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'Things are bad': Nenshi addresses local response to COVID-19 as cases rise in Calgary

Last Updated Apr 29, 2021 at 7:42 pm MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Things are worse now than they were before.

That message coming from Mayor Naheed Nenshi on Thursday as he addressed how the city is responding to the third wave of the pandemic.

“Things are bad … but I think it’s important for us to understand just where we are at here in Calgary.”

WATCH: Mayor Nenshi, CEMA Chief Sue Henry and CPS Deputy Chief Chad Tawfik provide an update on COVID-19 in Calgary.

Nenshi took time to tell two stories about friends he has that have been fighting the virus.

“I have a friend who’s younger than me, she got her first shot but before it had a chance to kick in, she contracted COVID. She’s now in her sixth day in the ICU in an induced coma, on a ventilator .. younger than me. Had her first shot,” he said.

Then he noted a friend who lives on the other side of the world living in India who got COVID-19 and recovered. When she thought she was all clear, she got sick with one of the variants of the virus.

“Now that sounds like it’s really far away, and we’re hearing on the news how awful the situation is,” he said. “Here’s something I need you to know. The infection rate in India is approximately 200 people per 100,000. In Calgary today, it’s 520 people per 100,000. It’s twice as bad.”

The mayor then pointing to every Calgarian to do their part in keeping each other safe and calling out those who refuse to.

“I know it’s frustrating when you see those maskless idiots in their protests coughing and saying they have bronchitis, as if,” he said.

Nenshi understanding the level of frustration that comes with seeing friends post pictures on social media hanging out together when you are doing the right things.

He also addressed the locations of the city COVID-19 seemed to target early in the pandemic, adding that isn’t the case anymore, and the virus is all around us.

“The numbers are almost equivalent across the whole city now. These variants are scary, they’re transmissible, and they’re going far.”

He then showed some slides of where the province sits when it comes to active cases.

 

“That’s the first wave on the far left side of this page, our second wave, around Christmas time, when we closed all the schools and put in all those restrictions, you’ll see how high that was.

“As of (Wednesday), we were almost at our peak and growing significantly. But, I want you to look at Calgary.”

He then showed off slides showing active cases in Calgary and how the city has far surpassed the active cases seen during the peak of the second wave.

 

“We’re well above the peak, and we’re still going up. We’re in a situation right now where the variant’s rise means we can expect new variant daily cases to double down every two and half weeks.

“We’re staring down the barrel here folks.”

He then showed off graphs that show hospitalizations in the province versus hospitalizations in Calgary, where a similar rise to the active cases can be seen.

Though hospital admissions sit lower than the second wave for the entire province, Calgary has surpassed the hospitalization numbers seen in January.

And, ICU admissions for the city follow the same trend.

Nenshi then pointed to vaccinations and how they are the long-term solution to beating this virus, but the short-term solution is following the rules and taking the necessary precautions.

“Get your vaccine the moment you are eligible for it.”

The mayor then handed it off to Calgary police Dep. Chief Chad Tawfik when it comes to enforcement in the city and why enforcing some of the rules isn’t as simple as some may think.

Tawfik says enforcement officials are preparing for another weekend of protests.

“We want you to know that enforcing the orders where and when it’s legally and safe to do so we will follow through,” he said.

He says CPS are incredibly frustrated with the violation of current public health orders.

“Our offers have been yelled at, battered on social media, and have had them and their families targetted by individuals whose intent is to cause chaos and disorder. This is not okay”

“We continue to focus efforts on repeat offenders and organizers of some of these events, rallies and protests that are affecting the safety of our communities,” he said. “I’ll be very clear, this is a systems approach, we are one part of that system, and we will do our part to hold those to account who are defying public health orders.”

Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Sue Henry then stepped up to the podium to talk about how the city is working to maintain critical services in Calgary.

“Just this week we were able to work with Alberta Health Services to set up a new temporary assessment and testing site in the northeast,” she said.

RELATED: New temporary COVID-19 testing site to open in northeast Calgary

Henry adding they are working with the province to implement a rapid testing program for the teams that provide critical services to the city.

“Additionally, we have dedicated $10 million to support the provincial distribution of vaccinations to Calgarians.”

Before closing out Thursday’s update, Nenshi had one more message to those frustrated with the current situation.

“Don’t play the blame game, saying this is only because of this or that,  focus on what you can do to keep everyone around us healthy. The future is in our hands folks, it’s in our clean hands.”