June 16th, 2024

Decline of the COVID-19 pandemic starting to spark tempered optimism

By Lethbridge Herald Opinion on June 25, 2021.

Despite the challenges of the last several months, I have to say that I’m writing this column with a sense of tempered optimism. We’re starting to see the end of the pandemic!
Impressive numbers of Albertans have rolled up their sleeves for their second doses. COVID-19 cases have fallen dramatically as we make progress on vaccines. What makes me particularly proud is that Lethbridge residents are getting vaccinated at very high rates – 10-20 per cent higher than other similarly-sized cities like Red Deer, Grande Prairie, and Medicine Hat. Just as we have throughout this pandemic, our community is coming together.
If you haven’t had the chance to book either your first or second dose of the vaccine, I encourage you to reach out to Healthlink by calling 811 or visit alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine. That site also has lots of good information for those with questions about the vaccine.
Beyond progress on the vaccine front, I’ve also been uplifted by our remarkable community coming together to strengthen and reaffirm the bonds between us. Whether it was the powerful, multi-faith vigil organized by Lethbridge’s Islamic community to mourn the terrorist attack in London, Ontario, the displays of solidarity with our Indigenous neighbours in the wake of the discovery of the bodies of 215 children in Kamloops, the flag raising at City Hall on Indigenous Peoples Day or the Pride celebrations in our community, Lethbridge and Southern Alberta have come together to share our sadness, celebrate our progress, and recommit to doing better by each other.
As always, our community and region are a model for our province and I am incredibly proud of the hard work being done here to make our city even better.
This month also marked the end of the spring sitting of the legislature. There too, there were many causes for optimism. Our NDP caucus continued to bring forward meaningful proposals to make life better for Albertans, and to halt some of the worst excesses of the UCP government. From legislation to protect our Eastern Slopes from coal mining, to a proposal for an independent seniors advocate to hold the government accountable, to efforts to prevent the sale of our provincial parks and wild places, my NDP colleagues and I spent this session fighting for issues that were important to everyday Albertans. We sought to make workplaces fairer and healthier by seeking paid sick leave and presumptive WCB coverage for COVID-19, and fought to protect your hard-earned CPP retirement security savings from Jason Kenney’s misguided efforts to gamble with the money that comes off your paycheque every month.
While I am constantly humbled by the opportunity residents of Lethbridge have given me to stand in Edmonton and push back on the damage being done by the UCP, I am often in awe that Jason Kenney has persistently been so out of touch with Albertans’ needs and priorities.
Over the past few weeks, there was a lot of media attention on Jason Kenney’s UCP three-ring circus. Albertans were dismayed to learn the Premier hosted a private, alcohol-fuelled dinner party at the so-called “Sky Palace” for himself and his Health, Environment and Finance Ministers, contrary to health orders at the time.
The UCP saw MLAs leave the caucus and criticize Mr. Kenney’s leadership. Internal problems meant the Premier couldn’t focus on what matters: for example, hundreds of people in Lethbridge have lost their family doctor in the past two months. Several rural hospitals across Alberta are closing their emergency rooms on select days. There is a rural health care crisis authored by the UCP war on doctors.
Meanwhile, too, the UCP lost a minimum of $1.3 billion by investing in the Keystone XL pipeline, a line that depended on Donald Trump getting re-elected. While the pipeline was in Alberta’s interest, and there may even have been a good reason for the government to invest, Mr. Kenney did not safeguard our money. He was reckless and disrespectful with our funds, and our schools and hospitals will pay the price for the UCP folly.
Meanwhile, there are 200,000 unemployed Albertans and we lost another 13,000 jobs from March to June.
Alberta needs a more thoughtful plan for economic growth and diversification.
Our NDP Caucus has launched the Alberta’s Future project – hundreds of hours of Zoom consultations with industry sectors, ordinary citizens, subject matter experts, on creating jobs and diversifying the economy. We’re making sure our proposals reflect Alberta’s economic reality and our incredible potential. To have a look at our proposals – on issues such as attracting technology companies, building a hydrogen economy, or investing in post-secondary education, research and training – go to http://www.albertasfuture.ca. There will be more activity once again in the fall, and we’re looking forward to in-person events and meetings to hear from Albertans.
Finally, I want to acknowledge all the grads of 2021! Congratulations on your perseverance through these difficult times. Thanks, too, to all the education professionals who supported our children’s success this school year. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed by Rachel Notley and her team of MLAs. We see you.
As always, if you need the services of my office, feel free to contact lethbridge.west@assembly.ab.ca or call 403-329-4644.

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oh yeah, we may be getting covid 19 behind us. but, how about the variants? concern: how does a novel virus mutate so much? another concern: if start with vax passports, we will never get this behind us – we will be stuck in yet another new abnormal.
where does the ndp stand on vax passports?


another concern, and, where does the ndp stand on this?: it is a crime against humanity enough to legislate what a person can ingest – drug laws – but, is it not even worse to legislate, or coerce people, to ingest substances? that is some tempered optimism.

This Red Neck Has No Neck

The virus that causes COVID-19 — SARS-CoV-2 — is called a novel virus because it has never before been identified in the human population.
As for mutations, viruses mutation is linked to the replication process. Fortunately, most mutations, which we can think of as copying errors, are neutral or actually harmful to the organism. As for the number of mutations relative to SARS-CoV-2, a recent article in the scientific journal Nature stated that so far scientists have catalogued approximately 12,000 separate mutations. Lucky for us that only a handful those have produced variants of concern. That article also stated that the rate at which new variants of SARS-CoV-2 are being produced is lower than both influenza and HIV-Aids.


The Delta Plus variant is now surging. I won’t be doffing my face mask at any business in this city any time soon!


John P Nightingale

Quite right.


given the novel virus has been very quick to mutate – perhaps a world record, if such stats are kept on viruses that affect people, as it has spun off at least 3 variants on top of the original – it appears to be a very smart/savvy/resilient virus. i am hopeful that people will come to understand that most of how we have responded is based on guesswork, and only some of the responses have been more substantive than others.
consequently, i am wondering whether there is a possibility the mass rush to panic as much of everyone as possible into taking one of the vaxes might be exacerbating the mutations. meanwhile, too little is known about theses vaxes – not saying nothing is known, just too little – and as such, there never should have been a mass vax approach. rather, it would have been more prudent to focus on those deemed most likely to be at risk for a serious bout with covid.
that said, good luck and good health to all. i went a day without masking, and then took good advice that now is not a good time to do so. i have been without covid symptoms to date, and have not been a recluse – shop in store where and as i need, go to the gym when open, but i have remained very limited in terms of closer contact with people from outside my home. i have decided to stay with this approach until i feel certain the world is safe, not when our fool wizard of oz wannabes say it is so.