EDMONTON -- As the virus spreads well beyond Alberta’s largest urban centres, physicians in smaller communities are reminding the public that while their case counts may be lower, it’d be a mistake to forget about the rate of spread.

Banff has 170 cases of COVID-19. Compared Calgary’s 4,100, or Edmonton’s 5,071, that number could be seen as relatively small.

But with only 13,850 residents, Banff’s rate of active cases per population of 100,000 is much higher than either metropolis: 1,227.6.

Calgary’s rate of cases is just 304.2 per 100,000 and Edmonton sits 496.4.

Even Edmonton’s hardest-hit neighbourhood, Castle Downs, has 693.4 cases per 100,000.

“That’s one of the highest rates per capita in Alberta – so that’s not great,” Canmore family physician Liana Hwang commented.

In fact, Banff’s rate of cases was Alberta’s second-highest as of Thursday.

The town has declared a local state of emergency in response, but the mountain vacation spot known across Canada is not unlike dozens of other small, lesser-known communities.

Southern Alberta’s Acadia municipal district has the highest active case rate in Alberta, with 1,358.1 cases per 100,000. Just 368 people live in the district northeast of Medicine Hat, but there are five cases in its boundaries.

In Smoky Lake County northwest of Edmonton, there are 748.1 cases per 100,000. There are 57 cases there amongst just over 8,400 residents.

And in central Alberta, Ponoka County has an active case rate of 811.9 per 100,000 – 223 cases amongst 27,468 residents.

“Per capita rate is really important because it takes away how big or small a centre is,” Dr. Amy Tan said.

And, she added, spread occurs in rural areas differently.

“Rural Albertans don’t really bat an eye at an hour or two-hour drive.”

With a report from CTV News Edmonton’s Carlyle Fiset