The cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Lethbridge. On Tuesday, the city landed on the province’s “watch” list, which happens when a region has at least 10 active cases and more than 50 active cases per 100,000 population.
As of Wednesday, there were 112 active cases in Lethbridge — or 113.1 cases per 100,000 population.
“Basically the watch means we have hit 50 per capita,” said Luke Palmer, the Emergency Preparedness Manager with the city. “At this point, once we hit 50, we were moved into the watch category.”
A number of outbreaks have been declared at businesses and organizations in the area.
According to Alberta Health, the outbreaks include:
- Extendicare Fairmont Park, Lethbridge: 2 cases (both active)
- Lethbridge Family Services: 6 cases (4 active, 2 recovered)
- Children’s House Child Care Society, Lethbridge: 18 cases (all active)
- Lethbridge Coalhurst Good News Centre, Coalhurst: 42 cases (26 active, 16 recovered)
- Meridian Manufacturing, Lethbridge: 10 cases (8 active, 2 recovered)
- Cavendish Farms, Lethbridge: 10 cases (all active)
“Some of those are asymptomatic, everyone is at home self isolating and we have identified those who would have been in close contact with those folks at the plant, so they are self isolating,” said Mary Keith, VP of communications for J.D. Irving, Limited and Cavendish Farms.
She added employees at the facility have been wearing masks since Oct. 6.
A planned maintenance shutdown was already underway when the cases began, with manufacturing operations paused on Friday, Oct. 9 and set to resume on Monday, Oct. 19.
Meridian manufacturing issued a statement which said it acted “quickly and aggressively” as soon as the first cases were discovered in early October.
The company added Alberta Health Services confirmed with it that the first cases were the result of community transmission.
“We sent co-workers for testing and required them to self-isolate in accordance with AHS guidelines.
“All employees who can work remotely were instructed to do so again. We reinforced social distancing, the use of masks and other safety measures on our plant floor to protect our workers.
“Despite all our safety protocols, some of our people have still tested positive, indicating some workplace transmission,” said Derek Neil, senior vice president of Meridian Manufacturing Inc.
Mayor Chis Spearman said this latest spike should be a wake-up call for everyone.
“I’m not passing judgement, I’m saying let’s all double down as a community, including places of employment. Let’s make sure we are following the best possible practices in keeping each other safe in every condition.”
Alberta Health updates its outbreak list on Tuesdays and Fridays.