Alberta’s Covid Lesson

Nathan Poklar ’24


At the beginning of the summer, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that, on July 1, 2021, Alberta would be “open for good,” having hit their final 70% vaccination target. All restrictions would be lifted, and there would be no vaccination passports. A few weeks later, the Calgary Stampede was held, with it being one of the largest events in Canada during the pandemic yet. As one Maclean’s writer wrote: this was Kenney’s “‘Mission accomplished’ moment.”

Fast-forward to September and everyone saw that COVID-19 in Alberta was far from gone and certainly not “open for good.” Instead of the laid-back, COVID-19-free attitude in June, the province declared a state of public health emergency. In the third week of September, there was a seven-day average of 1656 cases a day. Now, the province has instituted new public health restrictions, and even a vaccination passport .

On October 5, 2021, Alberta Health Services reported that its ICUs were at 83% capacity; however, without additional surge beds, that number would be 179%. 74% of those in the ICU patients unvaccinated. Furthermore, the province was preparing to activate triage protocol. If this happens, healthcare providers will have to choose who receives ventilators and treatment, and who does not, effectively forcing them to play God.

The province is also finalizing plans to bring in support from the Armed Forces, Canadian Red Cross, and Newfoundland medical staff. The only surgeries that are to happen are ones that must be done within a three-day window, and women delivering babies will only be entitled to one healthcare worker.
Alberta’s COVID-19 situation is sever. One of the only reasons the system has not completely collapsed is because enough people are dying to create new ICU spaces. Healthcare workers remain over-worked while struggling to maintain a system on the verge of collapse.

Alberta’s Covid disaster should be a warning for those who believe that this pandemic is over. While it may be a pandemic of the unvaccinated for now, the spread of COVID-19 and its variants should worry everyone. The virus’s ability to transform a province that was holding the Calgary Stampede a few months ago into being in a critical state of public health emergency is worrying.

COVID-19 kills and pretending that this pandemic is over is a deadly mindset. If we lapse into ignorant attitudes, all that we will have is a healthcare system on the brink of collapse and hundreds of more victims of this dreadful disease.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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