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Airdrie COVID-19 cases continue to see-saw, now 66 active

Airdrie reported 10 additional recoveries after a slight jump in cases over the weekend as there are now 66 active cases.

Airdrie reported 10 additional recoveries among COVID-19 patients on Feb. 17, after a slight jump in cases over the February long weekend, and there are now 66 active cases in the city.

There have been a total of 1,838 cases locally since the pandemic began, according to airdrie.ca. That means 1,755 Airdronians have recovered from the virus, while 17 deaths have been reported.

Provincially, 277 new cases of COVID-19 were identified on Feb. 17. The new cases mean there are 4,857 active cases in Alberta, and there have been a total of 129,615 cases since the pandemic began. The positivity rate for the most recent day of testing was 3.9 per cent.

According to the provincial government, 122,960 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, 370 patients are in hospital and 60 Albertans are in intensive care units. In total, 1,798 deaths have been reported in the province due to the virus.

Cases are currently confirmed in five Airdrie schools. According to the provincial COVID-19 status map, Bert Church High School is still listed under "outbreak" status, with five-to-nine cases of the virus. St. Veronica School, École francophone d'Airdrie and Herons Crossing School are listed under "alert" status, meaning they have reported two to four cases each. Good Shepherd School was added to the list under "alert status" over the long weekend.

Locally, the Bethany Care Centre remains the sole local local facility on the government's list of COVID-19 outbreaks. However, according to the retirement home's daily bulletin, there were no longer any residents or employees reported to have COVID-19, as of Feb. 16

Rocky View County (RVC) is reporting 35 active cases as of Feb. 16 – up two from the previous day. COVID-19 outbreaks in RVC are reported at five facilities in Balzac, including the Harmony Beef meat processing plant, the Wal-Mart logistics centre, the Amazon Fulfilment Centre, the Sobeys Distribution Centre and Dexterra Group.

In RVC, Khalsa School Calgary Educational Foundation is on the COVID-19 school status map under "alert" status. Springbank Middle School has also been added to the list under "alert" status.

On the east side of the county, Chestermere is reporting 54 active cases, while out west, Cochrane is up to nine cases – one more than the day before. In Chestermere, Rainbow Creek Elementary School is listed under "alert" status on the government's COVID-19 school status map, while Chestermere High School and Chestermere Lake Middle School are listed under "outbreak" status. Prairie Waters Elementary School is no longer listed.

As of Feb. 16, 152,056 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Alberta. To date, 56,954 Albertans have been fully immunized with two doses of a vaccine. Seventy-nine adverse events following immunization have been reported to Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services (AHS).

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during her Feb. 17 update that up until December 2020, less than one per cent of confirmed cases didn't answer the phone or return calls from contact tracers.

"Since then, we’ve seen a concerning rise in those we can’t get a hold of – 1.9 per cent of all cases in January and 1.34 per cent so far in February," she said. "In addition to this, there has also been an increase in those who were initially willing to speak to contact tracers but then later [were] unwilling to provide the necessary information needed for us to follow up with contacts."

According to Hinshaw, when this happens, public health officials follow up multiple times to try and obtain the details they need. They then send written notice of information requirements under the Public Health Act for those who still do not provide the necessary information.

"But this leaves gaps that COVID-19 is happy to fill," she said. "I know that we are tired of this pandemic, and we all want to ease restrictions as soon as possible and get back to the lives we led a year ago. It may be tempting to think that not providing information will make COVID go away. Unfortunately, the opposite is true."

Hinshaw said trying to ignore COVID-19 diagnoses and not participate with contact tracing only pushes back the day restrictions can be eased further, as it gives the virus the opportunity to spread farther and faster without being stopped.

"By working with contact tracers, you are helping prevent spread in the province," she said. "You’re also helping ensure that you don’t spread the virus to others, and that those around you don’t pass it on to someone who might trigger an outbreak or end up in the hospital. Given how easily this virus can be passed on, even a handful of individuals not cooperating can lead to significant spread quickly which puts our ability to keep easing restrictions at risk."