Dr. Hinshaw Highlights Downward Covid-19 Trends

Dr. Hinshaw Highlights Downward Covid-19 Trends

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

Dr. Deena Hinshaw delivered her 174th Covid-19 update on February 2 where she discussed some of the positive trends.

Hinshaw began by talking about long-term care facilities, which have among the highest risks of severe outcomes from the virus. Two out of every three deaths have been in a long-term care or designated supportive living facility. Over the last few months, we have seen a sharp decline in our long-term care cases.

The number of cases have gone from a high of 776 cases in long-term care on December 27 to 63 active cases on February 20; a 92 percent decline in less than two months. Similarly, the number of long-term care outbreaks with active cases has dropped from 74 on December 20 to just five on February 16.

Every one of us should take pride in this turnaround, as it is the result of not only our immunization campaign, but also of our collective efforts to bring our new case numbers down.

The same steep decline is seen in Designated Supportive Living facilities. On Christmas Day, we reached a peak of more than 1,300 active cases in these settings. Over the last seven weeks, cases in these facilities have declined by 88 percent.

These emphasize for us both that the public health measures have worked, and that vaccines can have a tremendous protective effect for those who are most at risk. I want to thank the staff and residents in those continuing care and designated supportive living facilities for all of their work.

I also know that over the past many months, we have also seen some concerning outbreaks in our hospitals, as well as a significant rise in the number of Albertans needing hospital care for COVID-19.

Together, we have brought those numbers down as well, and both outbreaks in acute care and cases needing hospital admissions have declined thanks to prevention of transmission in the community. From 27 acute care outbreaks at the start of January, we are now down to just 8. This is due to the hard work of many dedicated health care professionals across the province.

I want to thank everyone who has worked to keep patients safe, as well as apply the learnings from early outbreaks to acute care settings across the province.

The number of new and active cases in school-aged Albertans has gone down since classes resumed in person. While there are some day-to-day fluctuations in new cases, the overall trend is downward since students returned to school in person.

Looking at active cases, on January 11, there were more than 2,000 in this age group and six weeks later, there were 747. That’s a decline of 63 percent since schools reopened for in-person learning, and it’s because together we have reduced our community transmission and because students, teachers, school staff and parents have worked every day to keep their schools safe.

We have seen a downward trend in the number of deaths reported – from averaging a high of 167 deaths a week at the end of December to 23 over the last seven days.

This is the power of our actions together. This is the power of each of us, every day, limiting our in-person contacts with other people.

These trends were not inevitable, and are not due to just the passing of time. These trends are the result of our willingness to put our communities’ needs first and care for each other every day.

The progress that we have made is not guaranteed to last unless our actions stay consistent. COVID-19 still poses a threat to our province and our choices still deeply matter.

Our cases are starting to plateau instead of continuing to drop. We are seeing steady numbers of new variant cases. Our vaccination campaign needs several more months to reach the majority of our population.

All this means we must be extra-cautious. If given the chance, this virus will spread widely and we risk losing the gains that we have made together.

The downward trends we are seeing in schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities and other settings serve as a reminder that we have the power to limit transmission when every one of us limits our in person interactions, and when we all follow not only the details of the restrictions in place, but also the spirit of them.

With pressure easing on the health system and more vaccines arriving each day, we are making progress. But we must continue to contain the spread of this virus for a little while longer. We have come far, but we have more work to do.

Cases in the province will rise or fall based on the actions that each of us takes in the days and weeks ahead.  We can do this. We have done this, in fact, and let us take courage from that fact as we face the next few months. Let’s keep working together to keep bending the curve down until vaccines are here for everyone who wants them, and we can celebrate what we have accomplished together.

Lives saved. Hospitals kept from overflowing. Our communities protected. We can do this together.”