Northern Alberta home to some of the province's COVID-19 hotspots
EDMONTON -- Northern Alberta is seeing rapid growth in COVID-19 in recent days as the area is now home to three of the provinces' top four regions in active cases adjusted for population.
As of Tuesday morning Smoky Lake County had the highest active case rate per 100,000 residents in all of Alberta with 704.2. The county had 59 active cases with a population of 8,378.
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Smoky Lake Reeve Craig Lukinuk says while most people are following public health restrictions, those rules can be difficult to enforce in rural areas.
"Our RCMP are stretched thin here within our region," Lukinuk said. "We have no control over kids going out and partying ... or what they do in their own person lives."
The North zone's active case count has bucked the downwards trend seen other health zones.
As of Tuesday morning, the North had 859 active cases, more than 120 than the week before.
Across all of Alberta, active cases have steadily fallen, sinking to their lowest point since late October.
Other northern areas Mackenzie County and the Municipal District of Opportunity are also among the province's top five regions in active cases adjusted for population.
The city of Grande Prairie has also seen a recent spike in active cases, with its active case count increasing by 81 over the the last two weeks, bringing its Tuesday morning total to 234 actives.
The North zone has seen 133 deaths, the second highest among the five Alberta health zones behind the more populous Edmonton and Calgary zones.
Alberta Health population figures differ from those found in the official census.
Its interactive data map reflects the postal codes of each patient's address and the local geographic areas it displays may not perfectly align with municipal boundaries.
"Some population estimates for towns or city areas on the geospatial map may be slightly higher than what they should be," Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan wrote in an email to CTV News.
"This primarily occurs when people living in rural areas with new postal codes haven’t yet updated their address of residence with Alberta Health or when they use a PO Box rather than their home address."
He added smaller regions are incorporated into corresponding rural areas, increasing their population for tabulation purposes.