVID-19.

Ethan Verbonac’s mother, Krista, and his grandmother put together a birthday parade so he could celebrate his special day at a distance.

“We had family and friends drive by and we had all of Ethan’s favourite things. We had the police, we had a tow truck, we had a semi and we had our town maintenance equipment. We have such a supportive community. They care for Ethan so much,” Krista said.

The celebration felt “good,” Ethan said.

Ethan and Krista Verbonac

Saskatoon patient 'surge' plan released

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) plans to free up more than 1,500 beds in Saskatoon for a potential surge in acute patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"SHA services will adapt and expand to meet the projected COVID‐19 patient demand, while continuing to deliver essential services to non‐COVID‐19 patients throughout the duration of the event," according to the SHA's COVID-19 readiness plan, released publicly on Wednesday.

If required 1,266 beds could be used for COVID-19 patients, with another 301 reserved for non-COVID-19 patients.

In-person assistance for people who are homeless, vulnerable

A group of community organizations have banded together to set up a makeshift social assistance hub at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge on 20th Street West.

“We knew the community still needed some level of service but we wanted to make sure we could do that in a safe manner and wasn’t going to spread COVID-19,” said AIDS Saskatoon executive director Jason Mercredi.

saskatoon covid-19 hub

Local businesses feel rent pressure

Many local businesses in Saskatoon are being given little choice but to pay rent for their storefronts while they are shut down.

With non-essential services ordered to close at the end of March, business owners are now dealing with an indefinite future of little to no income - but rental payments loom.

Anthony Graham-Cutts owns Anthony’s Fashion and his rental payment was taken out of his bank account at the start of April as usual despite efforts to work with his landlord while business has dropped by 75 per cent.

Lacrosse season over

The National Lacrosse League has cancelled the remainder of its 2019-20 regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league said in a release Wednesday that officials are "looking at any number of scenarios to return to play when all stakeholders and health officials deem that possible," but added there is no timeline on when decisions will be made.

The league suspended play on March 12 with seven weeks left to play in the 22-week season.

The NLL has 13 teams, including five Canadian teams based in Toronto, Saskatoon, Halifax, Vancouver and Calgary.

'Saskatchewan is not immune'

The Saskatchewan Health Authority estimates anywhere from 153,000 to 408,000 Saskatchewan residents will be infected by COVID-19 in its models released on Wednesday.

The “upper-range” scenario includes 408,000 cases and 8,370 deaths. The “mid-range” scenario estimates 262,000 cases with 5,260 deaths. Finally, the “low-range” scenario predicts 153,000 infections and 3,075 deaths.

“As we enter a new month, the reality is hitting home — Saskatchewan is not immune,” the report said. “We can expect more cases and deaths.”

Easter Sunday will be different during COVID-19

"This is our holy day, and we really, really want to be united," says Father Stefano Penna at St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral.

Like many houses of worship, St. Paul’s has taken to the internet during the pandemic; streaming their services to deliver messages of comfort for those who need it.

“This is the sadness — we believe in a God who came down, not just to give us ideas and principles, but to love us by touching us, and we meet that in community,” Penna said

'You could see the transition'

COVID-19 is hitting close to home for James Smith Cree Nation members. A letter notifying members of a positive case in the community was delivered on Sunday.

"The day before we got word of the case, people were talking face-to-face. Then all of a sudden, when word got out that we had a case, you could see the transition — now they’re 10 feet apart," Chief Wally Burns said.

COVID-19 public notice

Health Authority to release COVID-19 projections

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will be releasing its modelling on COVID-19 in the province at 11:30 a.m.

Premier Scott Moe said the briefing will show modelling scenarios on the impact of COVID-19. The SHA will also share its surge capacity plan.

The briefing will be livestreamed on our website.

Tuesday recap

As of Apri 7, the province said there were seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.

On Tuesday the total number of confirmed cases in the province now sits at 260, 169 are considered active.

The province said seven more people recovered from the virus, which brought the total number of known recoveries to 88.

The provincial government also offered  some suggestions for celebrating Easter safely  during the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly don't have people from outside your household over for dinner. 

The phone calls and emails are pouring in according to Saskatoon mortgage broker Chris Kolinski, who runs an independent brokerage. He said  many are asking about options for payment deferrals.

A photo captured by the Saskatoon Police Service Aerial Support Unit and shared on social media sums up how probably most people are feeling in the city these days.