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Alberta coronavirus briefing – April 14: Calgary case bump, any relief in sight?

The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is hoping to give Albertans a better understanding of what the future public health measures look like, once more data becomes available.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 138 new cases in Alberta in the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 1,870. There are 44 people in hospital, with 14 admitted to intensive care units. Two more people have died, including one more at the McKenzie Towne long term care centre, bringing the numbers of deaths at that location to 21 out of a total of 48 Alberta deaths.

Of the 1,870 cases, it’s suspected that 276 cases are community acquired. To date, 914 people have recovered.

“While we are seeing a steady rise in recovered cases in the province, we should also expect to see a rise of cases in the coming days as a result of expanded testing,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

Dr. Hinshaw also touched on the troubling numbers at Alberta’s continuing care centres. There have been 214 cases and 30 deaths at these locations around Alberta.

“We can start to become numb to these numbers as time goes on,” she said.

“Each one of these individuals had a life that matters and people who love them and it is in order to prevent further losses that we are focusing measures on these high risk areas.”

Calgary case numbers jump – but majority of tests done in this area

There are currently 1,242 COVID-19 cases in the Calgary Zone – an increase of 128 cases in the past 24 hours.

Dr. Hinshaw has said that it was likely that we’d see an increase in the overall number of cases with increased testing, but also with the focus expansion to the Calgary area. Last week, the province expanded testing to anyone in the Calgary Zone with symptoms due to the number of cases in the area.

The Calgary Zone has three times more cases than the next area – the Edmonton Zone.

While 2,868 tests were done in the past 24 hours, 1835 of them were done in the Calgary Zone, representing 64 per cent of recent tests. Calgary accounts for most new cases. Nearly seven per cent of tests came back positive – an increase over the two per cent average on most tests.

The percentage of tests coming back positive varies from day to day.

When does life get back to normal?

Dr. Hinshaw said most Albertans are likely tired of hearing about COVID-19 and the public health measures associated with it.

“Our hair may be getting shaggy; our tempers may be getting short. And those of us with young children may be running out of ideas and how to entertain them at home. We are missing spending time with friends and family, and many are struggling to make ends meet,” she said.

“I wonder if one of the hardest things to manage is the uncertainty looking forward. And the fact that we can’t yet make plans when we’ll likely return to normalcy. I am guessing that all Albertans want their lives back and as soon as possible.”

Now that they’ve been able to expand testing, Dr. Hinshaw said that will give the province a more robust set of data. She’s hoping that can provide additional guidance on how we’ll be able to move forward.

She said some areas (such as businesses) may see relaxed measures, but large gatherings will likely be restricted for some time. They present a big risk in transmitting the virus.

“I realized this is not welcome news, and I share your frustration with the situation,” she said.