“The measures in place right now are literally a matter of life and death,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
There have been a total of 40,189 cases in Alberta over the course of the pandemic.
Exact testing numbers remain unavailable due to outstanding technical issues with the province’s reporting site.
The chief medical officer of health addressed questions about COVID hospitalizations and ICU numbers compare to increases seen in regular flu season and why the current acute care burden is so challenging.
“This is not an influenza season. This is a global pandemic that requires each one of us to pull together to protect our communities, families and friends,” she said.
Hinshaw said there have been 49 acute care COVID outbreaks in just seven and a half months, with 42 deaths linked to these outbreaks. She said the worst acute care outbreak numbers related to influenza in the past five years are 40 outbreaks with 13 deaths in a full year.
She said it’s important to remember several differences between COVID and influenza.
Differences include the extraordinary measures needed to prevent spread in hospital. She said they enhance safety but also limit capacity, including much more aggressive isolation policies for patients confirmed to have COVID, those showing symptoms that could be COVID and those who have had a COVID exposure need to be in an isolation space.
Staff availability is another big impact on capacity due to strict isolation and quarantine requirements for those confirmed to have COVID, those showing symptoms that could be COVID and those who have been exposed to COVID.
“COVID is more dangerous than influenza both at an individual and population level,” said Hinshaw.
She also warned the rising cases are putting an extra strain on the contact tracing system. Each case has about 15 close contacts within their infectious period, leading to about 15,000 new people that need to be contacted each day.
Medicine Hat was placed on the provincial “Watch” list on Friday and remains there.
Regions are placed on the province’s “Watch” list when they have a rate of more than 50 active cases per 100,000 population. Medicine Hat’s 50 active cases among 68,057 people puts it at a rate of 73.5.
Cypress County with a rate of 347.6 on 39 active cases and the County of Forty Mile with a rate of 481.1 on 31 active cases are also on the list.
Brooks (191.7 rate), the County of Newell (370.7), Lethbridge (169.7) Lethbridge County (317.1) and the MD of Taber (376.4) are also on the list.
There are 3,102 cases in the South Zone. There are 556 active cases and 2,511 recovered. There are currently 21 COVID-19 cases in hospital in the South Zone, six in the ICU. The death total in the zone is at 5.
On Monday there are 173 schools in the province where outbreaks have been declared. Alberta Health’s threshold for declaring an outbreak in school is two cases being in a school while infectious within 14 days.
Medicine Hat High School has identified three cases in the past week, and is in outbreak status.
Eastbrook Elementary School in Brooks is on the school “Watch” list.
Medicine Hat High School and Crestwood School in Medicine Hat, Brooks Junior High School and Bassano School are currently on the outbreak list.
The website Support Our Students is tracking instances of cases in schools across the province.
Cypress County has totaled 86 cases – 39 active cases and the rest recovered.
The County of Forty Mile has 85 total cases. There are 31 active cases, 53 recovered and there is one new death.
The MD of Taber has 132 total cases — 71 active cases and the rest recovered.
Special Areas No. 2 has 18 total cases – one active and the rest recovered.
Brooks has 1,235 total cases — 37 active and 1,187 are recovered. Brooks has recorded 11 deaths.
The County of Newell has a total of 86 cases — 30 active cases, 54 recovered and there have been two deaths.
The County of Warner has 84 total cases. There are 10 active cases, 73 are recovered cases and there has been one death in the county.
The City of Lethbridge has a total of 757 cases. There are 168 active cases, 582 recovered and there have been seven deaths. Lethbridge County has 250 cases, 80 active cases, 169 recovered and there has been one death.
The figures on alberta.ca are “up-to-date as of end of day Nov. 15, 2020.”
Saskatchewan confirmed 670 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, 61 in the South Zones. There were 308 new cases on Nov. 14.
Saskatchewan has a total of 5,182 cases, 1,928 considered active. There are 3,223 recovered cases and there have been 31 COVID-19 deaths in the province.