The Alberta model for COVID-19 isn’t reality, and reality keeps shifting based on new data and the continuing stringent efforts on behalf of more and more people to reduce the curve.
That was the message offered during brief remarks at Wednesday’s daily pandemic update by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health. The model projecting Alberta's COVID-19 impacts will continue to evolve just as the situation evolves, bringing new information to the medical and scientific community.
“The most important factor in how big or small the impact of COVID-19 is in this province is the behaviour of each and every one of us. This cannot be stressed enough. If Albertans stop following public health restrictions and guidelines, we can expect to experience a higher impact than the data currently suggests,” she began.
“If Albertans strictly follow all public health guidance, we collectively can further reduce the impact from what the modeling is currently predicting. To the people who might look at the scenarios presented today and think, ‘Well, those aren't that bad,’ I want you to remember that every person who is in hospital, every person who passes away, is beloved by family and friends, and is a loss. This is not the time to relax our approach.”
For those on the opposite end of the spectrum who see the data as “frighteningly high,” she said heightened vigilance can and will make an increasingly positive effect on how things actually play out.
The modelling released yesterday showed a ‘probable’ scenario of 800,000 total infections in the province with 400 to 3,100 deaths. The peak of the pandemic in the province would occur in the middle of next month.
The province also released ‘elevated’ and ‘extreme’ scenarios showing 1.06 million infections with up to 6,600 deaths and 1.6 million infections with up to 32,000 deaths, respectively.
Current figures show there are now 1,423 people with confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses in Alberta, 50 more than yesterday. There are also 29 deaths, an increase of three since Tuesday.
“We can change the outcome. Remember that the modelling is giving us the total number of anticipated infections in the whole population, not just the confirmed cases. That makes the numbers higher than what we have seen in other countries who are reporting their confirmed cases. It's also based on assumption that every COVID case spreads infection to one or two other people. We can collectively reduce that. Changing our total infections in the province is in our hands. Every action makes a difference.”
Testing has now been expanded province-wide to anyone working in essential services who exhibits any of the following symptoms: cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat, or shortness of breath. Anyone else with any of those symptoms and who also lives with a person who is 65 years of age or older is also eligible for testing.
People who meet those criteria should use the online Alberta Health Services assessment tool as the way to access testing.
“While increasing testing is an important step to help identify people with COVID-19, in order to do contact tracing and prevent spread, I want to reiterate that the best way to contain this outbreak is by all of us staying home as much as possible, and thereby limiting our chances of catching the virus.”