As Red Deer city council prepares to debate the benefits and drawbacks of masks, a local doctor says the face coverings are just a matter of time.
This week, council voted to hold a special meeting Monday to discuss taking stronger health measures, including a possible mask bylaw.
“Wearing masks is going to become more and more relevant. A lot of people don’t want to do it, and don’t want to be forced to do it.
“Unfortunately, sometimes, you have to do something to try and protect everybody else,” said Dr. Peter Bouch, a family doctor with Red Deer Primary Care Network.
He said communities such as Edmonton, Calgary, Banff and Canmore already require residents and visitors to wear masks in public.
“It has been shown to be effective. People can do it. It’s not an impossible task.”
And people really need to stay at home as well, if they have COVID, or if they are awaiting test results, he said.
“Even if they are asymptomatic and waiting for their test, they should be staying at home. They shouldn’t be wandering around.”
Some Alberta doctors are calling on the province to declare a short shutdown to temper the growth in COVID cases.
“I have no easy answer. If it was an easy answer, everybody would have it,” Bouch said.
“We’ll have to see how the numbers do in the next few days. Some of the hospitals are getting overloaded. The more patients in hospital, the survival rate does go down, because the system is overloaded and people are working too hard and there’s not enough beds.”
He said socio-economic factors must also be considered, but if a shutdown is announced, it would have to be provincewide.
“If the whole province doesn’t do it, it’s going to put more stress on the areas that don’t do it, because people are going to come here and go to restaurants. It will put a strain on Red Deer.”
He said so far, the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has handled the pandemic quite well. Preparations paid off.
“If it goes on, and numbers keep on getting higher and higher, it’s going to be difficult. So far, (Red Deer hospital) really hasn’t used a lot of the reserves they had available to them.”