CALGARY -- The Town of Banff says the mountain community is in mourning after a 43-year-old man reportedly died from the disease last week.

On the town's Facebook page, Mayor Karen Sorensen shared news of the fatality and her condolences with the family of Ron Giesbrecht.

"On behalf of Banff town council, our town administration and the residents of Banff, I want to express our sincere sympathies to the family of Ron Giesbrecht," said Mayor Karen Sorensen.

"Any time we have a death in our community, it has a big impact. This is a friend, a family member, a co-worker, a contributor to our community who we have lost."

She went on to say Giesbrecht was a long-time resident of Banff and was "widely known" in the community.

"He was a healthy young man who had recently started a new venture, Rundle Mountain Ink, to make a whole batch of new friends and customers in Banff," she said.

"This is such a tragedy, showing COVID can strike anyone, at any age. Ron will be missed but not forgotten."


Justin Giesbrecht, Ron's cousin, says they were very close growing up.

"Our family was super close. It's tough, it's really tough when you lose someone who is close to you. I don't know what the next step is for his family," he told CTV News in an interview.

Justin says Ron died just days after the onset of the symptoms of the disease.

"It was three days after minor symptoms and he passed away with breathing problems," he said. "He was found Thursday morning."

The family's COVID-19 battle isn't over either because Ron's brother is in hospital with severe symptoms.

"I talked to him the other day and his parents talked to him. He's doing pretty good but he'll still be in the hospital for a bit with quarantine. It's unfortunate because we can't speak to him in person, obviously."

In the meantime, Justin says he was just shocked at the news of Ron's death and it convinced him to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"My cousin was 43, I'm 41, I'm not taking the chance. Everybody has a choice in this. For me, when it hits home like this, I'm getting vaccinated."

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In her address, Sorensen expressed her concern for the pandemic situation facing the Calgary zone, which includes her community.

"We have hospitalization rates approaching full capacity," she said. "This is precisely why we urge everyone to follow the restrictions and health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"We cannot stray from the behaviours to keep us safe."

Sorensen added Giebrecht is the first Banff resident to die of COVID-19.

"We join the long list of communities that have lost one of their own to this global pandemic."