COVID-19 claims life of man in North Zone

Shawn Auger, from the hamlet of Grouard in Big lakes county, is the first COVID-19 fatality in the North Zone. // Photo by Big Lakes County

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, confirmed five COVID-19 deaths today, March 30, including a man in his 30’s in the North Zone, which includes the Central Peace as well as the City and the County of Grande Prairie and surrounding communities.

UPDATE: Shortly after the announcement, Big Lakes County took to social media to convey its condolences to the family of 34-year-old Shawn Auger, a resident of the hamlet of Grouard. “Big Lakes County is deeply saddened by the news of our first COVID-19 death. Council and Staff would like to offer their deepest condolences to Shawn Auger’s family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, as well as everyone in the community of Grouard,” a Facebook post by the County said.

As of Monday, March 30, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the North Zone was unchanged at 45, including six in Falher, two in the City of Grande Prairie, and one in the County of Grande Prairie.

Two of the recent five deaths occurred in long-term care facilities in Calgary and Edmonton: a female in her 70’s and a male in his 80’s.

The rest of the fatalities were identified as a female in her 50’s in the Calgary Zone and a male in his 80’s in the Edmonton Zone.

There are now a total of eight confirmed COVID-19-related deaths in Alberta.

“Although these individuals have risk factors like older age and chronic medical conditions, their lives mattered like any of ours. This has been one of the hardest days yet. These deaths speak to the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and why aggressive measures from all of us are needed to contain the spread,” Dr. Hinshaw told the press in her daily update.

She also reported 29 new COVID-19 cases throughout Alberta, bringing the latest tally to 690. Of the cases, up to 65 were suspected to be a result of community-transmission.

She attributed the fewer number of confirmed cases to several factors: testing for returning travellers has stopped and “challenges with lab-testing supplies” have caused a drop in the total daily lab tests over the past few days.

“It will take us several days more . . . to get enough data to understand our trends. I expect by the end of this week we will have a better sense of what this data means to our risk in Alberta,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

Ninety-four people have recovered from COVID-19 so far.