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Alberta’s third wave: a look behind the numbers

Last Updated May 3, 2021 at 8:16 pm MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) — Doctors are sounding the alarm about Alberta’s COVID-19 case count, and who is now filling up ICU beds.

“The restrictions that were taken in November and December would not be enough to bring cases down. And that’s exactly what’s happened,” said Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health, and current co-chair of the Strategic COVID Committee.

The impact? It’s hitting younger and younger people. And they’re not just getting COVID. They’re ending up in the hospital, and the ICU.

“The demographic is shifting younger. They seem to be getting sicker much faster, and if they do end up in hospital, they seem to be much more likely to be needing an ICU bed,” he said.

READ MORE: Alberta identifies 2,012 new cases of COVID-19, active cases rise over 23,000

According to developmental biologist Gosia Gasperowicz, those aged 40 to 60 are the ones ending up in hospital.

During the first and second waves? It was the 60 to 80+ age group.

Part of the reason is because of the variants of concern. Those caught with one of the new strains are 60 per cent more likely to end up in hospital than if you had the original strain.

“As much as people above 70 years are protected, the ones that are not protected have the higher incidents of ending up in ICU’s,” Gasperowicz said.

The rate of kids getting COVID? It’s rising as well.

Gasperowicz says per 100,000 cases, those 19 and under are now the second-highest infected group for new daily cases, just behind those aged 20 to 40.

Despite the high case counts, the number of deaths remains relatively flat.

READ MORE: Kenney says new restrictions are coming, condemns those continuing to violate public health orders

Doctors say that’s because the province has vaccinated the group that is most likely to die from COVID-19: those 65 and older.

And experts say you don’t need to wait for the government to tell you to act to protect yourself, and those you care about.

“The easiest way for Albertans to think about it is, to think about the kinds of things you did, and didn’t do in the first wave,” Talbot said.

That means cutting out unnecessary trips, not visiting people indoors, and staying home as much as possible.

“We really need to get this under control.”