St. Albert added another 39 cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the total to 288 active cases in the city.
Local cases have been increasing during the fourth wave of COVID-19 after they bottomed out following the third wave. On July 6 and July 16, the city only had one active case of COVID-19.
Now cases have climbed again, as they have in the rest of the province. St. Albert hasn’t seen numbers this high since the peak of the second wave, on Jan. 1 of this year.
Across Alberta cases are also spiking, with another 4,633 diagnosed over the weekend. On Friday 1,605 cases were diagnosed in the province; on Saturday 1,592 cases were diagnosed; and on Sunday 1,436 cases were diagnosed.
Active cases have now passed 2,000, which is the highest number in the province has seen since mid-May.
Over the weekend another 22 deaths were reported, bringing the provincial total to 2,545.
Hospitalizations continue to rise and there are now 954 people being treated in the hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 43 patients since Friday.
Some 216 of those in the hospital are in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Of those in the hospital for COVID-19, 82 per cent of them are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
The R-value, the number of infections each infected person causes, has slowed down in Edmonton and Calgary, but in other regions of the province infections are still growing. Across Alberta the number sits at 1.04, in Edmonton the value is 0.97, Calgary it sits at 0.94, but in the rest of Alberta the R-value is 1.15.
But as cases grow across the province, vaccinations are also seeing an uptick.
Last Wednesday, Sept. 15, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called a state of public health emergency and ushered in new restrictions to deal with the surge.
Alberta has brought in a slew of new restrictive health measures, including limits to indoor social gatherings and capacity limits on businesses, amid concerns the province could run out of ICU staff and beds in the next 10 days.
On Sept. 15 Kenney, then Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, announced the provincial health-care system is in the worst position it has been in since the pandemic began.
"We are facing an emergency that requires immediate action,” Kenney said.
Intensive care unit patients have hit a record high for the province. On Tuesday, the province reached 270 ICU patients, a 29-per-cent increase in the last seven days, which is 156 per cent of the normal health-care capacity.
Alberta has reached out to other provinces to see if they have any additional ICU spaces and for skilled front-line health workers to come to Alberta to help add critical-care capacity. Ontario has agreed to take patients if Alberta is over capacity.
"Recent trends show we are exceeding that high-end projection [of hospitalizations] and that we may run out of staff and intensive-care beds within the next 10 days," Kenney said.
To deal with the crisis, Kenney has implemented dozens of new restrictions on both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, with a vaccine-passport exemption system for some businesses to work around the new rules.
Kenney apologized to the province for the move toward an endemic approach rather than a pandemic approach, which he said he believed was the right thing to do because of the data from other jurisdictions.
"It is now clear that we were wrong, and for that I apologize," Kenney said, though he said he does not apologize for lifting public-health restrictions through the summer.
"I do apologize for predicting we could be open for good, when clearly the Delta variant and behaviour pattern we are now seeing are posing a threat to the health-care system."
The premier has reluctantly implemented a vaccine-passport system, even though he had previously said he would not bring the system into the province, because he said he was left with no choice. As a result, there has been an uptick in vaccines in the province as bookings have nearly tripled since the vaccine passport was announced. Some 59,009 vaccine doses have been administered between Friday and Monday.
“The government’s first obligation must be to avoid large numbers of preventable deaths. We must deal with the reality that we are facing. We cannot wish it away,” Kenney said.
“Morally, ethically, and legally, the protection of life must be our paramount concern.”
Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette