It was a grim day in Alberta Sunday as the province reported 19 new deaths connected to COVID-19, as well as 1,836 new cases.
Of the 19 reported deaths, eight were from the outbreak at Capital Care in Lynnwood in Edmonton. They included three men in their 70s, two men in their 90s, a woman in her 80s, a woman in her 90s and a woman in her 100s.
Alberta Health reported it was not known at this time if the woman in her 100s had comorbidities, while the other seven deaths at that care home involved individuals with comorbidities.
Dr. Daisy Fung, a family doctor working at Lynwood, described a dire situation.
“The number of deaths, to put it in perspective, has been overwhelming (to) the staff and myself included … to the point where we feel quite helpless,” Fung said.
“We’re crying a lot on the phone with each other and in person as well, and feeling pretty tired and helpless.”
Fung said a number of Lynwood staff — including herself — have tested positive for COVID, which has caused a staffing shortage and additional pressure and stress for those workers who remain.
“I want to use the word apocalyptic. There’s a sombre mood. We’re all quite tired, but we have to work hard. There’s the occasional forced cheerinous, especially for the families and patients that we want to interact with,” Fung said.
There were five other deaths in the Edmonton zone: a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at MacTaggart Place Retirement Residence which included comorbidities, a man his 70s linked to the outbreak at Shepherds Care Vanguard which included comorbidities, a man in his 70s and a man in his 90s, both of which had unknown comorbidities, and a man in his 70s who did not have any known comorbidities.
There were three reported deaths in the Calgary zone: a man in his 80s with unknown comorbidities, a second man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Rockyview General Hospital who also had unknown comorbidities and a woman in her 60s linked to the outbreak at the Bethany care centre whose case included comorbidities.
There were two deaths in the North zone: a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Grande Prairie Care Centre who had comorbidities and a man in his 70s whose passing is linked to the outbreak at Misericordia Community Hospital and included comorbidities.
A man in his 80s died in the Central zone. His death included comorbidities and was linked to the outbreak at Consort Senior Citizen’s Lodge.
The 19 new deaths were the second highest that have been reported in one day since the pandemic began and have brought the provincial fatality number to 615.
The 1,836 new cases reported Sunday brought the active COVID-19 case total in Alberta to 19,484. The total includes 601 people in hospital and 100 in ICU.
Alberta Health reported 23,435 tests during the 24-hour period, which resulted in a positivity rate of 7.8 per cent.
On Twitter, Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw asked Albertans to help keep health-care facilities safe.
Hinshaw’s tweet included a video X-Ray technologist and COVID screener Chris Novak who said there have been visitors who have claimed they were not COVID-positive, only to test positive for the virus.
“You’re putting people that are close to you in jeopardy, people that you don’t even know in jeopardy and yourself in jeopardy as well,” Novak said in the video.
“Take the precautions and tell the truth.”
Novak said dealing with the public as a COVID-screener has been challenging as some visitors have been “a little difficult to deal with.”
Hinshaw also asked Albertans to meet outdoors if they feel the need to socialize with those outside their household.
Meanwhile, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson used Twitter Sunday morning to call for the province to implement stricter measures.
During an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson Sunday morning, Health Minister Tyler Shandro rejected suggestions Alberta’s spiking coronavirus cases have been the result of the province moving too slowly or not being tough enough in implementing restrictions.
“The measures that we have imposed so far have been looking at the evidence that we see not just in Alberta, but also throughout the world, including in Asia and Europe and in the United States,” Shandro said.
Shandro defended the decision to keep retail open and to continue to allow indoor dining at restaurants.
He said the province hasn’t seen evidence of a high enough rate of spread among those facilities to warrant shutting them down.
“The main worry we have this time is in social gatherings. And that’s exactly where we directed our measures when we announced previously and where we’ll continue to review that evidence with our public health officials.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has also urged the province to take “bold action” to get a grip on rapidly-spreading infections.
Alberta brought in a second state of public health emergency in response to the rising cases on Nov. 24.
— With files from Amanda Connelly, Global News
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