COVID-19 cases rising in County of Warner: ‘Our schools are over-capacity’

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The County of Warner now has one of the highest active case rates per 100,000 people in the province. As Erik Bay reports, officials are urging residents to follow health measures to curb the spread.

Despite its size, the County of Warner currently has 1,009 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, making it the Alberta Health local geographic area (LGA) with the fourth-highest active case rate in the province.

The only LGAs with a higher rate are Fort McMurray, Lac La Biche and Barrhead.

County officials say the cases stem from a familiar source.

Read more: Schools go online as Alberta adds more COVID-19 restrictions for 3 weeks

“The indication that we’re getting is that primary transmission is still in the home, family gatherings and private visitations,” Jamie Anderson, regional director of emergency management with the County of Warner, said.

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Raymond, Alta., Mayor Jim Depew, located within the County of Warner south of Lethbridge, believes transmission in schools is also contributing to the high case count.

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“Our schools are over-capacity and we have large families in the town,” Depew said. “When someone brings it into the schools, obviously it’s going home in those large families.”

Read more: Alberta doctors say province heading to 300 COVID-19 patients in ICU by end of May

Depew said some people in Raymond continue to take the pandemic seriously but other have grown tired of restrictions, calling it a “tough 13 months.”

“We just lost a son of Raymond on Sunday night — a 47-year-old man that grew up here, that everybody knew,” Depew said.

The county is not planning on introducing any restrictions stronger than the current provincial health measures, but the situation will be closely monitored.

Read more: Alberta’s current COVID-19 status worse than every province and state: Former top doctor

“That would be looking at different case thresholds within the county and additionally within our staff base,” said Anderson. “Knowing what measures we would take to maintain services in those times, but again following the lead from Alberta Health Services.”

The County of Warner implores residents to limit gatherings and remain socially distanced.

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