Alberta’s chief medical officer of health delivered a grim warning to the province Thursday.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, in her twice-weekly briefing, explained that once again, the rising number of cases should be a concern to Albertans.
There were 114 new cases Thursday, along with two additional deaths, bringing the death toll to 176.
Hinshaw said that even more concerning is the steady rise in hospitalizations and ICU stays. Currently, 106 people across the province are in hospital, the highest since April 30, and 21 people are in intensive care, the largest total since May 1.
Since July 9, active cases across the province have risen from 590 to more than 1,300.
“The message is clear: we need to learn from our own experiences and the experiences of others. We need to take current numbers as a warning and do what we need to do to prevent infections from spreading widely and quickly,” Hinshaw said.
“We are all tired of COVID-19. But this virus doesn’t care, we have no choice but to learn how to live with it.”
Central zone cases also continue to rise. In the region, there are now 161 active cases, with 33 people in hospital, including seven in intensive care.
The City of Red Deer sits at 11 active cases, with 40 recoveries. The County of Stettler remains the hardest hit in the region, with 24 cases, while Starland County has 16 active cases.
Camrose has eight active cases, while Sylvan Lake has four and Wetaskiwin has three.
Lacombe County sits at nine active cases, while the City of Lacombe still has no active cases. Ponoka County has seven active cases, Kneehill County has 11 and Camrose County has four.
“This needs to be a wake-up call. I am very concerned by these numbers. Recently, our active cases have risen sharply,” Hinshaw said.
“There is no zone spared from the increase. Even rural areas, including central Alberta, which has not seen high case numbers so far, now has 33 cases in hospital, seven of whom are in the ICU. We have seen a rise in cases across the province, and as such, precautions need to be taken in all parts of Alberta.”
Hinshaw also shared some concerning numbers about who is being affecting by COVID-19.
One out of every 50 diagnosed cases between the ages of 20 and 39 has needed to be admitted to hospital. Between the ages of 40 and 69, that risk is greater, with one out of 20 going to hospital.
One out of every 10 diagnosed cases between the ages of 70 to 79 has died, and for those over 80, one out of every four cases has died.
“Surviving this virus can still be awful and life changing. There is some emerging evidence of the long-term effects of COVID-19, particularly those who have more severe illness, such as an ICU admission,” she said.
“There can be long-term damage, such as higher risk of diabetes and lung damage that doesn’t go away when the infection ends. Regardless of age, we don’t know what impact COVID-19 will have on your lifelong health. This is not something to be taken lightly.
“The guidance we have put in place is the manual on how to live with COVID-19 for at least the rest of this year, and likely beyond. It is not an optional suggestion that can be disregarded when inconvenient.”
Hinshaw was also adamant that if Albertans start being more diligent with hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing, they can get the virus under control again by early August. She said the government is not considering mandatory mask wearing right now.
“We are a remarkable province and I believe in Albertans,” she said.
“And the power of our collective action. We can pull together and turn this around. If you need motivation to distance, wear a mask or wash your hands, or stay home if you’re sick, remember who you are protecting. We are each other’s best defence. Today, tomorrow and the weeks and months ahead.”