The City of Red Deer announced Friday that a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and the resulting strain on the health-care system has prompted it to declare a state of local emergency.
The move came two days after Alberta declared a state of public health emergency over the pandemic’s fourth wave and Premier Jason Kenney announced new public health restrictions, including a vaccine passport program.
As of Saturday afternoon, the government’s website listed the city of Red Deer as having the 36th highest active case rate per 100,000 people among 112 regions. Red Deer has a population of 106,395 and currently has 680 active COVID-19 cases.
“The state of local emergency gives the city access to additional resources and special powers under the Emergency Management Act, including personnel from other orders of government if required,” the city said in a news release. “The state of local emergency will be in place up to 60 days.
“The COVID-19 pandemic remains a dynamic situation. City administration is continuing to review the impacts of the most recent restrictions on city services and will provide an update once details are available.”
The number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions in Alberta has been rising dramatically in recent weeks. As of Friday afternoon, Alberta Health said the province had 19,201 active coronavirus cases and noted 911 people are in Alberta hospitals with COVID-19, 215 of which are in ICUs.
At a news conference on Wednesday night, Kenney indicated the province’s health-care system was at risk of collapse.
“We may run out of staff and intensive care beds within the next 10 days,” he said.
Alberta Health Services president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said this week that as hospitals are stretched thin, efforts to increase surge capacity are ongoing and she has reached out to counterparts in other provinces to see if they are able to accommodate Alberta patients or send staff to Alberta if the situation deteriorates to a point where such action is necessary.
Earlier this month, an emergency room physician at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre said that the facility was already seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, causing a “strain to the system.”
“(Cases) more than doubled in the last week, our ICU is at capacity and they’re adding more each day,” Dr. John Colebrook said on Sept. 3.
“We are seeing that the vast majority of the people coming in that are sick with COVID are definitely unvaccinated.”
Watch below: Some recent videos about the COVID-19 situation in Alberta.
According to the Alberta government, the province’s daily COVID-19 vaccine numbers nearly tripled on Thursday, one day after the vaccine passport program was announced.
The province administered 28,158 doses of COVID vaccine on Thursday. To compare, 9,750 doses were administered on Wednesday.
For more information about the City of Red Deer’s response to COVID-19, click here.
–With files from Global News’ Nicole Stillger and 630 CHED’s Kirby Bourne