Too often I see responses like “only X is at risk for severe outcomes” to Covid numbers. It’s not completely untrue, even though it is a shocking dismissal of our neighbours.
Alberta is seeing a steady rise in infections, hospitalizations, and admittance to intensive care units. In the last month, the number of people in ICUs has more than tripled, from 24 on October 30 to 95 on November 30. Again, it doesn’t make it less true that some of our neighbours are more at risk than others.
But Albertans who don’t have Covid were affected in October when Edmonton hospitals postponed surgeries due to rapidly increasing infection rates.
Some of those hospitals are currently turning operating and recovery rooms into space for Covid patients.
No knee surgeries, no hip replacements – just space for Covid patients.
But we can still go to the bar and have a beer after work.
The infection numbers continue to rise with Alberta reaching a new record on Monday with 1,733 new cases. For comparison, Ontario, with three times the population of Alberta, reported 1,746 on the same day.
Alberta has 453 people in hospital to Ontario’s 618.
Two weeks ago, on November 16, Alberta had 267 people in hospital and 57 in ICU.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, noted that every positive case has approximately 15 close contacts in the previous two weeks. Over the past 10 days, Alberta has consistently seen over 1,000 cases, or more than 150,000 contacts.
Dr. Hinshaw also informed us contact tracing had broken down. At that point, she said contact tracers were trying to start fresh with recent infections and if people had tested positive more than ten days previously, no contact tracing would be done. No contact tracing means no known source of exposure. It also means close contacts could be unaware they were a close contact and will not be self-isolating.
But we can still go to the casino to try our luck at the slots.
Hospitals were trying to keep Covid patients in isolation but have begun to put two people to a room.
Misercordia Hospital in Edmonton has taken over its cardiac care unit with Covid ICU.
Calgary hospitals have postponed surgeries and some ICUs are already over capacity. AHS says they will use operating and recovery rooms for Covid patients if necessary. While not ideal, especially for those who may need emergency surgery, at least Covid patients won’t be lining the hallways.
Healthcare officials say space isn’t the biggest problem they face, it’s staffing.
Medical professionals from other units are getting a crash course in ICU procedures – because if anything sets your worries to rest, it’s a crash course medical procedures.
But we can still go to the mall to get our Christmas shopping done.
At the end of September, Alberta had 1,582 active cases. At the end of October, we had almost three times as many at 5,172 active cases. At the end of November we had more than three times the end of October at 16,454.
And what has Jason Kenney done differently?
Conferences and banquets are on hold, as they have been since March.
Calgary and Edmonton have mask mandates, as they have since August.
Nothing new there.
Churches are being asked to only use up to 30 per cent and retail outlets are being asked to only go as high as 25 per cent of fire code regulation capacity and indoor gatherings in personal residences are now banned.
It sounds like it means something but…
Junior and senior high school students are going online for the month of December and an additional week in January. Likely these measures are an attempt to make the holiday gatherings we’re not supposed to have safer. Similarly, the additional week of online learning in January for all K-12 students was probably put in place to give students two weeks after the holiday gatherings they’re not supposed to have before returning to school.
“This is a freedom-loving province,” Kenney said during his tepid announcement on November 24, echoing U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s messaging when asked why the U.K. had more infections than Italy in September.
Let us not forget it’s the freedom of those who follow the rules being sacrificed for those who refuse to do so.
This post contains opinion.
For more on Kenney’s Covid measures, check out the Women of ABpoli podcast with Dr. Jillian Ratti, Lorian Hardcastle, Kathleen Smith, and myself.
Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a political commentator physically distancing in Southern Alberta. Connect: @Mitchell_AB for more, @thisweekinAB for posts @politicalRnD for something in between
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