Albertans may be feeling a false sense of security around the existence of COVID-19, as restrictions are gone around public mask-wearing and visitation to care homes. Reporting of COVID-19 cases on the news is less frequent now, and Albertans usually have to look online for information to find out where there are outbreaks, if numbers are rising or falling, etc. But the virus still exists, and the threat remains especially real for vulnerable Albertans--the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
As of mid-July, the City of Edmonton's data site (data.edmonton.ca) shows numerous outbreaks across the province, including at the Royal Alexandra and Grey Nuns hospitals in Edmonton, health centres in Three Hills, Vermillion and Wetaskiwin, and senior's facilities in every region of the province.
Alberta Health Services and Covenant Care facilities with outbreaks as of August 3 include: Grande Prairie Regional Hospital, Grey Nuns, Royal Alexandra, Sturgeon Hospital and University of Alberta Hospital; Red Deer Hospital, Rockyview Hospital and Chinook Regional Hospital. See albertahealthservices.ca for the full list.
The province's go-to site for COVID-19 information (alberta.ca), reports that as of July 25, 649 Albertans were in hospital, 26 in intensive care. In the previous seven days, some 1,717 cases were reported. There have been 4,665 deaths in Alberta since the start of the pandemic.
When the province chose to move to a monthly report on COVID-19, Health Minister Jason Copping said it was good news that the Omicron wave continued to recede, with levels of virus in wastewater trending down across the province. But that was in late June. In late July, numbers are on the upswing again. In supportive living sites, there are a reported 22 outbreaks; 15 in acute care facilities and 12 in long term care facilities.
“We know the pandemic is not over. We have to expect cases to increase again, most likely in the fall, and we’re preparing for that," said Copping in his late June news conference. "We’ll continue to closely monitor the emergence of new variants and keep Albertans informed of the risks from the pandemic and how we’re responding to them."
Residents, families and staff at CapitalCare Kipnes Centre for Veterans are having to respond to an outbreak now which, as of August 2, has affected some 20 residents in the Colombia and Thompson main floor houses of the facility.
Bonnie Roberts, site director at Kipnes, told residents and families in a letter that the easily-spreading Omicron BA.5 variant is partly responsible for the increase in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and COVID-19 in wastewater in the Edmonton area.
"We are taking enhanced precautions to limit the spread of the virus," Roberts said. "Residents who test positive are on isolation, receiving tray service to their rooms and with staff caring for them wearing recommended PPE. Regardless of vaccination status, the isolation period for a resident who tests positive for COVID-19 in a continuing care centre is 10 days."
Residents in affected areas continue to be screened twice daily for COVID-19 and visitors are being asked to postpone visits to the site when possible. Those who do come to the site are asked to wear a KN95 mask and eye protection at all times.
For the latest on COVID-19 in the province, visit alberta.ca.