Lethbridge mayor Chris Spearman, along with south zone health authorities, met with Premier Jason Kenney on Wednesday to discuss the rising COVID-19 cases in the area.
“We’ve been alarmed by the increase in cases in Lethbridge in the last three weeks. We had been doing fairly well,” said Spearman.
“Together with the increase of the number of variants of concern, we certainly want to make sure we have the situation under control.”
At Thursday’s news conference, Kenney said he wanted to get a first-hand account of the recent wave in the Lethbridge area.
Earlier this month, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Lethbridge had 196 COVID-19 cases on Feb. 25. On Thursday, the city had 512 active cases.
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“Our request to the premier was to have more messaging that talks about the situation in Lethbridge and southwest Alberta, and to make sure this area receives attention should that be required,” said Spearman.
At Thursday’s COVID-19 update, Kenney said, after speaking with health authorities in the area, the issue is non-compliance.
“I hope that the recent surge in cases was a wake-up call to folks in the Lethbridge region.”
Spearman hopes that getting messaging from provincial health authorities will help get the message of concern across.
“When it comes from the City of Lethbridge or the mayor, it maybe doesn’t have the same credibility as when it comes from the provincial government and the medical authorities.”
“The message we’re sending today is: sadly, it’s not over. We have a few weeks to go. And we really do need to get back to the basics,” said Kenney.
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Last week, Lethbridge had the highest rate of active cases among Alberta’s major cities.
The mayor believes that messaging needs to be focused on the areas of concern.
“The information provided to date has been central messaging from Edmonton and we understand the need for that,” he said. “But if there is a situation in the province, like Lethbridge has been for the last three weeks, we may need more effective messaging.”
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Kenney has previously said that a regional lockdown is not something he wants to do.
Spearman says the idea was brought up, but it would be a last resort.
“We really are appealing for cooperation, support and compliance.”
“The next few weeks are crucial. If we don’t comply, the situation could get out of control.”
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