Alberta experienced one of its highest jumps in COVID-19 cases over the Labour Day long weekend.
In her press conference Tuesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said she is worried about the rising number of cases in the province.
Alberta posted 154 new cases Friday, 171 on Saturday, 137 on Sunday and 157 on Monday. That brought the number of active cases to 1,692, the highest number since May 9.
“I am concerned about the rise in cases. Our focus continues to be limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the community and responding quickly to outbreaks when they occur. However, higher case numbers and more outbreaks can strain our frontline teams,” she said.
Additionally, Hinshaw announced 13,154 people recovered from the virus, with 45 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.
She also noted that five more people died from the virus over the long weekend, bringing the provincial death toll to 247.
In the central zone, there are 52 active cases, with zero people in hospital and zero in the ICU. Red Deer has risen to 18 active cases, with 77 recovered.
Lacombe County has eight active cases, Sylvan Lake has six active cases and the County of Wetaskiwin has four active cases.
Lacombe, the County of Camrose and Olds each have one active case. The Town of Drumheller has two active cases. Wetaskiwin and Ponoka have no active cases.
The Calgary zone sits at 732 active cases, with 648 in the Edmonton zone.
Hinshaw also tackled questions from critics Tuesday, as cases in Calgary continue to pop up in schools. She said one of the major disappointments has been the number of students who have attended school with mild symptoms.
“We need to do a better job communicating to students and parents the expectation that even mild symptoms mean staying home from school,” she said.
Hinshaw said as of Tuesday, 11 of 2,400 schools in the province are experiencing cases, which is to be somewhat expected.
“The reality is we have slowly increasing community transmission. With slowly increasing community transmission, there is a higher likelihood we will see cases in schools.
“We have known with schools opening, there absolutely would be infectious cases in schools, because there are infectious cases in our communities. That’s not surprising. It’s too early to say whether the current school model will be sufficient to protect against all transmission.”
She noted that the province is working towards developing better online reporting tools to help keep the public and parents better informed about school cases.
The website will provide information on school alerts, for schools where there are two or more cases or where there is early identification of transmission.
There will be a listing of schools with an outbreak of five or more cases.
NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman spoke to reporters in the afternoon and said the government needs to do more to cap class sizes as the school year moves into the second week.
“Stop making excuses, start acting,” she said.
The NDP has made numerous pitches this summer to reduce class sizes.
“It is not too late for the government to act. This first week has gone badly, but there’s still time to prevent the coming weeks from being worse,” Hoffman said.
“The government must immediately provide schools with the resources they need to staff up and spread out.”
Hinshaw, while cautioning Albertans about the road ahead, said there’s an easy path toward reversing the course.
“We continue to see a rise in cases, but we are not powerless here,” she said.
“Together, we can reverse the trend. We are in this together and we will get through this together.”