The month of April arrived with COVID-19 virus situation dominating pretty much everything. It also arrived under a couple of feet of fresh snow, which could be interpreted as nature’s way of telling us to just stay at home.
The Lesser Slave region saw its first death due to the virus – Shawn Auger of Grouard. Otherwise, the number of confirmed infections in Slave Lake grew from two to four at the end of the week. The numbers grew also in the AHS North Zone generally. A second North Zone death was reported in McLennan on April 2. A third and a fourth happened in the next couple of days, but the locations were not announced.
The latest numbers (released on Sunday) were nine new cases in the North Zone, bringing the total to 77.
Six of the 17 new North Zone cases reported on Friday were in the Falher zone, which includes McLennan. It has the most cases in the north zone, at 18.
Understanding the numbers
Since testing started it took up to four days to get test results back. This rate was slowed the week before last. Over the last week, the provincial lab has been catching up on a backlog of cases.
It is possible that the large number of cases recently in the north zone reflects this backlog. However, this is not the largest number of North zone cases. The largest number of new cases in the North zone was on March 27, with 16 new cases.
Otherwise, since the first two cases on March 16, 10 days after cases were confirmed in Calgary, the number of North Zone cases has increased from zero to six new cases a day.
The North Zone numbers and the numbers in each region include current cases, potentially recovered cases, and deaths.
There are no confirmed deaths in Slave Lake. In the neighbouring health regions of High Prairie and Falher, the deceased are included in the numbers.
There are times when the numbers decrease. This does not mean someone has recovered or died.
A decrease in the number of cases in a region, says provincial government spokesperson John Muir, likely means that the person’s address was entered wrong or they no longer live in the area. It does not mean, he continues, that someone has recovered, as the interactive map on covid19stats.alberta.ca keeps a running tally of cases.
For example, the first cases in Slave Lake were on March 20. On March 28, Slave Lake numbers decreased from three to two.
On April 3, the number went back up to three and on the 4th to four.
The same thing has happened in the High Prairie region, Jasper and a few others. It is not cause for concern or hope.
Messages from the mayor of Slave Lake and reeve of the M.D. of Lesser Slave River were consistent with what they have been saying all along. Stay home if you can. Wash your hands often. Keep your distance, etc. We will get through this.
In other local pandemic news, shortages began to appear, and not just of toilet paper on store shelves. On March 31, Slave Lake town councillor Rebecca King put out a plea for help for the seniors’ lodge. It was running short of supplies of certain things. It provoked a good response.
Both the RCMP and fire department reported lower than usual numbers of calls over the last few days of March. The big exception for the RCMP was the arrest on March 27 of people suspected of being involved in the March 21 ATM theft from Slave Lake’s Fas Gas.
“Very minimal calls,” said Sgt. Don Racette on the last day of the month.
“Slow down and take it easy.”
The RCMP and fire department joined other providers of emergency services in a show of gratitude and support for front-line workers on April 1, and it was no joke. They paraded past the hospital in Slave Lake and carried on down through downtown and south on Main St., lights flashing.
One local organization hit hard is the Slave Lake Gymnastics Club. Unable to operate for the time being, it was facing a cash-flow crisis – the same as many businesses. The club executive put out a plea for help.