As COVID-19 cases rise in Alberta, the province announced funds Thursday to help open up health care capacity.
The province reported 1,510 new cases of the virus Thursday afternoon, with an 11 per cent positivity rate. Red Deer now has 492 active of the virus, the fourth-highest total in the province.
The city has 6,649 total cases, with 6,113 recovered cases and 44 deaths.
There are 679 people in hospital, including 154 in ICU across the province. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Hinshaw noted that 91 per cent of those in the ICU are not fully immunized and 75 per cent in hospital outside the ICU are not fully immunized.
“We are in another difficult time in the pandemic, with many dissenting opinions and a lot of anger and fear about the current state,” Hinshaw said.
Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said the government is exploring all options to ramp up health care capacity as the fourth wave of COVID-19 continues to hit the province.
“The Delta variant is continuing to put significant pressure on our health care system and Alberta’s government is working on relieving that pressure by freeing up beds and resources to deal with the rise of patients needing care,” he said.
To try and do so, the government announced that it will provide up to $36 million to improve home care and facility-based continuing care as a way to help open up health care capacity.
In a news release, the government noted that more than 400 Albertans are currently waiting in hospitals to move to continuing care facilities, with more waiting to return home outside of facility-based care with the support of home care services.
They will provide $22 million to contracted home care agencies over two years in additional funding to provide wage increases to their certified health-care aides and $14 million is being provided to expand workforce capacity to support home care and continuing care facilities on a short-term basis until March 31, 2022.
As cases rise, the province also reported nine more deaths due to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours. Over the past 48 hours, the province has reported 27 deaths because of the virus, the highest total of the second wave. There have been 2,434 deaths in the province since the start of the pandemic.
“We have seen many more deaths recently, which reinforces how seriously we need to take the current situation. It is to prevent outcomes like these, that immunizations are so important,” Hinshaw said.
“Vaccines are still making a profound difference. Vaccines, like all other medical interventions, are not perfect. What they can offer, however, is a high level of protection against infection and an even higher level of protection against severe outcomes.”
According to geospatial mapping on the government’s website, Red Deer County has 179 active cases of the virus, Clearwater County has 170, Mountain View County has 128, Ponoka County has 162 and the Town of Olds has 114 active cases. Olds has the 10th highest active case rate in Alberta, with 916.9 cases per 100,000 people.
Sylvan Lake has 79 active cases, Lacombe has 68 active and Camrose has 28.
The County of Stettler has 83 active cases, Kneehill County has 41 active, Camrose County has 63 and Wetaskiwin has 42.
On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County including Maskwacis has 113 and Ponoka, including East Ponoka County has 49 active. Rimbey, including parts of West Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County has 80 active cases.