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Restrictions, modelling, postponements and $100 to get the jab

Friday, 03 September 2021. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Restrictions, modelling, postponements and $100 to get the jab
Covid 19 is surging once again in Alberta and the aggressive Delta variant is causing concerns about increases in hospitalizations and ICU admissions with rapid acceleration in the past week.

New public health measures

Temporary public health measures were announced this morning by Health Minister Tyler Shandro and take effect tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 4 at 8 a.m.

Masks are again mandatory for all indoor public spaces and workplaces.

Schools are not required to implement masking, but school boards will continue to set Covid-19 management policies as they deem appropriate.

Alcohol service at restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, nightclubs and other licensed establishments must end at 10 p.m. The venues may remain open but no liquor can be served after that time.

In-person contact should be limited for everyone.

The province strongly recommends that unvaccinated Albertans limit indoor social gatherings to close contacts of only two cohort families up to a maximum of 10 people.

Employers are encouraged to pause plans to have staff return to work and, instead, continue with work-from-home measures.

If employees are working on location, they must mask for all indoor settings except in workstations where two-metre physical distancing or adequate physical barriers are in place.

“If you are sick, even a little bit, you need to stay home,” reiterated Minister Shandro.

He also promised that the provincial government would support Alberta Health Services in all ways needed to continue providing safe care, and that planning reflects realistic expectations of health-care workers.

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Modelling for September

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, provided general Covid-19 data.

Increase in deaths recently is a concerning trend. The opportunity for the virus to spread is generally happening among the unvaccinated right now.

Provincial modelling shows non-ICU hospitalizations have the potential to peak at 700 and intensive-care admissions could reach or exceed 290 in the next few weeks. This will create a greater combined impact on the acute-care system than in previous waves.

If transmission levels increase and cause greater spread, these numbers could be exceeded. Dr. Hinshaw said this is the basis for the new restrictions.

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Surgical postponements

Dr. Verna Yiu, president of Alberta Health Services, announced that non-urgent surgeries and procedures will be postponed across all zones due to building pressure on the health care system with the rapid increase in ICU admissions.

All affected patients will be contacted directly by AHS. In the south zone, this includes up to 30 per cent of scheduled surgeries, endoscopy and outpatient visits.

“Additional postponements will be shared proactively with the public,” Dr. You said. “It is imperative that we maintain capacity in our hospitals, not just for patients with Covid-19, but for any Albertan who needs care and critical care.”

Urgent and emergent procedures will be maintained along with prioritized cancer surgeries.

70 per cent of Alberta’s eligible population (aged 12 and over) are now fully vaccinated but severe outcomes in much greater rates in those who are unvaccinated.

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Get $100 for taking a shot

Since July 1, unvaccinated people between the ages of 20 and 59 have had 50 to 60 times higher risk of hospitalization than those who are vaccinated.

“If you just haven’t gotten around to it, for the love of God please get vaccinated now, and if you do we will now pay you $100,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a press conference this morning.

He said Alberta is the first province to offer a personal monetary incentive “to step up and do the right thing.”

This one-time incentive is available to Albertans 18 or older who take a first or second dose of vaccine between Sept. 3 and Oct. 14 and was determined by the Covid cabinet committee as a plausible course of action to encourage vaccination.

More than 80 per cent of all hospital admissions since July 1 have been unvaccinated individuals.

“I wish we didn’t have to do this,” said Premier Kenney, “but this is not a time for moral judgments, this is a time to get people vaccinated. We have done everything we can, left no stone unturned, made it as easy as possible, we’re the first province out there with a big lottery, we’ve had a bus running around the province, we’re the only province with a billing code that allows doctors to bill for proactively calling their patients who are unvaccinated to share medical information with them, we have left no stone unturned and yet we have the lowest vaccination rate in Canada.”

“If the choice is between a sustained crisis in our hospitals, or, God forbid, widespread restrictions, which I want to avoid at all costs, or finding some way to get the attention of those vaccine latecomers, we’re gonna choose the latter,” he said, adding that Alberta is the only province to do it and that it has worked in some of the U.S. states.

“If you’ve been holding out and you just haven’t gotten around to it, it’s now literally worth your while.”

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He claims it will be a money-saver for taxpayers in the end.

“If we can get five extra percentage points of the adult population to step up with this small financial incentive, this hundred-dollar card, that’ll cost us around $20 million dollars,” he said. That’s real money, but that is a fraction of the cost to taxpayers to hospitalize many of them — it will be a huge cost savings relative to the hospitalization of many of those folks who might now get vaccinated.”

“I’m much more concerned about protecting our hospitals than I am about the message, some abstract message, that this sends,'' the Premier said.

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