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COVID-19 cases drop in St. Albert after weekend spike

“Our schools tend to reflect what's going on in the community at large. So the more cases that are out there, the more we'll see in our schools."
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Data from the province on Tuesday showed 230 active COVID-19 cases in St. Albert.

COVID-19 cases in St. Albert have risen, and so have cases in schools, says the St. Albert Public School Board.

On Monday, the school board sent out a tweet reminding parents to keep their kids home if they have any symptoms.

“We just want to remind parents (and) families to continue to remain vigilant and not send their children to school (or on the bus) if they are unwell. We need to keep our schools open and our students safely in class as much as possible, and we need the help of families to do that,” spokesperson Paula Power said in an email.

In St. Albert, COVID-19 numbers jumped sharply over the weekend before falling again on Tuesday. On Friday, active cases in the city sat at 191; by Monday, active cases jumped to 245. Overall, there were 79 new cases diagnosed over the three-day period while another 25 residents recovered.

Active cases declined to 230 by Tuesday.

Power said when cases get high in the community, they are brought into the classroom.

“Our schools tend to reflect what's going on in the community at large. So the more cases that are out there, the more we'll see in our schools,” Power said.

Right now, the schools are not at a place where they are considering moving online but Power said situations can change rapidly during COVID-19.

“We aren't at the point where we are considering asking the Education Minister to allow us to move some or all of our schools online right now. We are holding steady, for the most part. However, we all know how rapidly things can change,” Power said.

In Sturgeon County, active cases sat at 97 on Tuesday, down from 105 reported on Friday. Morinville had 38 active cases on Monday, down from the 44 reported on Friday.

Across Alberta, cases are hitting a nearly all-time high, with another 1,539 cases diagnosed overnight, bringing the total active cases to 20.721, which is the second highest active cases the province has seen since the pandemic began 14 months ago.

“There is no one source or sector describing the spread that we're seeing. It would be simpler if there were just one cause,”  Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday.

“Instead, the virus is spreading through all of us, and the many in-person get togethers, meetups and other interactions that we have with other people every day.”

The positivity rate on Tuesday was the highest seen since the pandemic started, sitting at 11.3 per cent.

“I remain concerned about the cases and the trends,” Hinshaw said.

On Tuesday, 812 new variants of concern were identified, making up 63 per cent of all active cases.

The R value across the province (the number of infections each infected person causes) is sitting at 1.04. In Edmonton, the number is the highest at 1.1, Calgary sits at 0.98 and the rest of Alberta is at 1.05.

“Our numbers are still very high and it's important to underline that cases are still growing, especially in Edmonton,” Hinshaw said.

“Simply put, we are still heading in the wrong direction.”

There are now active alerts or outbreaks in 712 schools, which represents 29 per cent of schools in the province.

Hospitalizations continue to climb with 635 people currently hospitalized and 143 of them in intensive care.

Another seven deaths from COVID-19 were reported overnight.

Alberta has now administered more than 1.46 million doses of vaccine in Alberta, including almost 30,000 in the last 24 hours. Around 26 per cent of the people in the province have received at least one dose of this vaccine and about six per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney along with Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro announced they would ease restrictions on visitors to long term care homes starting May 10, allowing each resident to have four designated visitors, up from the current two visitors.

Active cases in long term care centres have dropped from a peak of 831 on Dec. 27 2020 to 44 on April 24, Kenney said. Hospitalizations for those in care have dropped by 93 cent and deaths have dropped by 94 per cent.

"I want to emphasize that this is a safe and prudent step forward," Kenney said.

"We're not getting rid of all of the restrictions at continuing-care facilities. There will continue to be limits on who can visit and how many, and strong outbreak protocols will remain in place.”

Kenney said there are no risk-free options but they have heard from residents that they want the change in visitation.  

On Monday, Kenney also announced they would begin vaccinating children born between 2006 and 2009 with underlying health conditions. As of Tuesday, kids between the age of 12 and 15 who are at risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 will receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Newspapers based in St. Albert, Alta.
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