Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said hospitals have never been under greater strain, as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hits the province hard. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said hospitals have never been under greater strain, as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hits the province hard. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Red Deer nears 600 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports 1,718 new cases and 10 new deaths

Red Deer has the third most active COVID-19 cases in the province.

The city jumped from 546 active cases Wednesday to 594 Thursday, behind only Edmonton and Calgary. Red Deer has had 6,690 total confirmed cases to date, with 6,348 recovered cases and 48 deaths.

Thursday, the province reported 1,718 new cases based on 16,300 tests, for a positivity rate of about 10.6 per cent. There were 10 new COVID-19 deaths reported Thursday, bringing the death toll to 2,505.

As the virus continues to spread, Alberta now has 18,706 active cases of COVID-19.

“We need to work together to beat back this current wave,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw Thursday.

”I know the new measures come as a disappointment to many who have worked diligently to keep our province safe – I know many are frustrated, tired and both of these are understandable,” she said of the new restrictions announced Wednesday.

“However, despite this tiredness and frustration, the virus is not going to stop without us. We are all playing a role in preventing the spread of the virus; protecting ourselves and protecting our community.”

In relation to the new restrictions, Hinshaw explained the reason private social gatherings are limited to 10 people, even if all the attendees are fully vaccinated is to help stop the spread of the virus.

She said there is still a small percentage, about 20 per cent of people being hospitalized that are fully vaccinated and the vaccine is about 85 per cent effective in preventing severe outcomes from the virus.

“Since the presence of COVID-19 is so high right now, we need to do all we can to safeguard ourselves and our health care system and stop providing all those opportunities for COVID-19 to slip in and spread,” she said.

Hinshaw added that businesses who wish to be part of the Restrictions Exemptions Program, simply need to implement the rules as provided starting Monday.

Alberta’s hospitals continue to bear the brunt of the fourth wave, as the province now has 896 people in hospital, including 222 in intensive care.

Alberta Health Services president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said the system is under extreme pressure and there are tough days ahead.

The province would be over 155 per cent capacity in ICUs without additional surge capacity. Right now, capacity is at about 85 per cent. The number of patients in the ICU has increased by 16 per cent in the past week.

Yiu added the province is seeing about 18 to 20 new COVID-19 admissions every day.

“This fourth wave has resulted in the sharpest increase in ICU patients that we have seen throughout the pandemic,” Yiu said, adding AHS is working day-by-by to increase capacity in any way they can.

The Central zone sits at 2,758 active cases of the virus, with 147 people in hospital, including 21 in the ICU.

According to geospatial mapping on the provincial government’s website, Red Deer County sits at 237 active cases, Clearwater County has 216 active, Ponoka County has 211 active, Mountain View County has 153 and Lacombe County has 150.

Sylvan Lake has 105 active cases of the virus, Olds has 99, Lacombe has 98 and the County of Stettler has 83.

The City of Camrose has 87 active, Wetaskiwin has 69, Kneehill County sits at 55, Drumheller has 44 and Camrose County has 25.

Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis, has 183 active cases of COVID-19 and Ponoka, including East Ponoka County has 74.

Rimbey, including West Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County has 73 active.