Airdrie reached an unfortunate milestone Oct. 26. With 40 active cases of COVID-19, Alberta Health Services officially placed the city under “watch" status.
Up to this point, Airdronians have been able to keep the city’s number of cases relatively low. While the number of COVID-19 patients here has fluctuated throughout the pandemic, this marks the first time Airdrie’s active cases exceeded a rate of 50 per population of 100,000 people.
This number of active cases is a reminder that we need to be more stringent in our behaviour. To combat this recent spike, we need to avoid complacency and return to the attitude we collectively exhibited in the spring, when the unknowns of COVID-19 led us to treat it with abundant caution.
While Airdrie has a mandatory mask-wearing bylaw, it won’t be enacted unless the city is upgraded from watch status to “enhanced” status. So far, only the Calgary and Edmonton health zones in Alberta have been placed under enhanced status and it seems like the local bylaw won't come into effect unless something catastrophic happens. It now seems council’s decision in August was more about appeasing both sides of the mask-wearing debate, rather than coming up with the best way forward.
Addressing COVID-19 starts with the attitude of our elected officials, many of whom have said the right things about the importance of following public health orders. But this rhetoric needs to be practised as well as preached. At the Oct. 15 funding announcement for the 40th Avenue interchange, our reporter noticed many attendees were not social distancing, not wearing masks and talking to each other in close proximity.
When news broke Oct. 21 that Minister of Municipal Affairs Tracy Allard – who was at the local announcement – tested positive for the virus, we were concerned the complacent attitude demonstrated at that event would result in at least a few additional positive cases. Fortunately, no other positive tests have resulted from that event. However, recent events underscore the continued importance of taking this virus seriously.