First COVID-19 death in Lesser Slave River

Pearl Lorentzen

Lakeside Leader

On May 18, a man from the M.D. of Lesser Slave River (which includes Slave Lake) died from COVID-19. This is the first Lesser Slave River death, according to information from the Government of Alberta.

However, five people have died within the Slave Lake AHS local geographic area. The other four were likely from Red Earth Creek or Peerless Trout First Nation. On the same day, another man died from Fort McMurray. One was in his 50s and the other in his 60s.

On May 19, a woman from Westlock County in her 60s died from COVID-19, which is just south of Lesser Slave River. From May 15 to 20, five people from the AHS North Zone died from COVID.

The other two North Zone COVID deaths were a man in his 60s (location not confirmed) and a man 80 or older (Lac La Biche).  


Various Slave Lake and area people have been posting on Facebook lately about their or family members’ experiences being hospitalized because of COVID-19. They are urging people to take the pandemic seriously and pray.

“Since the beginning of May, the North and Central Zones have had higher hospitalization rates per capita (rate for population of 100,000) compared to any other region of the province,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta Chief Medical Officer said in a May 17 COVID-19 update. “The North Zone in particular has had hospitalization rates more than double those of Edmonton, Calgary, or South Zones. Among cases diagnosed since February 2021, the case-to-hospitalization ratio is 26 per cent higher for rural areas of Alberta than for urban ones.”

On May 20, there were 77 people in AHS North Zone hospitals for COVID-19. Of these, 13 were in ICU. From May 16 to 20, this number fluctuated from 75 to 92 (13 to 16 in ICU).


Starting May 25, Alberta schools, except those in Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo, will return (by print likely have returned) to in-class learning, says a May 19 Alberta government news release. Health protocols within schools continue.


M.D. of Lesser Slave River cases could be in Slave Lake, Sawridge First Nation, or in the M.D. from Assineau to Flatbush.

Over the six days from May 15 to 20 (active cases on May 20), the COVID situation in Lesser Slave River’s closest neighbours was:

  • Lesser Slave – 15 active (27 recovered & one died) – outbreaks*: drilling rig in Nipisi (old) & Roland Michener Secondary School (old) (as of May 20 – all High Prairie School Division cases had recovered, says Kyle Nichols HPSD communications officer).
  • Big Lakes County – 11 active (one new & 18 recovered) – two schools (old).
  • Westlock County – 70 active (20 new, 32 recovered, & one died) – outbreaks: Westlock Independent Network in Westlock (old) & three schools (old).
  • M.D. of Opportunity – four active (two new & five recovered)
  • Woodlands County – one active (two recovered)
  • Whitecourt – 116 active (52 new & 71 recovered) – outbreaks: one lodge (old) & two schools (old)
  • Athabasca County – 62 active (24 new & 27 recovered) – outbreaks: one lodge (old) & two schools (old)
  • Northern Sunrise County – one active (two new & two recovered).

*outbreaks remain on the list for four weeks after the last case is identified. The threshold for being listed depends on the sector. For example, seniors facilities (such as lodges) are added when there are two or more cases, but businesses (such as drilling rigs) are added when there are 10 or more cases.

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