NDP release leaked Alberta COVID-19 projections that show ICU admissions higher than predicted – Simcoe Reformer
Intensive care admissions due to COVID-19 are higher than a worst-case scenario mapped by internal projections from Alberta Health Services.
Data from the Alberta Health Services (AHS) early warning system, released Tuesday by the Opposition NDP, shows worst-case projections from November predicted 514 hospitalizations and 93 patients in the ICU as of Dec. 1. With 479 patients currently in hospital, including 97 in the ICU, as of Tuesday, the province has surpassed that intensive care forecast and is nearing the one for hospitalizations.
Now, the data shows, public health officials project as many as 775 Albertans to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 by Dec. 14, and 161 of them to be in the ICU. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday she expected to see cases and hospitalizations continue to rise over the next several days.
The leak, which the NDP said came from health-care workers and are as recent as Monday, came before Alberta reported 1,307 new cases and a total of 16,628 active COVID-19 cases – the highest in Canada – at its update Tuesday.
In question period Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney said more public data was on its way.
“AHS is constantly adding additional capacity to meet the growing demand and will be providing more information on hospital capacity in terms of details in the days to come,” said Kenney.
The Opposition NDP has been calling for the province to release modelling numbers since cases started rising in late October.
Kenney said Alberta did not have updated models.
“I’m not aware of a single modelling of COVID outcomes anywhere in the world, certainly not in Canada, that has come remotely close to reality,” Kenney said during question period Oct. 20.
On Tuesday, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the “modelling” that was leaked was “alarming” and accused Kenney of failing to enact strong public health measures.
“If you truly believe it’s up to each Albertan to act, why are you continuing to hide this important information from them?” said Notley.
Kenney said the data from AHS is not modelling, but forecasting.
“We release comprehensive data on COVID hospitalizations, facilities, new cases, total case count, (and) recoveries every single day,” said Kenney.
Notley told reporters if the government was going to debate the difference between forecasting and modelling, “then I think they’ve lost the plot.”
Hinshaw said Tuesday the projections do not take into account the most recent public health restrictions.
“That really is based simply on actual numbers within that calculation if nothing were to change,” said Hinshaw.
AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said in a statement the provincial health authority is constantly monitoring current and future demand on the health-care system, and the early warning system is one tool used to plan for changes in demand. He said it’s a snapshot in time that is updated throughout the day.
Williamson said AHS was working to increase hospital spaces to meet the worst-case Dec. 14 forecast, and the potential for higher demand due to COVID-19.
Last week, following the restrictions announced by the province last week which include a ban on indoor private social gatherings and moving junior high and high school students to online learning, AHS said approximately 2,250 acute care beds and 425 ICU beds will be allocated for patients with COVID-19 across the province.
The province has 173 ICU beds dedicated to COVID-19. In the past two weeks, 20 additional critical care beds have opened in Edmonton while 10 extra critical care spaces opened on the weekend.
In an interview on NewsTalk 770 radio Monday, Kenney said that hospitals were at 91 per cent capacity and more surgeries may be cancelled if COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
“Our top 15 hospitals are increasingly under stress,” said Kenney.
In some ICU wards, hospital units are double-bunking, or “cohorting” two COVID-19 patients together in two-bed ICU rooms, Williamson confirmed.
Notley said stretching ICU resources and staff further is not a strategy for managing the pandemic and risked impacting the quality of care in hospitals.
The data released Tuesday also shows that the contact tracing system in Alberta increasingly failed to keep up with cases in November, with the vast majority of cases having an unknown source near the end of the month.
In early November, case numbers got so high that the province stopped doing contact tracing except in high-priority settings such as continuing care and health-care facilities or schools. As of Nov. 29, contact tracers became so overwhelmed they stopped tracing people who tested positive more than 10 days prior.
Published at Fri, 04 Dec 2020 17:13:31 +0000