As she announced Monday that the coronavirus pandemic had claimed eight more lives in the province, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health also stood by the pace of the province’s relaunch and said for now there are no plans to again close sectors of the economy that have been reopened.
“We are not at a place where we would be thinking about going backwards at this time,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw told reporters at a news conference in Edmonton. The province has been in Stage 2 of its relaunch since June 12 but has seen an uptick in confirmed COVID-19 cases this month.
“Health is about more than the avoidance of COVID-19,” Hinshaw said, explaining that when virtually the entire economy was shut down in the spring, there were detrimental impacts on people’s mental health, much of that brought on by unemployment. “We need to be able to balance these things.
“I believe that we can move forward successfully.”
She said that while there are already rules and guidelines in place for non-essential businesses to operate amid the ongoing pandemic, her team is also currently “working on a more assertive approach to reminding businesses of the need to follow that guidance.”
Hinshaw said her team and the government continue to analyze various metrics including cases requiring hospitalization and hospital capacity when determining when it’s safe to move forward with Alberta’s relaunch.
Of the eight new deaths announced Monday, Alberta Health said five were linked to a coronavirus outbreak at Edmonton’s Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre, one was linked to the Blue Sky Lodge in Lethbridge, one was a man in his 80s from the South zone and the other was a woman in her 80s from the Edmonton zone.
Hinshaw said news of the latest fatalities were “heartbreaking” and she offered her condolences to the loved ones of those who died.
“There are real people behind these numbers,” she said.
Since Friday, Alberta has also recorded 304 additional COVID-19 cases.
“The curve is no longer flat in Alberta,” Hinshaw said, adding that the novel coronavirus is just waiting for people to forget to wash their hands or keep their social distance and that people cannot afford to become complacent about strictly adhering to public health recommendations during a pandemic.
“The truth is, though, that COVID-19 is still here. You may remember a few months ago I talked about COVID-19 as a wall of water heading towards us. Our public health measures are the barrier that keeps this wall from landing on us with full force. We can tolerate some gradual streams of cases as long as they stay gradual. What we need to prevent is a scenario where the breaches get so large that we become swamped with cases that overwhelm our system. This can happen quickly if we let our guard down.”
Hinshaw said “it is within our control to get our case numbers moving in a positive direction.”
“We can get back to where we were just a month ago when we moved forward with relaunch because our active case numbers were low,” she said. “Every step we take as individuals to stop the spread is a step in the direction of health and safety for everyone.”
Latest COVID-19 numbers in Alberta
Of the eight new COVID-19 deaths in Alberta, Hinshaw said all but one occurred in the past four days.
With 304 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, Alberta now has 1,430 active cases. Of those, 88 involve people in hospital and 17 of those are in intensive care units.
The Calgary zone had the highest number of active cases in the province on Monday afternoon (730) followed by the Edmonton zone (279).
Since the pandemic first hit Alberta in March, the province has recorded a total of 10,390 COVID-19 cases. Of those, 8,774 have recovered.
To date, 1,516 cases have an unknown exposure.
In all, 186 deaths in Alberta have been linked to COVID-19.
As of Monday afternoon, the province had conducted a total of 651,335 coronavirus tests on people. Over 27,000 of those tests were conducted over the weekend.
In total, 547,785 Albertans have been tested for the virus.
On Monday, Hinshaw also announced a new online risk assessment tool that has been created to help Albertans identify their level of risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes “and to guide your protection decisions.”
She said the assessment tool will be made available for people in the province at alberta.ca.
On Monday, Alberta Health said the ABTraceTogether app, which is aimed at helping the province with contact tracing efforts, has 229,979 registered users.
View link »