COVID-19 has killed 110 Albertans so far during worst month of pandemic
Province now has 10,057 active cases, slight decrease from the day before
More than 100 Albertans have already died from COVID-19 in November, by far the deadliest month since the pandemic began last spring.
And with more than 10,000 active cases, the province cannot track the source of almost one in every three.
Alberta reported 11 more deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to 443, prompting more dire warnings from the public health doctor who has led the battle against COVID-19 since early March.
"The daily COVID-19 death count is a tragic reminder that COVID-19 is not just a flu," Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference.
"It is life and death. And often it is the outcome of choices made by Albertans who may not even know the victims."
So far in the month of November, 110 COVID-19 deaths have been reported, Alberta Health data shows.
"Almost one-quarter of all our COVID-19 deaths have happened since Nov. 1," Hinshaw said. "If we do not change our trajectory, the implications are grim."
The province can't identify the sources in almost one in three cases of the illness, she said.
As of Nov. 15, about 40 per cent of cases were linked to households or social gatherings or private events, she said. Another 10 per cent were linked to continuing care centres, four per cent to child care or K-12 schools, and three per cent to acute-care outbreaks.
"Every day about 250 to 350 people are getting sick, and we have been unable to identify the source of transmission," Hinshaw said. "This puts us all at greater risk. This is why we put in place the measures we did last week. The measures are focused on settings where there is the highest risk of one case spreading to many if there is a slip in public health measures."
Another 730 new cases were reported on Wednesday, with 10,057 active cases across the province, a slight decrease from the day before.
But hospitalizations continue to climb, with 287 people now being treated in acute-care for COVID-19, with 57 of them in ICU beds.
"We are in a terrible situation," Hinshaw said, "and it is COVID-19 that is the problem, not each other. We need to view every gas pump, every walk through a mall, every pass through a store door, every stair railing or escalator as an opportunity to prevent COVID spread."
Alberta's top public health doctor said she has been disappointed by reports that some organizations and businesses are trying to find loopholes in the orders and are continuing to host activities.
"I have seen examples of fitness studios running group classes with a video rather than an instructor," she said.
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Some team sport practices have simply moved to neighbouring community rinks, she said, and some teams continue to socialize together.
"I have heard people say that while we have communicated this is just for two weeks, they believe it will last longer, so they don't want to comply."
Any individual, group or business that chooses to ignore the measures risks further restrictions not just for themselves but for all those who have chosen to comply, Hinshaw said.
"This is deadly serious. I have asked for kindness but I also ask for firmness. The need to control our spread and protect our health system is why I ask everyone, anywhere in the province, to abide by all public health measures."
Hinshaw said she continues to be concerned about the rising case numbers and the human costs.
"As I have said before, as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise provincially, we are seeing a corresponding rise in COVID-related hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and an increase in the number of frontline health-care workers who are off work because of a potential COVID exposure and the need to self-isolate.
Alberta Health Service initiated surge capacity measures in the Edmonton zone earlier this month, she said, and continues to implement those measures in other zones as needed.
More hospital spaces
"AHS is able to increase the amount of hospital spaces available to patients with COVID if they reduce the number of other patients in hospital," she said. "This means reducing the amount of scheduled or elective surgeries and other procedures that might require overnight stays in hospital, and reducing the number of ambulatory clinic visits.
Hospitals are increasing beds that may be required for COVID-19 patients by opening units not currently in operation, and equipping and maximizing other spaces, she said.
AHS is also increasing ICU capacity across the province and can create temporary ICU spaces by using beds that would otherwise be used to care for patients with other conditions that require specialized care, such as cardiac units, post-operative recovery areas, and other areas able to support ventilators and cardiac monitoring.
"In short, AHS is preparing and working hard to meet demands," Hinshaw said. "But there are consequences to these measures in delayed access to non-COVID care, and there is a ceiling to capacity expansion.
"We need Albertans to do their part. By working together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community, we can reduce the need for hospitalization and demands on our hospitals and emergency departments."
November particularly cruel
The pandemic began in early March and hits its first peak in late April. After a lull over the summer, a second wave began in October, and November has been particularly cruel.
On the first day of the month, Alberta had 5,961 active cases. On Wednesday, there were 10,057 cases.
On the first day of the month, there were 139 people being treated in hospitals, including 28 in ICU beds. On Wednesday, those numbers had more than doubled, with 287 people were being treated in hospitals, 57 of them in ICU beds.
The 11 people whose deaths were reported on Wednesday were:
- A man in his 30s from the Edmonton zone.
- A man in his 60s from the North zone.
- A man in his 80s from the Central zone.
- A woman in her 80s from Calgary the zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at Mount Royal, Revera.
- A woman in her 80s from the Edmonton zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at South Terrace Continuing Care.
- A man in his 80s from the Calgary zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Amica Britannia.
- A woman in her 90s from the Edmonton zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at South Terrace Continuing Care.
- A man in his 90s from the Edmonton zone; his death is linked to an outbreak at Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
- A woman in her 90s from the Edmonton zone; her death is linked to an outbreak at Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
- A woman in her 90s from the Edmonton zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at South Terrace Continuing Care.
- A woman in her 90s from the Calgary zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at Agecare Skypointe.