by Stephen Dafoe
The absence of Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro from the list of speakers for Monday’s Daily COVID-19 update did not bode well for those looking for the province to slide into Step 3 of Alberta’s limitations. However, Minister Shandro did attend Monday’s news conference and confirmed that Alberta would stay at Step 2 restrictions.
Step 3 of the plan, which requires hospitalizations below 300, would have allowed indoor social gatherings with restrictions, increased capacity at churches, adult team sports, and the reopening of theatres, casinos, museums and interpretive centres.
Although hospitalization numbers are currently below 300, Shandro said now is not the time as numbers are rising once again after weeks of declining tallies.
“This is a warning sign we must take seriously,” Shandro said, noting he anticipates 300 hospitalizations within a week and that not moving to Step 3 is a responsible step.
Shandro went on to say he did not want to ease restrictions today, only to put them back on in a few days.
As of Sunday, Hospitalizations were 282, and ICU was at 47. As of Monday’s update, hospitalizations sat at 280, and ICU was at 48.
The Minister of Health noted currently, half of those in the hospital are under 65 and 90 per cent presently in ICU are under 65.
Ahead of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s Monday update, the NDP Opposition issued a press release calling for restraint.
“Jason Kenney must put the safety of Albertans first and focus on containing the spread of these dangerous new variants,” said Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley. “There is hope on the horizon, and if the government truly believes that every Alberta adult will be offered their first shot by the end of June, then it would be truly irresponsible to put families and businesses at increased risk over the coming weeks.”
During Monday’s update, Dr. Hinshaw said the province could not take the risk of easing restrictions at this time, noting hospitalizations were 270 on Nov 12 and at 927 six weeks later.
Shandro said Step 3 would occur when numbers level off again.
“We just need to hold fast for a little longer,” Shandro said. “We need to stay the course.”
Localized numbers as of Mar. 21 government update has Morinville had no new cases, no more recoveries, for a total of one active case. Sturgeon County had no new cases, no more recoveries, for a total of 15 active cases.
For complete details on provincial numbers, including total active cases, recoveries, lab testing data and comorbidities, visit https://www.alberta.ca/stats/covid-19-alberta-statistics.htm .