Mayor warns of COVID variant cases growing exponentially in Calgary

With cases of COVID-19 spiking again, Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a dire warning that Calgary is heading in the wrong direction and urged Calgarians to get vaccinated as soon as possible while continuing to follow public health measures.

“In Calgary, the number of active cases already exceeds the peak from the second wave, with infections still rising exponentially,” said Mayor Nenshi. “While vaccinations are promising, we must remember that we cannot vaccinate ourselves out of this current trend of transmission.”

Active cases in Calgary stood at 8,882 on April 27, 2021, higher than the peak in January, and hospitalizations are also on the rise again. In a news conference today, Nenshi told of a friend who is now in the intensive care unit after contracting COVID-19 shortly after getting vaccinated.

“This third wave is much worse than the second wave. Our numbers just keep rising. We expect new variant cases to double every two-and-a-half weeks. The end of the pandemic is near but we’re not there yet.”

Our best protection against COVID-19 is to follow the public health measures in place, do not gather indoors, wear a mask, keep a 2-metre distance, practice good hygiene and wash your hands regularly, stay home/get tested if you’re feeling unwell, get vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible.

Enforcement challenges

With more anti-mask protest rallies anticipated, Calgary Police Deputy Chief Chad Tawfik spoke about the challenges enforcing public health orders.

Tawfik said the Calgary Police Service understands that the response may not always appear acceptable and adequate to the public but they are enforcing the orders where and when it is legal and safe to do so.

“We continue to focus efforts on those who are repeat offenders and organizers of some of the events, rallies and protests that are impacting the safety of our community,” said Tawfik.

Calgary Police continue to work with partners in Alberta Health and Alberta Justice to try to address any gaps in the system around enforcement, and officers will continue to respond to calls, rallies and demonstrations and seek compliance. They will, however, follow through with enforcement appropriately and in line with public and officer safety.

“This is definitely a systems approach, and we will do our part to hold to account those who are defiant of the health orders. We rely on the entire system to ensure compliance and encourage everyone to do their part to keep our communities safe, which includes following the Public Health Act restrictions.”

Testing and vaccinations

Chief Sue Henry, Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said The City has been working with its partners to continue providing critical services to Calgarians, ensuring people can get tested and providing safe access to vaccines.

The City worked with Alberta Health Services to set up a new temporary assessment and testing site at the McKnight Westwinds Park & Ride lot, at 6200 36 Street N.E. for those with COVID-19 symptoms or those who are close contacts of a confirmed case. The testing site opens tomorrow and appointments can be made through the AHS online booking tool.

The City has dedicated $10 million to support the provincial distribution of vaccines including the largest rapid flow through mass vaccination clinic in Alberta at the TELUS Convention Centre downtown.

Between April 10th and April 21st, the site administered 26,190 vaccinations, with another 26,587 appointments booked for this week. As well, we gave the Convention Centre 120,960 bottles of individual hand sanitizer and provided 5,917 Calgary Transit tickets to those.

If you are taking Transit you can pick up two Transit tickets before you leave: one to reimburse you for your ride to the centre, and one ticket home. Look for attendants wearing blue vests for assistance.

There is also limited free parking available. If you do park, please remember to register your car. You can start a free 90-minute session at a pay machine or use the MyParking app.

“Keeping our neighbours safe and alleviating the strain on our public health care system means we need you to do what is asked of you as well,” said Henry. “We are getting closer to the end of this pandemic. More than ever this is the time for us to be compassionate, caring and careful. Let’s finish strong.”