COVID-19 'not the only wicked problem we are facing': Hinshaw in new op-ed
After days of unrelenting criticism of Alberta's plan to change its pandemic response, the province's top doctor is again attempting to assure Albertans it's time to rely on the protection of vaccines and live with COVID-19.
"The majority of our public health resources have been directed at the COVID-19 response, as has been necessary. That has come at the cost of not fully working on other threats, like syphilis and opioid deaths," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw wrote in an op-ed shared with media on Wednesday.
"As vaccine coverage has changed the nature of the province-wide risk of COVID-19, it is time, in my opinion, to shift from province-wide extraordinary measures to more targeted and local measures.
"This allows us to start looking at other issues while still continuing COVID-19 protective measures in areas of high risk, and responding to local outbreaks where the health system is under threat."
The letter to Albertans – in which she apologized for leaving some with the impression the pandemic was over or that the public were being left to manage COVID-19 alone – came exactly one week after she announced the province would no longer require close contacts of COVID-19 cases to quarantine and, starting mid-August, move from requiring to recommending quarantine for positive cases. That day, masks will no longer be mandatory in public transit, and two weeks later, COVID-19 tests will only be available to physicians needing a diagnosis to decide patient care.
In Wednesday's op-ed, Hinshaw called testing "every person with a runny nose or sore throat" an extraordinary measure that is especially unsustainable during the fall, and isolation mandates necessary before vaccines but unjustifiable after.
"COVID-19 is a wicked problem; experts don’t always agree on the exact nature of the problem, much less the best approach. But it is not the only wicked problem we are facing together," Hinshaw wrote.
DOCS ASK PROVINCE TO REVERSE DECISION
As of Tuesday, Alberta had roughly 2,200 active cases with 90 Albertans in hospitals and ICUs. The seven-day average for the province's test positivity rate rose to 3.13 per cent, about where it was mid-June. On July 29, the province limited testing to symptomatic individuals only.
Of the eligible population, 76 per cent of Albertans have had a first dose of vaccine, and 65.8 per cent a second.
As Hinshaw reiterated in the op-ed, the province will continue to watch COVID-19 trends and respond to local threats.
Some health care professionals found the letter lacking in scientific data. As the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association noted in an Aug. 4 letter addressed to Premier Jason Kenney, Alberta's rate of transmission sits at its highest yet, at 1.5. It says with an easing of public health measures like masking and the higher transmissibility of the Delta variant, Alberta is likely in the early stages of a fourth wave which could see 1.5 million unvaccinated adults and more than 650,000 unvaccinated children under 12 get sick. It asked the government to hold off on the changes announced by Hinshaw until vaccines are approved for children under 12, 85 per cent of Alberta's total population is fully immunized, and Health Canada declares the pandemic over.
The change in direction of Alberta's COVID-19 response has been loudly criticized by Opposition government members, medical professionals and residents concerned about a looming fourth wave or sending unvaccinated children to school.
Daily rallies protesting the change have been organized at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton as well as in Calgary by an ER physician who characterized the shift as insane and "an experiment."
Some have accused Hinshaw of resisting best scientific evidence by bending to the political whims of Alberta's United Conservative government.
Meanwhile, Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro have coloured the transition as "the inevitable next step" and backed the top doctor.
Kenney said on Tuesday, "I think it's regrettable that we've seen comments attacking the expertise of our brilliant chief medical officer of health… I would call on anybody in a position of authority, especially elected leadership, to show a degree of respect for the chief medical officer of health and the advice she provides."
He said Hinshaw and her team approached his government with the proposal on July 8, which cabinet accepted "without modification."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Matthew Black
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Long-term care outbreaks are rising, and provinces have different strategies for keeping COVID-19 out
As the fourth wave continues across Canada and community spread climbs, outbreaks are also on the rise inside Canada’s long-term care homes, leading experts to stress the importance of staff being vaccinated — an issue which varies province to province.
Inside hospitals across Saskatchewan, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, health-care workers are reporting a worsening crisis, with record-breaking COVID-19 hospitalizations pushing the health-care system to the brink.
Gatineau police say the deaths of a father and his two young children at an Aylmer, Que. home were a double murder-suicide.
An Ontario mother, who had been holding a one-woman protest for the past week to try to get help with her son's autism care, will finally have her file looked at after a call from the social services minister.
Canadian fashion model Linda Evangelista says she's been left 'permanently deformed' from a cosmetic procedure that she had approximately five years ago.
The corporate entities of SNC-Lavalin Inc. and SNC-Lavalin International Inc., as well as two former senior executives of the Quebec-based firms have been charged with a series of fraud and forgery offences by the RCMP.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening a major new phase in the U.S vaccination drive against COVID-19.
A source close to the family of Brian Laundrie says Gabby Petito's fiance, who is now the subject of a federal warrant, left his parents' Florida home last Tuesday without his cell phone and wallet.
Ten months after Donald Trump lost his 2020 reelection bid in Arizona, supporters hired by Arizona Senate Republicans were preparing to deliver the results of an unprecedented partisan election review that is the climax of a bizarre quest to find evidence supporting the former president's false claim that he lost because of fraud.
The Canadian Armed Forces has confirmed that it will be sending resources to help with Alberta's overwhelmed intensive care units.
Alberta reported 1,660 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 new deaths on Thursday.
Alberta Health is investigating whether an Edson party advertising itself as a “get COVID” event to build up natural immunity to the virus actually happened.
Saskatchewan broke COVID-19 hospitalization records again on Thursday, reporting 273 patients in hospital with 58 in intensive care.
Saskatoon City Council will look at a committee recommendation to allow parking patios to operate through the winter, making them a year-round amenity.
A Saskatoon judge has ruled in favor allowing a father to have his child vaccinated despite the mother being opposed to her child getting the shot.
As COVID-19 cases increase in Saskatchewan youth, medical experts say more restrictions are needed in schools to stop the transmission of the virus.
'Unbelievably heartbreaking': Sask. nurse left waiting for transplant as province suspends organ donation program
Krystal Graham has been on the liver transplant waitlist for about a year. Now, she says she is concerned COVID-19 will delay her life-saving surgery even longer.
The Melville Millionaires have postponed hockey games until further notice after a positive COVID-19 case associated with the team.
The first twenty-four hours following New Brunswick's rollout of new pandemic restrictions have been rocky for some of the businesses tasked with enforcing the new rules.
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting the province’s 95th death related to COVID-19, along with 41 new cases and 20 recoveries on Thursday, as the number of active cases in the province rises to 147.
Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 52 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with 35 recoveries, as the number of active cases in the province rises to 574.
A possible loophole in B.C.’s vaccine card registration system is making the rounds on social media.
The Vancouver Canucks are banking on the capacity limits at Rogers Arena being lifted in time for the regular season home opener.
In a significant upset, the long-time Conservative incumbent in Richmond Centre has lost her seat to a political newcomer, according to the CTV News Decision Desk.
An investigation into the shooting of a white cow moose in northern Ontario last fall has been closed and officials say no charges will be laid.
A 17-year-old from Greater Sudbury has been charged with attempted murder in connection with the stabbing of a woman downtown last week.
CTV News has learned Timmins police have a suspect in custody after one person was killed and two others were injured in a shooting in Schumacher overnight.
A Manitoba critical care doctor and infectious diseases specialist remains cautiously optimistic when it comes to the impact of the fourth wave in Manitoba.
Five businesses in Manitoba received tickets last week for not following public health orders.
A multi-car crash on a Manitoba highway on Wednesday resulted in police arresting a driver on impaired driving and weapon charges.
The cases were among 832 new cases found in B.C. over the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health.
The president of the Cedar Hill Golf Club says a report from District of Saanich staff recommending changes to the operation df Cedar Hill Golf Course will hurt the club and its members.
Health officials on Vancouver Island have declared clusters of COVID-19 at four more schools in the South Island. There are now five active clusters at schools in the region.
A youth-led demonstration demanding urgent climate action from leaders in all levels of government is expected today at the Ontario legislature.
The City of Toronto is holding a number of mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics at malls across the city this weekend.
Nick Gordon drove in four runs and Michael Pineda won his third straight start as the Minnesota Twins beat Toronto 7-2 on Thursday night to bump the Blue Jays back in the AL wild-card race.
After just a few hours of debate, Quebec's National Assembly voted unanimously Thursday evening to pass a new bill that would prohibit anti-vaccine protesters from demonstrating near schools, daycares, and hospitals -- an offence punishable by a fine of up to $12,000.
Amid major staff shortages, Quebec will cut large cheques to health-care workers in a bid to strengthen a public network put under serious pressure by the pandemic.
Quebec kids were at the heart of a heated exchange Thursday over language laws -- specifically, English-speaking kids and whether they're really leaving school with functional French.
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is reporting that residents of the Saugeen First Nation were given expired doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for nearly a month before the error was caught.
Someone in Ontario won more than $21 million in Wednesday’s LOTTO 6/49 draw but has yet to check their ticket.
Provincial police are investigating after one person was killed in a farming accident in Norfolk County.
Regional police are investigating a "suspicious death" in Kitchener on Friday morning.
A former Kitchener MP has pleaded guilty to assault charges.
Waterloo Region’s big Bavarian festival officially kicks off on Friday.