By: Thomas I. LiknessEBC News Service
(Eagle News) — The fourth wave of COVID-19 has cost Alberta’s health minister his job, infected hundreds of children in public schools and resulted in restaurants being harassed for trying to enforce public health restrictions.
This all happening on the last day of summer — a season Premier Jason Kenney billed as “the greatest summer ever” back on July 1.
That’s when health restrictions were lifted paving the way for the COVID-19 virus and its variant cousins to sweep across the land with no impediments.
Kenney replaced Tyler Shandro as his health minister Tuesday, demoting him to the Labor portfolio. Shandro’s replacement is the former labor minister, Jason Copping.
“I have accepted Minister Shandro’s resignation as minister of health,” said Kenney. “It is time for a new start and a new set of eyes on the largest department in the government, especially at a time such as this.”
Copping begins his tenure overseeing the health ministry that is trying to cope with nearly 21,000 active cases of COVID-19 and hospitals at near capacity with just under 1,000 COVID-19 patients — a fifth of them in ICUs.
Alberta asks federal government for help
It has been a busy day for the premier.
His government has written the federal government asking for help to airlift Alberta patients to other provinces that will accept them because hospitals in the province are running out of room.
The letter also contained a request for more intensive care nurses and respiratory therapists.
Kenney defended the delay in asking for help, saying the government was in caretaker mode because of the federal election.
“We are not in a position now, nor were we last week, where have imminent need of federal assets,” he said. “This is a contingency planning process in case we end up in a worst case scenario.”
He says there have been ongoing discussions with the feds about how they could assist the province.
Children have the highest rate of COVID-19 infection
The virus is attacking children and youth at an alarmingly high rate.
The infection rate for kids aged five to nine is 377 per 100,000. Young people aged 10 to 19 are being infected at a rate of 337 per 100,000.
Older demographics have much lower rates.
Outbreaks are commonplace in public schools across Alberta as the virus spreads through classrooms.
The province’s chief medical officer of health hints COVID-19 vaccines for children could be on the way.
“Global studies are under way looking into whether we can offer vaccines to those under 12 as well,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw. “We will not offer vaccines to younger people until the studies on vaccines on younger age groups are completed and evaluated.”
She said those vaccines will be offered to children once they are approved by Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Restaurants threatened by unvaccinated customers
Kenney’s vaccine passport, which he calls the restrictions exemption program, is creating problems for the hospitality industry.
When asked to present proof of vaccination or a recent COVID-19 test, some patrons are threatening violence.
It’s prompted at least one establishment in the province to shut down.
The owners of the Langdon Firehouse Bar and Grill in Calgary no longer offers indoor dining.
“This past weekend we were overwhelmed with threats and bullying both in person and online,” the owners said in a Facebook post. “This was directed to the ownership group and the staff! We feel the safety of ourselves and our staff is at risk!”
The owners went on to say the vaccine passport has impacted them in a way they did not expect.
“The beliefs that people have, have become more than just beliefs, they have become anger and hate,” they said.
They add a couple of other establishments have contacted them and said they are experiencing the same kind of bullying.
The bottom line — Alberta is in a state of chaos on three fronts — politically, in health care and its economy.
The root cause — downplaying a pandemic that now has the upper hand in the viral war.
(Eagle News Service)