COVID Weekly: Big Lakes and Northern Sunrise deaths; restrictions ease Feb. 8

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

From January 23 to 29, three people died from COVID in municipalities which border the M.D. of Lesser Slave River and there two new outbreaks nearby. New cases (28) in Lesser Slave (which includes Slave Lake) exceed the number of recoveries (22), with 29 active cases as of Jan. 29.

Starting Feb. 8, some COVID restrictions will be eased.

Restrictions

On Jan. 28, Alberta reached the first hospitalization benchmark for easing restrictions, says an Alberta government news release. This means that starting on Feb. 8, restrictions for restaurants, indoor fitness, and indoor and outdoor children’s sports and performance will be less strict. However, there are still restrictions. These include, but are not limited to: restaurants must collect contact information for people dining in the restaurant. Children’s activities must be related to schools. Indoor fitness can only be one-on-one scheduled training sessions.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalization is the most important factor for easing restrictions, says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. However, other factors such as active case are also being monitored and may result in an increase in restrictions.

Hospitalization benchmarks are Step 1 – 600 and declining, Step 2 – 450 and declining, Step 3 – 300 and declining, and Step 4 – 150 and declining. Each step must be a minimum of three weeks apart.

On Jan. 29, hospitalizations in Alberta were 594, with 110 people in ICU.

In the AHS North Zone, 70 people were in hospital, with nine in ICU. This was less than at the beginning of the week. On Sunday, January 24, there were 72 people in hospital, with eight in ICU. This is still many more people than a few months ago. For example on November 29, there were 28 people in hospital in the North Zone, with two in ICU.

Outbreaks

On Jan. 26, an outbreak was announced at Keekenow Senior Facility, in Wabasca. There was also an outbreak at Ed’s Auto Salvage in Westlock, but a previous outbreak at a long term care in Westlock was off the books.

Deaths

Last week, 17 more deaths were reported in the AHS North Zone. This was the most deaths in a week since the pandemic started in March 2020.

Graphs built by Leader staff with data from alberta.ca. Two other graphs are at the bottom of the article.

Three of the deceased lived near Slave Lake – two in Big Lakes County (west) and one in Northern Sunrise County (northwest). The age and gender of these people can’t be confirmed, as other people died in the AHS North Zone on the same days.

These people were the first person to die from COVID-19 in the Northern Sunrise and the eighth and ninth in Big Lakes.

The 17 people who died were from Big Lakes (x2), Northern Sunrise, City of Grande Prairie (x4), Smoky Lake County (x3), Lac La Biche (x3), Yellowhead County, Lac Ste. Anne County, M.D. of Bonnyville, and M.D. of Greenview.

The deceased were a man in his 40s (the first in the AHS North Zone), three men and two women in their 60s, two men and two women in their 70s, and four men and three women 80 or older.

Nearby

As of Jan. 29, Lesser Slave River and neighbours active cases and changes over the week were:

  • Lesser Slave – 29 cases (23 new & 22 recovered)
  • Big Lakes – 40 cases (10 new, 68 recovered, & two new deaths) – High Prairie Healthcare Centre outbreak (several weeks old).
  • Westlock County – 11 cases (four new & six recovered)
  • M.D. of Opportunity – 70 cases (40 new & 35 recovered) – outbreak at Keekenow Senior Facility (new) and two to four cases in Mistassiniy School in Wabasca (at least a week old).
  • Woodlands County – one (one new & four recovered)
  • Whitecourt – 19 cases (10 new & seven recovered)
  • Athabasca County – 23 cases (13 new & seven recovered) – two to four cases at Boyle School.
  • Northern Sunrise- three cases (three new, 20 recovered, & one new death)

Communities with populations under 10,000 are included within the county or M.D. Therefore, the Lesser Slave cases could be in the Town of Slave Lake, Sawridge First Nation, or the M.D. from Assineau to Flatbush.

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