Another 1,112 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Alberta on Thursday — the highest single-day case total since May 15 — bringing the total number of active cases in the province up to 9,066.
Alberta leads the country in active cases, and infectious disease experts say this is beginning to look familiar.
“We’re pretty much on track to do exactly what we did last fall and this spring,” said Dr. Chris Mody, the head of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary.
“I don’t see any bending of the curve that would suggest that we’re going to see an earlier or lower peak than those two previous waves.”
Dr. Mody pointed out hospitalizations are also increasing at the same rate as the previous waves: 308 Albertans are currently in hospital, 64 of them are in intensive care.
ICU numbers are rising at a slower rate than the previous two waves, but Dr. Mody said Albertans still need to watch what’s happening.
“We are all at risk to some extent: people that are immunocompromised, have immune systems that don’t work as well as normal, they’re suffering under this.”
In the second and third waves, cases and hospitalizations continued to climb until the UCP government put additional restrictions in place.
When Premier Jason Kenney announced he would fully reopen the economy come July 1, he was clear he had no intention of moving backwards.
“This is open for good, not just open for summer,” Kenney said on June 18 when asked if he would reverse course, if Alberta saw cases and hospitalizations increase again.
“We just don’t see that scenario.”
Along with removing restrictions, the province is no longer notifying close contacts of positive cases or testing asymptomatic Albertans.
Mandatory isolation requirements were scheduled to end Aug. 16 and testing centres were due to be closed at the end of the month, but the province delayed those moves until Sept. 27 due to hospitalization numbers rising faster than expected.
“Not only does this allow us to do further monitoring, but it also gives us more time to increase vaccinations levels,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Aug. 13.
Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said it is time for the UCP to alter course.
“I don’t see how this could not be a wakeup call for Jason Kenney and his entire UCP government,” he said.
Shepherd has repeatedly called on Kenney or Health Minister Tyler Shandro to publicly address the rising case numbers and present Albertans with a plan to slow the spread.
NDP proposals include releasing internal government modelling that was promised two weeks ago, and provide more supports for school boards before students head back to the classroom.
Premier Kenney hasn’t spoken publicly since Aug. 9 and his office said he is on a two-week vacation.
“While the Premier is on holidays, he is of course still able to fully communicate with his Cabinet and senior officials as required,” spokesperson Jerrica Goodwin said in a statement.
“In fact, he has participated in numerous briefings on important subjects, including COVID-19, while on holidays.”
Goodwin added Premier Kenney’s vacation is due to end next week.