Alberta’s decision to due away with COVID-19 restrictions has become a nightmare for Premier Kenney.
One month ago, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr Deena Hinshaw announced the province’s plan to move away from public health restrictions by mid-august. Despite the rise daily in COVID-19 cases and the decrease in vaccination rates, the Alberta government will begin treating COVID-19 the way they treat other respiratory viruses like Influenza. Some key measurements staying in place are having vaccine appointments available, testing of symptomatic Albertans, and managing outbreaks in high-risk areas.
As of July 29, quarantining for close contact of a confirmed case will no longer be legally required, but is strongly recommended. Testing for asymptomatic folks who have had close contact will be stopped, contact tracers will no longer call close contact, but mandatory isolation for both positive and symptomatic people will still be in place.
The move to essentially do away with the public health protocols not only angered the majority of Albertans but also drew widespread backlash and protest from the provinces doctors, nurses and front line workers.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said that he is surprised the province decided to lift more public health restrictions with the rise in cases. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was surprised by the end of isolation and testing requirements. He said the changes made going forward won’t be evidence-based.
“Lifting restrictions on people is one thing. But lifting basic public health measures like asking people who test positive to isolate and then not testing anymore strikes me as — I just need to understand the rationale there,” Nenshi said. “I guess it means we’re not going to have the fourth wave because we won’t know, because we’re not testing.”
In July when the announcement was made, Alberta was battling Ontario for the most COVID-19 case on daily basis. And at one time became the epicentre for COVID-19 per capita globally. Albertans know they are in a bad situation when they are outpacing Florida, Texas, Alabama and Georgia down south.
As of Thursday, August 26, Alberta reported a staggering 1,168 new cases of COVID-19, while still contending with the almost ten thousand ones that are active and the 74 that are laying in the ICU. The Alberta governments lack of leadership in what is arguably the worst global pandemic in a century remains mind-boggling.
The people of Alberta has not had a public update from Kenney nor his chief medical officer in quite some time, which is even a far stretch from his fellow conservative Premiers. The Kenney government knew it was a bad idea to ignore the doctors and scientists plea not to remove the COVID-19 health restrictions; and now when the province is desperately in need of leadership and guidance, he is nowhere to be found.