By Lethbridge Herald on October 13, 2020.
There was a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Lethbridge over four days according to the latest numbers released by Alberta Health Services.
From last Friday through Monday, the number of new active cases in Lethbridge increased by 52 for a total of 101 total active, which puts Lethbridge under the AHS official Watch Status which includes more than 50 active cases per 100,000 population.
Spurring the local rise in numbers was an outbreak at the Cavendish Farms Potato Processing Plant in Lethbridge where eight people have contracted the virus, which was confirmed by Alberta chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
The number of new active cases in Lethbridge County grew by six over the four days for a total of 40 active, also placing it under official Watch Status.
Meanwhile, Lethbridge’s school divisions are dealing with a combined seven individual cases of COVID-19.
The Lethbridge School Division reported a single case at Victoria Park High School on Friday, then announced Saturday single cases were confirmed at Fleetwood-Bawden and Ecole Agnes Davidson elementary schools. On Monday, another single case was confirmed at Lakeview Elementary School while another single case was confirmed at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Holy Spirit Catholic School Division announced on Tuesday that single COVID cases were confirmed at Ecole St. Mary Elementary and St. Francis Junior High schools.
In a letter to parents who have students at the affected schools, Lethbridge School Division Superintendent Cheryl Gilmore said AHS Public Health is responsible for contact tracing, identifying and notifying all who have had close contact with the cases. Close contacts will be called and instructed to quarantine for at least 14 days. Public Health also has provided recommendations to the schools about cleaning measures and other control measures to reduce the risk of further transmission.
If parents are not contacted, then their child is not a close contact and can attend school as usual following all public health guidance with the school schedule set to proceed as normal on Oct. 19.
The letter added custodial services teams are conducting enhanced cleaning at the schools with additional cleaning focusing on areas where the individuals were present along with high-touch areas and surfaces throughout the facilities.
Holy Spirit said in a news release that families of St. Mary and St. Francis students have also been informed of the situation and, if identified as a close contact, will be required to isolate and follow the directives provided by AHS.
Holy Spirit continues to work closely with AHS and Alberta Education to ensure all necessary measures are in place to protect students and staff. Additional recommendations have been made to the schools about cleaning and other control measures to reduce the risk of further transmission. As both schools have only seen one person test positive, and these cases are not considered outbreaks, the schools remain open and on alert, the release continued.
Parents/guardians of students, as well as any staff/visitors/volunteers, are reminded to closely monitor for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. The Alberta Health daily checklist should be completed each day prior to attending school. If symptoms of the illness listed on the Alberta Health daily checklist are identified, students and staff are asked to fill out the online Alberta Health Services COVID-19 self-assessment or call Health Link at 811 and stay home.