The city of Red Deer has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
In February alone, active COVID-19 cases in the city have jumped above 300, while across the province COVID-19 case numbers are declining.
Friday, Red Deer had 345 active cases, nearly double the 172 active cases it had on Jan. 28. Red Deer’s active case count is nearly half of the entire Central zone, which has 693 active cases.
“This is deeply concerning. Especially considering the overall downward trend being experienced across the rest of the province,” said Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer Friday.
“It’s very clear there are very specific outbreaks that are leading to the rise in local numbers. But it is a very strong reminder of virulent COVID-19 is and how we need to take the protocols seriously to prevent spread.”
Overall, Red Deer has had 2,190 cases of COVID-19, with 1,823 recovered. In Red Deer north, there are 183 active cases, while in Red Deer east there are 107 and 55 in the southwest portion of the city.
Red Deer, as a whole reached a second-wave high of 434 active cases in mid-December, but cases had been on the decline since the most recent spike.
In part, Red Deer’s jump recently can be linked to an outbreak at the Olymel meant packing plant. That outbreak started around Jan. 20 and as of Friday, Alberta Health Services reported 168 active cases were connected to it.
On Feb. 5, when the latest outbreak at the plant was reported, there were 80 active cases connected to Olymel.
AHS has not advised the City of Red Deer to move forward with any additional COVID-19 measures, despite the rising case numbers in the city.
Red Deer, along with Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie are the only municipalities in the province with more than 100 active COVID-19 cases.
Alberta’s R-value, or the average number of people that someone with COVID-19 will infect, sits at 0.87. In both the Calgary and Edmonton zone, that number is 0.82, while in the rest of Alberta that number sits at 0.96.
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that despite lower numbers in some regions, overall the case numbers are still not low enough.
“When we look at our numbers, every health zone is still over that limit of 50 cases per 100,000 that we had been using in the summer and fall to navigate our relaunch,” she said.
“So while some zones may have less cases than others, all zones continue to have a level of cases that continues to be concerning and our towns and cities are all interconnected.”
Veer added that with reopening linked to provincial hospitalizations, Red Deerians need to do their part to reduce the spread of the virus. There are currently 30 people in hospital in the Central zone, and 371 in hospital province-wide.
“We have advocated to the provincial government for the harmonization of their health protocols and restrictions throughout our region, just to make sure there’s a continuity of response,” Veer said.
“Our ability to safely restart our local economy is directly linked to hospitalizations according to the new criteria,” she said. It is imperative we all do as much as we can to reduce our local caseload, above all to protect our capacity at the local hospital.”