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AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said in a statement that the provincial health authority continuously monitors current and future demand on the health system and that the early warning system is a tool used to plan for changes in demand. He said it was a snapshot in time that was updated throughout the day.
Williamson said AHS was working to increase hospital space to meet the worst December 14 forecast and the potential for higher demand due to COVID-19.
Last week, following restrictions announced by the province last week, including banning private social gatherings indoors and moving junior and high school students to online learning, AHS said ‘Approximately 2,250 acute care beds and 425 intensive care beds would be allocated for COVID-19 patients across the province.
The province has 173 intensive care beds dedicated to COVID-19. In the past two weeks, 20 additional intensive care beds have been opened in Edmonton, while 10 additional intensive care beds have opened over the weekend.
In a NewsTalk 770 radio interview on Monday, Kenney said hospitals have 91% capacity and more surgeries could be canceled if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“Our top 15 hospitals are increasingly stressed,” Kenney said.
In some intensive care wards, hospital units occupy two beds, or “cohort” two COVID-19 patients together in two-bed intensive care rooms, Williamson confirmed.
Notley said that further stretching intensive care resources and staff is not a strategy for managing the pandemic and would risk impacting the quality of care in hospitals.
Data released Tuesday also shows that the contact tracing system in Alberta was increasingly less successful in tracking cases in November, with the vast majority of cases having an unknown source by the end of the month.
In early November, the number of cases grew so high that the province stopped conducting contact tracing except in high-priority settings such as continuing care and health care facilities or schools. As of November 29, contact tracers became so overwhelmed that they stopped looking for people who had tested positive more than 10 days previously.