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Airdrie placed under watch status with 40 cases of COVID-19

The City of Airdrie is officially under watch status with respect to its number of active COVID-19 cases.

Airdrie's number of active COVID-19 cases has led Alberta Health Services (AHS) to place the city under "watch" status.

According to AHS data, the Airdrie health zone had 42 active cases of the virus as of Oct. 27, giving the city a rate of approximately 60 active cases per population of 100,000 residents. AHS places any health zone with more than 50 active cases per 100,000 people under watch status.

Airdrie’s number of cases nearly doubled in the span of one week. On Oct. 22, the City had 25 active cases.

Despite being placed under watch status, Airdrie's mandatory mask bylaw – which was approved by Airdrie City council Aug. 17 – has not been enacted. The bylaw only comes into effect if Airdrie's active number of COVID-19 cases causes AHS to designate the city's status level as “enhanced.” According to AHS, enhanced status means a health region’s risk level requires additional public health measures to control the virus’ spread. The designation is not tied to a fixed number of cases but rather the discretion of the Alberta government. The reason it is not attached to a specific number is that it’s dependent on the manner and context in which the virus is spreading.

"AHS determines when the City is considered to be in an 'enhanced' status," Lorri Laface, the City of Airdrie's deputy director of Emergency Management Services, said in a statement. "Until they say otherwise, we continue to strongly urge the use of masks in public."

Some of Airdrie’s schools have reported positive COVID-19 cases. According to the Alberta government's interactive map, an outbreak of five or more cases has been declared at Cooper’s Crossing School, putting it under watch status, while Northcott Prairie School remains open with two to four active cases.

The recent surge in Airdrie’s cases is consistent with the rest of the province. In recent weeks, Alberta has experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases.

On Oct. 26, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, reported a three-day average of 480 cases during the Oct. 23 to 25 weekend, including a record-high 572 cases reported Oct. 24. The province currently has slightly more than 4,400 active cases and 307 people have died from the virus.

“We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we have been seeking,” Hinshaw said during an Oct. 26 briefing. “You have heard me say many times that we need to achieve a balance between minimizing the risk of COVID-19 and minimizing the risk of harms of restrictions.”

According to Hinshaw, there are currently 118 COVID-19 patients in Alberta’s hospitals, including 16 in intensive care units.

The vast majority of Alberta’s COVID-19 cases are in Edmonton and Calgary. To combat the recent spike, AHS has mandated a 15-person limit on social and family gatherings in those two cities, including parties, weddings, funerals, banquets and special event celebrations. The limit, which Hinshaw said will be in effect for one month, does not apply to structured events in which socializing is not the main purpose of the activity, such as restaurant dining, worship services, conferences or trade shows.

“Along with the mandatory limit on social gatherings, two voluntary public health measures will remain in place for Edmonton and will be put in place today for anyone living in or visiting Calgary,” she said.

The first voluntary measure includes wearing non-medical masks in all indoor work settings, Hinshaw said, except when “employees can be safely distanced from others or appropriate barriers are in place.” The second is to reduce the number of close contacts people have and reduce the connections between different networks.

“The tool we are using to accomplish this is a voluntary measure that all those in Edmonton or Calgary should belong to no more than three cohorts – a core cohort, including the household and a small group of people with whom exclusively you’ve agreed to gather; a school cohort; and one additional sport, social or other cohort,” she said.

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

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