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Alberta faces ‘public health emergency’

Shannon Phillips
Shannon Phillips

As the number of COVID-19 cases soared in southwestern Alberta and with an outbreak at Pioneer Lodge, the NDP called for action from the government.

Lethbridge MLA Shannon Phillips urged the province to adopt vaccine passports to compel more people to get vaccinated.

“At this point in time, we have a public health emergency,” Phillips said in a news conference at the Galt Museum. “Our hospitals are full. People are dying.”

Alberta has averaged 1,293 new COVID-19 cases a day over the past week.

There are 18,395 active cases in the province with 803 people in hospital and 198 in intensive care units. A total of 2,462 people have died.

In Fort Macleod and district there are 52 active COVID-19 cases, bringing to 390 the total since the pandemic started. Six people have died.

Alberta Health Services declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Pioneer Lodge in Fort Macleod.

Cardston-Kainai has 154 active cases, County of Lethbridge has 121, Pincher Creek has 61, Claresholm has 43, Crowsnest Pass has 15.

“COVID-19 cases are exploding across the province and that has meant hospitals are bursting at the seams,” Phillips said. “Albertans are dying.”

In Alberta, just over 70 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated with two doses.

Less than 50 per cent of people in Fort Macleod and district have received even one dose of vaccine.

Less than 45 per cent of the eligible population in Fort Macleod and district have received two doses.

The lowest uptake in vaccine in Fort Macleod and district is among people aged 12-39 years.

Most of the people in hospital seeking treatment for COVID-19 are not vaccinated.

“Our intensive care units are at capacity because two of every three beds are now being taken by COVID patients,” Philips said.

The government on Thursday introduced plans to move patients from hospital into long-term care settings to free up more beds.

Phillips criticized the measures introduced last week by the government, saying there is no way to safely and quickly move 400 people out of hospital into other care settings.

“Albertans were looking for courage,” Phillips said. “Yesterday, all we got was more cowardice from the UCP government.”

The province also cancelled surgeries to free up hospital beds and resources to deal with the fourth wave of the pandemic.

“There is an obvious step the province can take to slow that spread and also to safeguard economic growth and that’s a vaccine passport,” Phillips said. “Every other major province is bringing these in.”

The NDP a week earlier had called for Alberta to adopt an electronic vaccine passport on smart phones that can be scanned.

Phillips said vaccine passports has resulted in more people getting vaccinated so they can attend large public gatherings like sports and concerts.

“Our health care system is in crisis, and we are not seeing a crisis response from (Premier) Jason Kenney or anyone else on his team,” Phillips said. “We’ve seen cowardice. It’s a slow and painful arch into catastrophe.”

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