Alberta reported 1,227 new cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths Friday.
That brings the number of active cases to a record 14,217.
Today is the final day of in-school classes for junior and senior high students in Alberta, and the waiting has begun to see what impact the government’s new measures will have, if any, on the COVID-19 outbreak in the province.
For the next three weeks, Grade 7 to 12 classrooms will remain empty. Indoor social gatherings are banned, outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and access to some businesses will be restricted, while masks will be mandatory at indoor workplaces in Edmonton and Calgary.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, asked Albertans Friday to cut back on their in-person interactions with others.
“I want to be clear, for the next few weeks every one of us needs to dramatically reduce the amount of contact we have with people outside our own household,” Hinshaw said at a news conference.
“This weekend, I am asking all Albertans to embrace this challenge.
“The decisions each of us make this weekend will help determine whether cases fall or rise in the weeks ahead. So please be wise, be safe and let’s all look out for each other.”
Province to enforce restrictions
As the province moves forward with the new restrictions, Hinshaw asked Albertans to cooperate with health-care workers, business people and anyone else enforcing the rules.
“I know that the restrictions currently placed on all of us are difficult, but they are not the fault of law enforcement or inspectors who are simply trying to enforce what is in place and to help stop the spread,” she said.
“I urge Albertans to exercise patience and kindness in the days ahead. If a line is a bit longer than usual or an employee asks you to follow a new policy that is in place, please do not take your frustrations out on these workers.
“These new restrictions and measures create extra work and pressures for staff, owners and operators.”
Kaycee Madu, Alberta’s minister of justice and solicitor general, said the province is ready to enforce the new rules.
“My expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable,” Madu said at the news conference.
“I think you are going to see a heightened level of enforcement in those cases where there are individuals who are blatantly not compliant with the health measures.”
Up to 700 additional peace officers will help police and other law enforcement officers administer the new rules, Madu said.
Hinshaw says it will be 10 to 14 days before we see if the new measures can dent surging COVID-19 case numbers.
Until then, the numbers seem destined to soar as they have through November. On Thursday, the number of active cases in Alberta broke 14,000 while the number of dead broke 500.
Public health critics and the most vocal of the province’s doctors fear the government waited too long to act.
They point to the number of people in hospital and in ICU, which Hinshaw herself sees as key metrics in the battle.
Almost everyday those numbers set new records. On Friday, there were 405 people in hospital, 86 of them in ICU.
Critics also claim the restrictions do not go far enough, saying if we have to wait 10 days to know for sure, it may be too late to get the disease under control.
The active cases in Alberta breaks down among regions as:
- Edmonton zone: 6,614 cases
- Calgary zone: 5,164 cases
- Central zone: 950 cases
- North zone: 769 cases
- South zone: 634 cases
- Unknown: 86 cases
The new deaths bring the total to 519.
- A man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Rosealta Lodge in the Central zone. He died Nov. 16.
- A woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at the Manor Village Varsity in the Calgary zone. She died Nov. 17.
- A man in his 60s in the South zone who died Tuesday.
- A woman in her 80s in the Edmonton zone who died Tuesday.
- A man in his 70s linked to the outbreak at Laurel Heights Retirement Residence in the Edmonton zone. He died Wednesday.
- A woman in her 90s in the Edmonton zone who died Wednesday.
- A woman in her 70s in the South zone who died Thursday.
- A woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Extendicare Eaux Claires in the Edmonton zone. She died Thursday.
- A man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Revera Bow-Crest in the Calgary zone. He died Thursday.