Editor's note on changing results: This original story was sourced Saturday afternoon, prior to the provincial government's daily update on the coronavirus numbers across the province. The Lac La BIche County numbers jumped from 17 from Friday to 20 in Saturday's update.
Slowly the COVID-19 active case numbers have risen in Lac La Biche County from zero to 13 to now 17— and the community’s mayor sees challenges increasing as the numbers do.
With the active virus numbers staying above 10, Lac La Biche County is included in a list of communities across the province with enhanced COVID measures in place. Those measures are supposed to help reduce the numbers, says the mayor — but he knows many residents are concerned about some of the new restrictions — especially with the holiday season approaching.
Under the new measures, get-togethers and family gatherings — if necessary are limited to just 15 people. Provincial recommendations also encourage residents to re-think gatherings of any size. Mayor, Omer Moghrabi, says it’s a small sacrifice for the health of the County.
“We want people to avoid large unsanctioned gatherings, we are keeping a close watch over that because we are in one of the enhanced measured areas. It is crucial to be following the restrictions right now because we don’t want our numbers to get any higher,” he said on Saturday.
Example of success
Moghrabi is using the recent lockdown at Lac La Biche’s LacAlta Lodge seniors’ facility as an example of how the numbers can be halted or reversed with firm restrictions in place for a short time.
Shortly after an Alberta Health Services (AHS) employee was in LacAlta Lodge on November 4, it was learned that the person had tested positive for the coronavirus. There was an immediate 14-day lockdown of the facility, with residents and staff being tested every day with enhanced cleaning measures put into place. Now, almost three weeks later, says the mayor, there have been no reports of anyone in the lodge contracting the respiratory virus.
“We have got that confirmation. Everyone has tested negative at LacAlta Lodge,” said Moghrabi. “We have been very happy to hear that everyone is safe at the retirement home.”
The incident at LacAlta Lodge demonstrates the importance of wearing masks for the safety of others, as well as forms of isolation and regular cleaning. A situation that could have had devastating effects on the community’s most vulnerable was avoided because of proper protocols, says the mayor, reinforcing the basic precautions that have been highlighted since the pandemic began at the beginning of the year.
“So, we are again encouraging people to wear masks, keep social distancing, and wash their hands regularly,” he said, explaining that locally, the overall response to the pandemic has not been terrible … but it could always be better. “We have been doing pretty well at keeping the numbers from growing, but 17 is 17 too many …We are hoping it stays at that number and then it drops off as the people have recovered.”