COVID after four and a half months

Active cases leveling out, but new cases increasing

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

As of July 2, 2020, COVID-19 has been in Alberta for four and a half months. On July 3, there were four new cases in Big Lakes County. The biggest increase in a region by Slave Lake for a while. Slave Lake remained at five cases – all recovered.

In June, there was an increase in the number of new cases in the Alberta Health Services North Zone. On June 12, when Stage 2 of the relaunch started, there were 10 active cases: by June 19 the number of active cases increased to 32. Since then the number of new cases and recovered cases have basically equalled each other, which meant the number of active cases stayed between 32 and 36. It jumped to 38 active from 34 on July 3.

These first four and a half months are just the beginning of living with COVID. On July 2, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said, “COVID-19 is still here. It will be with us all summer, and into the fall, and it will almost certainly be here when we ring in the New Year.

“In Alberta, we continue to identify cases in all age groups, and have seen a particular increase in those aged 20-39. In the last month alone, we have seen family barbeques, funerals, birthday parties and other get-togethers lead to dozens of new cases.

“The good news is that we are not powerless. It is on us to decide what the rest of 2020 will look like.

“We must learn to live with this virus by building good practices into our everyday lives.”

COVID-19 arrived in the North Zone on March 16, with two cases – one in Grouard.

In mid-March, various businesses, and social gatherings were closed to help ‘flatten the curve’ i.e. reduce the speed in which the virus was spreading.

By May 14, the number of new cases was low enough that some businesses and organizations were allowed to reopen in Stage 1 of Alberta’s Relaunch. This coincides with Week 11 (May 15 to 22). At this time, both the top and bottom left graphs show that the number of new North Zone cases were very low. They didn’t increase quickly in Stage 1.

On June 12, the second stage of Alberta’s relaunch started, which allowed more businesses to open and larger gatherings of people. This coincides with Week 15 (June 12 to 18). Shortly after this, the number of new cases slowly started to increase.

On June 12, there were 10 active cases in the North Zone. On June 14, there were 12 new cases. This was the biggest number of new cases in the North Zone since April 26 (15 new). The only other day with 15 was March 27. On June 29, there were also 11 new cases, but these two days were anomalies as in general the number of new cases ranged from zero to seven, with most between zero and three.

Since the May cases were low, the number of recovered cases kept pace with the new cases after an initial increase from June 12 to 19.

The numbers of hospitalizations remained relatively level, with between four and five people in hospital. By the end of June, one of these people was in intensive care unit (ICU).

North Zone cases active (purple), recovered (green), and died (red) by week the infection was reported. The weeks are calculated from Friday to Thursday, because the first case was on a Friday, March 6.
The first North Zone case was reported to AHS on March 16. However, the last death was on May 26 (and of someone who contracted the disease in April). At that time, there were outbreaks in two seniors’ care facilities in the North Zone. Since these outbreaks were closed, there have been no new North Zone deaths.
This graph shows that after a lull in May and early June, the number of new cases is increasing.
Note: on this graph deaths are recorded by week of infection, not week of death. Also, the final week is missing one day, so the most recent numbers may be higher.
The North Zone curve. Line and bar graph with all North Zone cases and deaths, as of July 1. (Cases are by day reported and deaths by the day the person died). Week 1 starts on March 6 (Friday) which was the day of the first case in Alberta. The first North Zone case was in Week 2.
The purple line and blue bars track cases. The red line and bars track deaths. The last North Zone death was on May 26.
As of July 3, there were 38 active cases in seven regions. The closest regions were Big Lakes County (five) and Smoky River (one).
Since Stage 2 started on June 12, there were 10 active cases. On June 19, there were 32 cases in four regions, which shows that not all cases are confined to one area. From then until July 2, this remained between 32 and 36 cases. On July 3, it increased to 38. This is because the new cases had increased at about the same rate as the old cases had recovered. With the recent increase in cases, the number of active cases will likely either stay at this level or increase.

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