Alberta adds 1,227 COVID-19 cases; peace officers to enforce new restrictions
EDMONTON -- Alberta’s top doctor reported 1,227 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths linked to the disease.
The positivity rate for Thursday was 7.6 per cent after provincial labs conducted more than 16,200 tests.
Of the 14,217 Albertans diagnosed with COVID-19, 405 are in hospital, with 86 of them in ICU.
With new business restrictions effective Friday, Alberta’s justice minister and solicitor general, Kaycee Madu, announced provincial and municipal peace officers would enforce the COVID-19 measures announced Tuesday.
“We are simply making sure that more enforcement is available to respond quickly and decisively to situations where groups are breaking public health measures, and thereby endangered the health of the community,” Madu said.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, pleaded with Albertans to respect peace officers after she heard reports of criticism and verbal abuse against them.
“I know the restrictions currently placed on all of us are difficult but they are not the fault of law enforcement and inspectors who are simply trying to enforce what is in place and to help to the spread,” Dr. Hinshaw said.
Fines start at $1,000 and can go as high as $100,000, he added.
RESTRICTIONS, TRAGIC MILESTONES AND BETRAYAL: ALBERTA’S WEEK IN COVID-19
Albertans might look back on November as the month to remember, or forget, in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prompted by daily records of cases and deaths, on Nov. 16, Hinshaw admitted “we are in the second wave.”
Things have only gotten worse since, with Alberta adding more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus on each of the past eight days and struggling to keep up with contact tracing.
This week began with the chief medical officer of health announcing she would give daily updates and meet with government officials to offer more recommendations they would reveal on Tuesday.
The eight-hour meeting resulted with Premier Jason Kenney calling a state of public health emergency, banning indoor gatherings, limiting outdoor gatherings, weddings and funerals to 10 people, and sending students in Grade 7-12 to learn online until at least January.
The premier allowed restaurants and pubs to stay open, as long as Albertans only sit with people in their household or their two-close contacts, if they live alone.
“If we do not start to bend the curve with this latest round of measures and greater effort by Albertans, let me be blunt: We will impose stricter measures, likely in about three weeks’ time,” Kenney said.
Rachel Notley, the leader of the NDP, said Tuesday’s restrictions are “simply not enough.”
To add to November’s records, Alberta surpassed 50,000 total cases of COVID-19 and 500 deaths on Wednesday.
Dr. Hinshaw called the death toll a tragic milestone and limited visitor access to acute care facilities with outbreaks in communities with high case rates to protect Alberta’s most vulnerable to disease.
The ninth month of the pandemic has been Alberta’s deadliest, with 193 casualties.
As the last full week of November crawled to an end, Dr. Hinshaw addressed CBC News’ report that cited secret recordings hours of meetings between her and cabinet members earlier in the pandemic.
She called the leaks a “personal betrayal and a betrayal of trust.”
“I am profoundly disappointed that confidential internal conversations have been shared, actions that are a violation of the public service oath and code of conduct.”
Hinshaw doesn’t know who leaked the recordings and said an investigation is underway.