‘It’s extremely serious’: Lethbridge, Alta. mayor concerned over rise in COVID-19 cases

CALGARY — Alberta’s top doctor says an increase of COVID-19 cases, along with two major outbreaks, has health officials concerned about the spread of infection in Lethbridge.

Earlier this week, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the city recently reported a massive increase in the number of cases.

According to the latest information, there are 502 active cases in Lethbridge.

It’s a sobering statistic that speaks volumes about the size of the problem facing city officials.

To make matters worse, there are two significant outbreaks in Lethbridge: one at Grandview Village, an adult-only condominium, and another at Sunrise Poultry Processors.

Alberta Health says 22 cases of COVID-19 have been reported at Grandview. Fourteen of them are active while seven people have recovered.

One resident at the facility has died due to complications of the disease.

There have been 80 cases of COVID-19 detected at Sunrise, of which 39 are still active.

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Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman says residents need to do all they can to prevent the spread of the virus.

“I urge everyone to pay attention to what’s happening here in our city, because it’s not the same as in the other parts of Alberta. It’s extremely serious and every single individual needs to take responsibility.”

INDOOR GATHERINGS A PROBLEM?

On Monday, Hinshaw took note of the difficult situation that Lethbridge was facing and was concerned residents not sticking to the rules could be to blame.

“I can understand people are frustrated, we have had restrictions on indoor social gatherings for many months now, and we are as human beings, social beings, so it’s very difficult to stay away from our friends and from our family for this long,” she said.

However, when the variants of concern come into play, it is a completely different matter, she says.

“If it’s the variant case, it does spread farther and faster than even the typical COVID-19 did,” she said. “We are close. We are just a few months away from being able to offer vaccine to everyone who is at significant risk of hospitalization or death. And until we get there, these kinds of social gatherings are the highest risk type of activity to spread COVID-19.”

She also added that if the situation does not improve in Lethbridge, the province might need to take further steps, such as regional lockdowns, to contain the spread.

“Ultimately, the last thing any of us wants is to have to go backwards,” she said. “And the best way to prevent us having to go backwards, whether regional or province-wide, is for all of us every day to think about our actions, and put our communities first.”

The province’s website states Lethbridge has had 2,777 cases of COVID-19 so far.

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