With the highest COVID-19 case count since the pandemic started over a year ago, Lethbridge leaders are pleading with residents to stop all social gatherings and follow the public health orders in an effort to curb the current rate of infection.
On Thursday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health specifically mentioned Lethbridge and area as a concern due to the rising numbers. She also mentioned that local health authorities continue to identify family and social gatherings as well as faith-based gatherings as a major cause of the spread.
The City of Lethbridge currently has 464 active cases. That is more than double the number of active cases the City experienced in December of last year.
"I urge everyone to pay attention to what is happening here in Lethbridge because it's not the same as other parts of Alberta," says Mayor Chris Spearman. "It is extremely serious and every single individual needs to take responsibility. The biggest impact we can have is to stop any indoor gathering with people who don't live in our household. Now is not the time for birthday parties and family suppers. It is a time to be vigilant and help protect the wellbeing of our community."
Dr. Hinshaw also indicated that areas with regional concern, may be impacted differently as the Province looks to move to move to phase 3 of reopening.
"We want to make sure we can continue to move forward with the rest of the province," says Mayor Spearman. "By bringing our numbers down, we will be able to keep our businesses open and support the recovery of our local economy."
Lethbridge Police work in conjunction with Alberta Health Services to enforce the public health orders and those not following the guidelines can be fined.
"Officers have responded to several calls regarding gatherings," says Lethbridge Police Chief, Shahin Mehdizadeh. "We are working hard to educate the public on what the public health orders are and the seriousness of the situation we are in. If needed, we can and will issue tickets to those who are non-compliant."
At this time, the provincial health orders prohibit indoor social gatherings with anyone other than those living in the same household. With the nicer spring weather residents should also remember that outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people. Attendees must remain distanced at all times and follow all public health measures. For full details on the restrictions visit www.alberta.ca.
"Despite the concerning numbers, we know the majority of our community is still working really hard to keep COVID at bay," says City of Lethbridge Director of Emergency Management, Marc Rathwell. "Schools are doing an amazing job keeping kids safe, our businesses continue to do everything they can to provide a safe environment for staff and visitors and mask compliance is very high across the City. Please keep that up. It is more important now than ever before."
All Lethbridge residents are asked to avoid social gatherings, stay home when if feeling sick, practice physical distancing and wear a mask in all indoor public places, places of worship and indoor workplaces.
AHS continues to having testing capacity for symptomatic individuals, close contacts of a confirmed case and those linked to a known outbreak in Lethbridge and throughout South Zone.
Those eligible for vaccine are encouraged to book an appointment immediately. For booking information visit: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17295.aspx. As vaccine roll out increases, the City is committed to working closely with AHS to provide the municipal resources need to get vaccinations to residents as quickly as possible.
To learn more about the current provincial public health guidelines around COVID-19 visit: https://www.alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx.
To learn more about impacts of COVID-19 at the City of Lethbridge, visit www.lethbridge.ca/COVID-19.