Calgary

Here are all the known outbreaks of COVID-19 in Alberta and how they compare

Of the roughly 13,000 known cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, more than 4,000 have been connected to multi-person outbreaks at various workplaces, medical settings, businesses, churches and private gatherings.

Locations include workplaces, medical settings, businesses, churches and private gatherings

Clockwise from top left: Some of the larger outbreaks of COVID-19 in Alberta have occurred at hospitals, a spin studio, care homes for seniors and meat-processing plants. (CBC, Shutterstock, Scott Neufeld/CBC, Name withheld by request)

Of the roughly 13,000 known cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, more than 4,000 have been connected to multi-person outbreaks at various workplaces, medical settings, businesses, churches and private gatherings.

Alberta Health has been more detailed than other provincial health authorities in publishing the specifics of these types of outbreaks.

In the interest of transparency and preventing further spread, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw has routinely announced the latest outbreaks at her regular press conferences. The province also publishes a list of current outbreaks on its website.

Hinshaw has repeatedly cautioned, however, that the people and places involved in these outbreaks should not be targeted or stigmatized.

"Sharing this information ensures we are communicating with the public about trends. Unfairly targeting any worker or activity participant is counter-productive and risks driving COVID-19 and sickness underground," she said at a recent press conference.

"Those involved in any of these outbreaks are co-operating with public health to limit the risk of spread to others."

Alberta Health has chosen to make the outbreak information available in an effort to limit the spread by keeping the public informed.

At the request of CBC News, it also agreed to aggregate the outbreak details into a single dataset, so the information can be further analyzed.

What the data shows

Overall, the data — which includes the latest outbreak information up to Aug. 21 — confirms what most people who have been following the COVID-19 situation in Alberta for months probably already know.

The largest outbreaks, in terms of sheer cases, occurred at the Cargill and JBS slaughterhouses in the spring, when hundreds of workers were affected at each plant. Two employees died in the Cargill outbreak and one in the JBS outbreak.

The outbreaks that led to the most deaths, however, happened at care homes for seniors.

The worst outbreak, in terms of deaths, came at the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre in Edmonton, where 29 people died, as of Aug. 21 (the death toll now stands at 31). Eighty-two people connected to that outbreak had recovered, and there were still three active cases, as of Friday.

Several hospitals have also seen outbreaks. The largest has come at the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton, which had recorded 58 cases and 11 deaths in the aggregated data.

Outbreaks at private gatherings, meanwhile, have led to 325 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths — one early in the pandemic in the Calgary Zone and three more since, all in the North Zone. 

The visualization below depicts all the known outbreaks, up to Aug. 21. Each outbreak has an icon. The larger the icon, the more cases associated with that outbreak.

The icons' shapes and colours depict the type of facility or gathering where the outbreak occurred (crosses for medical settings, including long-term care and supportive-living seniors facilities, circles for other types of settings.)

The vertical axis shows the number of deaths, while the horizontal axis represents the reported start date of each outbreak.

You can scroll over, click or tap on the chart to see more information.

The visualization helps us see, at a glance, where and when outbreaks have occurred and their relative severity.

Another way to look at the data is in a simple table.

You'll find the information presented that way below.

You can search for a particular location and also sort the table by clicking on the column headers. (On small screens, this option isn't available, as the data is presented as a list rather than a table.)

Hinshaw has repeatedly emphasized that these outbreak details should be used to learn from, not to target or shame those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

She also said many outbreaks "have been triggered by a series of unfortunate events," and noted that "none of us is perfect" in terms of following every bit of public-health guidance all day, every day.

"I confess that I sometimes forget to sanitize my hands after opening a door and touching the door handle," she said.

"We all make mistakes. We are all trying the best we can to follow the rules as much as possible, but one slip at the wrong time and place can lead to transmission."

"We must be compassionate with those who test positive," Hinshaw added. "We must support those who have even mild symptoms to stay home and away from others without shame. Our success depends on this."

About the Author

Robson Fletcher

Reporter / Editor

Robson Fletcher's work for CBC Calgary focuses on data, analysis and investigative journalism. He joined CBC in 2015 after spending the previous decade working as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba.

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