Alberta’s top doc criticized for cancelling large summer events

By Thomas I. Likness
EBC Edmonton

EDMONTON (Eagle News) — Saying they have sacrificed enough, a number of Albertans have complained about the province’s chief medical officer of health’s ban on summer events.

Several large annual events, including the Calgary Stampede, will not be held this summer. Hinshaw said any gathering that has more than 15 people cannot go on.

“Since yesterday, I have heard from many Albertans who are profoundly disappointed or even angry about my statement regarding summer events,” said Hinshaw. “The message I am hearing is that ‘Albertans have sacrificed so much already, how can I ask them to give up their summer when we don’t know for sure what the situation will be like in one or two months.’”

Hinshaw is unapologetic, saying the measure is necessary.

“I hear every day of things Albertans are giving up to fight COVID-19 and it does not seem fair to ask for more,” she said. “Unfortunately, this virus does not respect our feelings, we have no easy options.”

Hinshaw said COVID-19 is still with us and spreads rapidly in social settings. She said there have been several instances in the province where one person passed the virus on to many others at a single event before the person knew they were infected.

“There have been other events where over 80 percent of the people who attended were infected, adding the common theme in all of these is that the source did not know they had COVID or was possibly an environmental source with high touch surfaces,” said Hinshaw. “From these events, a single gathering resulted in between 13 and 40 additional cases with subsequent spread to household contacts of those who attended.”

She said attendees were trying to be careful, sanitizing their hands and trying to follow distancing rules, but since the gatherings were social in nature people still acquired the infection.

Hinshaw said the kinds of social gatherings people are used to, even in the summer  can result in significant spread of the virus from just one person who may be unaware they are infected.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 will be with us for many months to come and the relatively low case numbers we are seeing in most of the province are the result of our collective efforts and sacrifices,” she explained.

Hinshaw also advised people to spend their vacations at home and not goto their summer homes at this time.

(Eagle News Service)