CALGARY — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he and the federal Conservative leader did everything reasonable to respect COVID-19 guidelines during a livestream meeting this weekend.
Kenney and Erin O’Toole, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus a month ago and has recovered, sat side-by-side during Saturday’s event and neither leader wore a mask.
The premier told CHQR radio host Danielle Smith in Calgary that he and O’Toole wore masks before going on air and everyone was screened and their temperatures checked.
He says their chairs were measured as being two metres apart, but he admits he and the federal leader may have been slightly closer than that at times.
Kenney noted that TV news anchors don’t wear masks when they’re on the air.
The premier told Smith there is some pressure to toughen restrictions as Alberta’s COVID-19 case count climbs.
“I’m much less concerned about the case count than how that translates into hospitalizations, ICU admissions and of course, worst of all, to COVID-related fatalities,” Kenney told the radio show Monday.
As of Thursday, there were 117 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, including 11 in intensive care, the highest overall hospitalization level yet in the province. A month earlier, there were 46 people in hospital, including 8 in intensive care.
Kenney noted the fatality rate has gone down over the past seven or eight months, but said the most recent spike must be taken seriously.
“As always, our primary goal is to protect our health-care system and avoid it from being overwhelmed like we’ve seen in some parts of the world.”
He said the best way to achieve that is through people exercising personal responsibility and following public health recommendations, not necessarily imposing new restrictions.
“We have to learn to live with COVID. It is going to continue to spread through our population unless and until there is a widespread use of an effective and safe vaccine. We don’t know when that will be,” he said.
“I cannot exclude the possibility that in the future — that if things get really out of control — that we might have to introduce narrowly targeted measures to limit the spread.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 19, 2020.
The Canadian Press