COVID-19 Crisis in Alberta News

As COVID-19 death toll hits 815, Hinshaw warns opioid crisis also ongoing

Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Majority people who have died from COVID-19 also had high blood pressure, dementia, cardiovascular disease and diabetes

By Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Fort McMurray Today

Alberta Health reported 25 more deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the death toll to 815. The number comes one day after the province set a record with 30 deaths.

But during her daily press conference, Dr. Deena Hinshaw reminded Albertans that COVID-19 is not the only health crisis facing the province.

It has already been the deadliest year for fatal overdoses and poisonings in Alberta, which has reported 904 deaths between January and October. Hinshaw said 449 of those deaths were accidental opioid overdoses.

Hinshaw said it is difficult to blame specific factors for the increase, but acknowledged health restrictions that began in March likely worsened the crisis as recovery supports either limited access or shut down.

“It is a sad reminder that while COVID-19 is a serious and deadly pandemic, it is not the only public health crisis impacting our families and communities,” said Hinshaw.

Hinshaw said the province is showing early signs of lowering case numbers. There are currently 19,607 active cases in Alberta, the lowest number the province has seen in two weeks.

Yet, she warned it is too early to declare victory. The Alberta health system is still stressed and if too many people ignore health regulations over Christmas, Hinshaw said cases could rise again in January.

“Bend the curve, not the rules,” she said. “If each of us follows the restrictions in place, we can keep reducing the spread.”

COVID-19 numbers for Alberta as of December 18:    

  • 87,581 people have been infected with the virus. The earliest known COVID-19 case in Alberta was detected in a blood sample collected on Feb. 24. The first case was announced on March 5.
  • Of those cases, 67,159 people have recovered, or 76.7 per cent of all cases.
  • 1,413 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the active total to 19,607.
  • 759 people are in hospital, with 141 people in intensive care units. Privacy regulations means Alberta Health cannot release how many COVID-19 patients are being treated in local hospitals or health centres.     
  • 25 new deaths from COVID-19, totalling 815. The majority of people who have died from COVID-19 also had high blood pressure, dementia, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • 19,617 people were tested for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
  • To date, 2,601,802 tests for COVID-19 have been carried out on 1,600,211 people.

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