Edmonton preps for second wave, refocuses on unknowing spread between young adults
EDMONTON -- As Edmonton’s COVID-19 case count remains high, city administration is planning for what some believe is an inevitable second wave.
For weeks, provincial health officials have noted a climb in cases amongst people between 20 and 40 years old in the city.
“The AHS data for our city also states that we’re seeing a spike in cases amongst younger adults in our city who may all be tired of all the public health messages and eager to squeeze out that last bit of summer, and as a result put a side the important public health guidelines we’ve been messaging for months,” Mayor Don Iveson said Thursday, calling for renewed action to flatten the curve and community compassion.
The city is doubling its efforts to inform the age group of the risks of their actions.
“Because of their lifestyles being more social and more mobile and having more cohorts, we need to make sure we can make them aware of the risks, and it may not be a risk that they carry, but they could carry to another individual,” interim city manager Adam Laughlin said.
“It’s really ongoing communication and education efforts but we’re zeroing in on a particular demographic.”
He presented councillors with a model of a potential second wave of cases, which laid out different stages of action the city would take in response if case tallies jumped further.
Currently, Edmonton remains in the first level of response, “limited risk,” despite seeing itself put on a provincial watch list for having more than 50 cases per 100,000 people.
As of Thursday, the city had 526 COVID-19 cases. There are 17 locations in the city which are classified as outbreaks.
Only at Stage 3 in the model would the city again begin increasing restrictions as “the urgency of the required response grows,” Laughlin said.
If Edmonton reached Level 4, the city would reinstate a state of local emergency.
Stage 5, “critical,” would be triggered by a municipal or provincial outbreak status.
The model uses no hard lines.
“Instead, our threshold for progression includes a mix of indicators including epidemiology, risk status, and ongoing advice form the Alberta Health Services’ pandemic team,” Laughlin explained.
In a provincial update the same afternoon, the province’s chief medical officer of health offered a general definition of what Alberta Health would consider a second wave.
“A second wave, so to speak, would really happen if we had uncontrolled spread that accelerated through our province and that we moved into an exponential growth phase that we weren’t controlling,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
She added the province has so far remained in a “slow burn” stage. Her department wants to see cases remain low enough that the spread from each individual infection can be controlled, and there is no significant impact to the health care system.
“It really is all in our hands about whether we have a second wave or not.”
City officials said it was too early to tell what effect Edmonton's mandatory face covering bylaw has had after only one month.
However, the early data suggests there’s been close-to-perfect compliance: 98 per cent in community and rec facilities, 95 per cent on transit, 97 per cent in publicly accessible locations, and 86 per cent in vehicles for hire.
Administration continues to review the exemption card program that was cut short for opportunities to make it more foolproof.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson