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Commentary: No time to let the guard down

Albertans urged to remain vigilant through holidays

With the COVID-19 pandemic about to enter its second year, sobering new statistics show just how deadly the outbreak has been in Alberta, where hundreds and hundreds of people have already died and thousands of others have been sickened.

And despite the fact that the vaccine campaign is now underway, the death toll is, sadly, all but certain to continue to rise for several months to come.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has guided the province through the pandemic with her daily updates and with medical advice to the provincial government. During one of her updates last week, she outlined the scale of the tragedy.

“It is a sobering statistic that in less than 10 months, more Albertans have died from COVID-19 than have died from influenza in the last 10 years combined,” said Hinshaw. “Every death is a reminder that we must reduce the spread as quickly as possible.”

She also noted that more than 32,000 Albertans in their 20s and 30s have tested positive for COVID, with 380 of those being hospitalized and eight dying.

“This virus does not discriminate and it can have devastating impacts on all of our health. No one of any age can take COVID-19 lightly,” she said.

With the Christmas season now underway, the temptation to break the regulations regarding indoor and outdoor gatherings has never been greater. Yet if medical experts such as Dr. Hinshaw are to be believed — and they certainly should be — this is not the time for anyone to cast aside common sense for the sake of having a few good times. 

Instead, residents of all ages should be encouraged to put safety first and follow the provincial COVID-19 prevention measures to the letter, for the sake of themselves and the community at large.

And, of course, acting as if COVID-19 is somehow less dangerous now that the vaccine campaign is underway would be a big mistake — and for some a deadly mistake at that.

Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.