Two more residents of Lakeland communities have died of COVID-19 according to the province’s virus tracker map.
Eight people in Lac-La-Biche, three people in Bonnyville, three people in St. Paul, six people in Smoky Lake, two people in Two Hills, and two people in Vermilion bring the region’s death toll from the virus up to 24.
Across the province, a total of 12 people died of COVID-19 on Jan. 26 bringing the provincial total up to 1599.
“Each death is a reminder that we must continue to take action to prevent the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
According to the provincial data, there are 8203 active cases of the virus with just 459 of those being new cases Jan. 26. The provincial positivity rate is 3.6 per cent, the lowest it has been in over a month.
|Municipality||Active Cases Jan. 24||Active Cases Jan. 26||Active Cases +/-||Total Cases +/-|
|Lac La Biche County||1||2||+1||+1|
|Lac La Biche||75||59||-16||+5|
|M.D. of Bonnyville No. 87||73||55||-18||+9|
|City of Cold Lake||76||49||-27||+5|
|County of St. Paul No. 19||91||53||-38||+1|
|Smoky Lake County||60||39||-21||0|
|County of Two Hills No. 21||6||4||-2||0|
|County of Vermilion River||18||26||+8||+8|
|Local Geographic Area||Active Cases Jan. 11||Active Cases Jan. 12||Active +/-||Total Cases +/-|
|Lac La Biche (Lac La Biche County, NW Smoky Lake County & I.D. 349)||78||62||-16||+6|
|Smoky Lake (Nearby Smoky Lake County & West Thorhild County)||15||13||-2||0|
|Bonnyville (Nearby Bonnyville MD)||59||50||-9||+10|
|Cold Lake (East Bonnyville MD)||76||49||-27||+5|
|St. Paul (Saddle Lake and Surrounding St. Paul County)||78||53||-25||0|
|Frog Lake (West St. Paul County & South Bonnyville MD)||72||32||-40||+1|
|Two Hills County||6||4||-2||0|
|Vermilion River County||24||32||+8||+8|
According to Hinshaw, despite the overall declines in new and active cases, there is still a great deal of pressure on the health care system.
Hospitalizations are down to 604 people in hospital with 110 in intensive care, but Hinshaw said that is still just as many people as there were in hospital on Dec. 4 “when our acute care system was struggling under the impact of COVID-19.”
Even with reduced numbers of COVID patients, Hinshaw said there are still not enough beds available to care for people who have heart attacks, or broken bones that require surgery to repair.
“If we’re not careful, people who need to be admitted to hospital can then spend longer in the emergency department, while waiting for a bed. This in turn can lead emergency departments to fill up faster, challenging their ability to take new arrivals leaving Albertans with broken bones and other less severe needs in waiting rooms,” said Hinshaw.
Hinshaw responds to businesses flouting public health orders
During the Jan. 27 COVID-19 update, Dr. Hinshaw responded directly to news that some restaurants especially in rural Alberta had chosen to open for dine in service in deliberate violation of the public health order which has been in place since Dec. 13.
She said she recognizes the frustration of business owners and the public are experiencing, and the difficulties faced by restaurants forced to operate with only takeout or curbside pickup service available but “it is important to know that in all three of our rural zones, as well as our urban zones we continue to see hospitalizations putting pressure on the system.”
“These actions could potentially put at risk the sacrifices that we’ve made and the progress that we’ve made over the past couple of months. Decisions that are being taken to open in contravention of the orders are not in the best interest of our communities,” said Hinshaw.
Asked specifically about local leaders choosing to dine in, Hinshaw said those leaders need to think about not just what they see in their town but to look at the province “and to recognize that every action that we take as individuals has repercussions and connections to our own communities and to the communities around us.”
“Unfortunately what we saw in the fall was that when we take early targeted steps to try to minimize risk but not have businesses closed we continued to see our cases climb. And we saw our healthcare system come very close to a tipping point. We want to avoid that and we need to make sure that we are taking slow measured steps.”
Hinshaw said there is a framework coming which will include targets for the province to achieve in order to start re-opening some activities. Asked for further details of what that framework would include, she said their primary goal is to protect the healthcare system and that they are monitoring a number of metrics including the positivity rate, daily new cases, hospitalizations, and ICU counts.