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Athabasca active COVID cases hover in mid-30s

Area reports 38 active cases and 129 recoveries on Jan. 10

ATHABASCA – While the number of COVID-19 recoveries in the Athabasca region increased from 122 to 129 in the last week, the number of active cases has continued to hover in the mid-30s. 

The Athabasca area, which includes the county, town and Village of Boyle, reports 38 active cases and 167 in total as of Jan. 10. Boyle accounts for 18 of those active cases and 56 overall. The active case rate per 100,000 residents sits at 288 with a population of 13,196 in the three municipalities. By comparison, the active case rate was at 250.1 Jan. 6. 

At Athabasca town council Jan. 5 meeting, mayor Colleen Powell said while she’s not content with the numbers being as high as they are, they’re not as high as they could be, so continuing to take the proper precautions and modelling that behaviour is essential.  

She weighed in briefly on the UCP travel scandal noting, “It says to the Albertans, this isn't that serious. And because it's not that serious. Gee, I can go and have my Christmas dinner with my all my kids and grand kids, that that's what's missing here.” 

She said she expects a spike in the numbers soon because “not everybody was behaving themselves” over Christmas and is growing more concerned as hospital capacity is becoming a concern in some areas and elective surgeries have already been cancelled. 

"I'm hoping that everybody will understand that this, this isn't something you play around with,” said Powell.  

“I know there's those people out there and there are posters up in town, saying masks are silly. You can't help them. There's magical thinking out there. The only thing you can say is there have been more people killed by COVID in this last year than in the last 10 years of the flu, and that's Dr. Hinshaw's words, not mine. So let's all of us model behaviour and let's ask our provincial government to do the same thing.  

“I don't want them to have a higher standard, I want them to have the same standards as the rest of us.” 

While Athabasca RCMP have not handed out any violation tickets within the town and county, Staff Sgt. Paul Gilligan said Jan. 7 there are a few that have been in the Calling Lake area. 

“What happens is we need to be asked to lay charges, usually by the public health authorities. And on the reserve and Calling Lake, up in the Bigstone Cree Nation, Jean Baptiste, they have a federal health worker person who we work with, we go around and help them give notices,” he said, adding the tickets have gone to those who are supposed to be isolating themselves, but are not following the public health guidelines. 

“We haven't dealt with any of that outside of that area. I mean we have investigated a few things but they've never resulted in charges,” Gilligan said. 

As of Jan. 10, the M.D. of Opportunity reported 86 active cases, 124 recoveries, and zero deaths. The active case rate per 100,000 residents sits at 1,294.1, with a population of 6,646. 

Last week, the province extended the mandatory restrictions on gatherings and face-coverings to Jan. 21. 

The province reported there are now 14,116 active cases in Alberta, and 111,452 confirmed cases since March. There have been 96,052 recoveries and 1,284 deaths.  

There are now 754 people in hospital across the province, and 128 of those are in intensive care. 

czwick@athabasca.greatwest.ca