With COVID-19 cases finally on the decline in Alberta and Airdrie, the provincial government has announced additional measure to stem the fourth wave, including new rules for continuing-care facilities such as mandatory masks and quarantine periods.
According to Alberta Health statistics, after reaching its peak in mid-September, daily case counts have been declining in most of Alberta's health zones, but are still relatively high compared to other phases of the pandemic, as well as other provinces.
Verna Yiu, president and CEO at Alberta Health Services, said in an Oct. 19 press conference, the province has not yet seen the "potential full impact" of the Thanksgiving long weekend.
By easing pressure on ICUs, Yiu hopes more resources can be allocated to reduce the backlog of postponed surgical procedures, which had reached 8,500 delayed procedures since August.
"As pressures created by COVID decrease, we are able to use more ICU beds for their intended (post-surgical) purpose," Yiu said.
While more than 90 per cent of health-care workers have been fully vaccinated in Alberta, 1,200 employees have requested exemption on medical or religious grounds.
A mandatory vaccination requirement has also been imposed on members of the provincial public civil sector.
The Province has also announced it will be tightening restrictions at continuing-care facilities, requiring all visitors to wear a face mask throughout the facility, including in private rooms. Residents who arrive at the facility after a hospital stay of more than 24 hours will be required to quarantine until a negative COVID-19 test result is procured.
“I know this can be very difficult for residents and families — this is intended to help prevent the virus from entering these facilities where we know it can possibly spread quickly and put many at risk,” said Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health to the government, in the press conference.
Hinshaw also urged Albertans who are not fully vaccinated to avoid visits to long-term care facilities.
According to statistics updated daily on airdrie.ca, there have been a total of 5,200 cases of COVID-19 locally since the pandemic began. Of those cases, 4,897 residents have recovered and 21 deaths have been reported. There are currently 282 active cases in the city – a drop of 25 from the 307 active cases reported on Sept. 30.
Ten Airdrie schools are currently listed on the Alberta government's directory of schools with COVID-19 infections. Eight local schools are listed under "alert" status, with two to four active cases each, one school is reporting five to nine active cases, and one school – École Edwards Elementary – is currently experiencing an outbreak of 10 or more cases.
Regarding vaccinations, 86.2 per cent of Airdrie's eligible population have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to stats posted daily on Airdrie.ca, with 77.9 per cent of eligible residents fully vaccinated.
Provincially, 86 per cent of the eligible population have received one dose of a vaccine, while 77.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. More than 6,368,880 doses of vaccine have been administered in Alberta, as of Oct. 18.
The province is reporting 11,402 active cases, with 964 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 218 receiving care in ICU.
Since the pandemic first arrived in Alberta, there have been a total of 316,433 cases of the virus with 302,574 recoveries. Provincial numbers indicate 2,988 deaths have been reported to date.