Alberta goes into hard lockdown while ICUs are used less than last year

Premier Jason Kenney is imposing severe restrictions to keep the health-care system from being 'overwhelmed,' but the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms reports that intensive-care unit rates are not any higher than before COVID.
Wed May 5, 2021 - 8:19 pm EST
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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney addresses the province on May 4, 2021. YouTube screenshot

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EDMONTON, Alberta, May 5, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — In a new round of COVID health measures announced yesterday, the Canadian province of Alberta has shuttered churches, closed schools, banned eating outdoors, and hindered many mom-and-pop shops from being able to make a living by limiting how many people can shop in their stores.  

In a televised address usually only reserved for extreme natural disaster emergencies, Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney spoke to the province about the new measures, which are to be in place for “at least three weeks,” because of rising COVID-19 case counts.  

“If you can stay home, do so for the next three weeks,” Kenney said in his address.

“We will not permit our health-care system to be overwhelmed. We must not, and we will not force our doctors and nurses to decide who gets care and who doesn’t. And that is why we must act now to stop the spike.”

The new COVID-19 measures come about based mainly on PCR testing, the accuracy of which has been called into question. 

Kenney had said Monday that he would bring in stronger measures after announcing new ones last week, which included possible curfews in “hot spots.” 

The new measures in effect are province-wide, include shutting down all schools in all grades until May 25 and closing all restaurants for outdoor dining.

For areas described as “high case” regions of the province where there are more than “50 cases per 100,000 people, and with more than 30 active cases,” which in essence is the bulk of the province, there are more restrictions. 

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For these regions, church attendance size has been quashed to only 15 people, with funerals only allowed 10 people. Retail capacity has been cut to 10 percent of fire code, all sports and recreation are banned, and barbers and hair salons must close on May 9. 

Despite all of the new measures, professional sports teams can continue under a “special” exemption. 

ICU rates in 2020 was 'the lowest number of admissions since 2015'

The new restrictions come despite data released by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) that shows total provincial hospital ICU occupancy rate is no worse than pre-COVID times.

According to the JCCF data, ICU rates in 2020 were “the lowest number of admissions since 2015.”

In a Twitter message posted yesterday, the JCCF also stated that, according to information they were privy to, staff at two Alberta hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton said that “they are near-empty.”

The JCCF is expected to release additional information related to Alberta’s ICU capacity in the near future. 

As for Kenney, in his address yesterday he said, “Governments must not impair peoples' rights or their livelihoods unless it is absolutely necessary to save lives, and in this case, to prevent a disaster from unfolding in our hospitals."

He also stated that COVID-19 “vaccines,” the safety and moral use of which have been called into question by many, are an important and necessary part of defeating the virus. 

However, JCCF president John Carpay said recently that the Alberta government has “refused” to provide evidence to support its lockdowns to justify violating the charter of rights and freedoms.

“After 13 months of violating Charter freedoms, the Alberta Government refuses to present evidence in support of lockdowns in Court, and unfortunately the courts have permitted the government to delay facing accountability in regard to Charter violations,” Carpay said. 

As of this writing, Alberta lists 671 people in the hospital with 150 of those in ICU, with just under 24,000 cases attributed to COVID-19. 

According to Alberta Health Services (AHS), the province has 106 acute care hospitals with 8,515 acute care beds and 27,774 continuing care beds. The province has stated they can allocate more than 400 ICU spaces as well for COVID-19 patients if needed. 

'Premier, Albertans have lost confidence in you' 

Not everyone in Kenney’s United Conservative Party (UCP) caucus has been thrilled with COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Kenney and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health.

Only recently in an unprecedented political move, 17 UCP MLAs blasted Kenney for taking the province back into a severe COVID-19 lockdown.

Brian Jean, the co-founder of the UCP and former federal MP and Alberta MLA, blasted Kenney’s latest restrictions and style of handling the virus, saying, “When a politician rejects the people whose votes he campaigned for, it is always his fault and never theirs.”

“Premier, if many Albertans have stopped doing what you want, that is on you,” Jean said.

“Premier, Albertans have lost confidence in you. Those who didn't vote for you have concluded that you are even worse than they feared. Those who did vote for you know that you are not governing as they would have hoped.”

Ontario entered a hard lockdown on April 16 after Premier Doug Ford extended “stay at home orders” that placed a 10-person limit on church service attendance and implemented provincial border checks. 

Up until today, Alberta’s COVID health rules enacted under Kenney capped church attendance size at 15 percent. 

The de facto shuttering of Alberta churches comes at the same time many have defied COVID health orders to stay open, with one church even going underground. 

On April 7, Grace Life Church was barricaded by police for defying coronavirus health rules. The church has now gone underground to worship. 

Grace Life pastor James Coates was jailed for defying lockdown orders and spent 35 days in jail. 

A trial for Coates, who is being represented by the JCCF, recently adjourned, at which the provincial crown used as evidence against the pastor video shot by a health inspector of people engaging in what she called the “risky” act of singing. This came despite the fact the inspector was warned by church elders of Coates’ church that it is an offense under Canadian law to disrupt a church service.  

Section 176(2) of the “Criminal Code of Canada” bans interrupting or disturbing a religious service. 

  alberta, covid-19, jason kenney, lockdowns

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