As Albertarecorded a newrecord for single-day COVID-19 cases, the fifth one in a week, Albertans are left wondering what next steps to take when it comes to new restrictions.
On Sunday, the province reported 1,584 new cases of COVID-19 with 4,309 active cases in the city of Edmonton, a rate of 421.8 per 100,000 people.
During a Thursday emergency advisory committee meeting, Mayor Don Iveson asked Dr. Michael Zakhary what the trigger points would be for stronger COVID-19 measures to be brought in.
Zakhary, a medical officer of health for the Edmonton Zone, said that’s a policy decision for Alberta Health.
“At the moment we haven’t had information from Alberta Health about the triggers for the next action,” he said.
Not having detailed information on when and how new restrictions may come down is frustrating, said Coun. Andrew Knack in an interview Sunday.
He said at the beginning of the pandemic it was easier for the community to come together when Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, and Premier Jason Kenney explained the scope and scale of the province’s COVID-19 situation with modelling in April.
“To date, we don’t even have new modelling based on everything we’ve learned over the last eight months,” Knack said.
“So that’s challenging for everyone, including folks in municipal government, to know what the right actions are to help minimize the impact to people’s health as well as to our economy.”
The city could help if it had information on triggers for new restrictions as well as when they might loosen.
“We could aid in the decisions, we could make adjustments to our own civic facilities to help make sure we’re being clear to Edmontonians what needs to be done and what shouldn’t be done and what should be done,” Knack said.
One area that could be helpful with the city’s COVID-19 response, Coun. Ben Henderson said, is if the city’s peace officers were given the power to once again enforce restrictions in addition to police.
“There’s a whole bunch of areas where we could probably be more effective for our population,” Henderson said. “The province is one of the very few provinces that hasn’t done a mask bylaw, but has been very supportive of us doing ours, so there’s a kind of mixed signal there as well.”
Hinshaw said Friday she is preparing new recommendations for the province to consider.
“No decisions have yet been made, but of course we are watching very closely and considering what may need to be done if our numbers do not go down,” she said.
As of Sunday, there were 12,195 active cases across the province and 310 people hospitalized, including 60 in intensive care units. There were no new deaths.
In the County of Vermilion River there were 7 active cases as of Monday morning. That’s a rate of 54.2 active cases per 100,000. In the County of St. Paul there are 20 cases as of Monday morning–a rate of 121.3 active cases per 100,000.
The most recent restrictions impacting group sports, fitness, amateur arts performances, and late-night restaurant liquor sales were implemented on Nov. 13. They are expected to be in effect until Friday.
NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley is seeking an emergency debate on Monday afternoon in light of the record number of COVID-19 cases and the lack of information and lack of action from Kenney.
“This is the greatest public health threat we have faced in our lives,” said Notley in a news release. “When faced with great challenges, Albertans are always willing to roll up their sleeves and work together, but to do so they need leadership and a road map. So far, the premier has provided neither.
“We have seen premiers across the country address the public in recent days and provide modelling and other information that makes it clear just how big of a threat COVID-19 is. In Alberta, we’ve seen nothing of the sort.”