There certainly seems to be a sense of Déjà Vu as the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take hold in Alberta.
Some of the stories our newsroom reported in this week's issue reminded us of the reports we filed back at the beginning of the pandemic, when event cancellations came one after another and uncertainty of the future caused anxiety and dread.
Some of our coverage this week included the cancellation of upcoming orchestral concerts in Balzac, the announcement that Bow Valley College would be shifting back to an at-home learning format, and Rocky View Schools' (RVS) temporary ban on field trips and inter-divisional sporting activities. We also planned to include a story about an upcoming hypnotism performance in Langdon that was cancelled shortly before press time.
While vaccinations meant much of life was more "back to normal" in the second half of 2021, that thread of relative normalcy is once again coming undone. The high transmissibility of the Omicron variant means case counts and infection rates are literally off the charts – at a press conference last week, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, estimated Alberta's 58,000 lab-confirmed cases may only account for 10 per cent of the province's actual infection rate.
If Hinshaw is correct, that means the actual number of COVID-19 infections in Alberta would be north of 580,000, which is a bit staggering to think about. That would mean one in approximately every 13 Albertans currently has COVID.
There feels like an almost inevitability that the majority of the province will eventually have contracted the virus, or at the very least, been exposed to it.
While doctors have claimed Omicron does not result in as severe of symptoms, Alberta's hospitals are already starting to see the impact of the sheer number of cases. More than 700 hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients at the time we went to press. We fear that number is likely much higher by the time you're reading these words.