Alberta health says ‘curve no longer flat’ in fight against COVID-19

Alberta health officials are now struggling with hundreds of new cases of COVID-19 and say the curve against the deadly virus is “no longer flat.”

Over the weekend, more than 300 new cases were reported. Eight people died from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Now, Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is pleading with Albertans to follow health orders.

“We continue to identify high numbers of cases across the province,” she said. “As we see in the case numbers, the curve is no longer flat in Alberta.”

In just four days, active cases increased to over 1,400 across the province.

While there haven’t been any reports of outbreaks in Indigenous communities, cases in Alberta’s larger centres continue to climb with 500 in Calgary and 200 in Edmonton.

“This is a heartbreaking number to report,” said Hinshaw.

Alberta currently has had 10,390 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – while 8,774 people have recovered. A total of 196 people have died from the virus.

Hinshaw said it’s still necessary to wear masks and maintain physical distancing.

Masks will be mandatory in all public spaces in Calgary starting Aug. 1.

“I know many are tired of hearing me say that COVID-19 is not over, sometimes I’m tired of saying it, the truth is that COVID-19 is still here,” Hinshaw warned.

Metis settlements can apply for money under $1 billion pandemic fund

Municipalities in the province that have been economically thrashed by the COVID-19 pandemic are receiving more than $1 billion in support from other levels of government.

The funds include $500 million in provincial money for shovel-ready infrastructure projects starting this year _ part of Alberta’s multibillion-dollar recovery plan.

Municipalities and Metis settlements can start applying for funding to build roads, bridges and other infrastructure that would not have been built otherwise this year or next.

Alberta and Ottawa are also together contributing more than $600 million for municipal and transit operating costs under the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.

Premier Jason Kenney says he knows these are eye-popping numbers that represent a lot of borrowed money.

He says this year’s provincial budget deficit is expected to exceed $20 billion.

“All of this will lead to a great fiscal reckoning. But right now, in the face of the deepest jobs crisis in nearly a century, we must prudently leverage the province’s balance sheet to diversify and to create jobs, to build and to ensure a strong economic future,” Kenney said Tuesday.

“Because if we don’t get people back to work, if we don’t restore investor confidence and get our economy growing again, the fiscal challenge will become insurmountable. So jobs and the economy must come first.”

A fiscal update is expected in about a month, Kenney said.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said his city is expected to take a $172-million hit this year from rising costs and plummeting revenues, and has had to make deep service and staff cuts.

“This relief announcement is a validation of what mayors have been saying for months: That economic recovery itself is at risk in our communities without financial support for municipalities,” he said.

“A quick and complete recovery for our province depends immensely on the ability of our cities and towns and our counties to recover confidently and continue, especially in the big cities, to provide services like transit at service levels that reduce crowding.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s always been proud that his city hasn’t needed outside support for its operating budget until now.

But he said Calgary is looking at a $400-million deficit this year and that it, too, has resorted to mass layoffs and service cuts.

Ridership on Calgary’s light-rail transit system was down as much as 90 per cent during the pandemic, Nenshi noted.

“This pandemic has been terrible. It has been terrible for so many of us … and it will be terrible in ways that we haven’t yet realized,” he said.

“But today’s announcement gives citizens the confidence that the three orders of government are working together, because we get through this the way we always get through things _ and that is together.”

Video Journalist / Calgary

Tamara is Métis from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She received a diploma in interactive media arts at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon and has worked as a videographer for CBC in Winnipeg and Iqaluit. Tamara was hired by APTN in 2016 as a camera/editor and is now a video journalist in our Calgary bureau.