Alberta has entered Stage 2 of the government's relaunch strategy. As of June 12, a new set of facilities and services can reopen, including recreation centres, places of worship and modified team sports.
In Airdrie, restrictions are also lifting. A State of Local Emergency was terminated June 16. Most outdoor recreation amenities are now open, and indoor facilities will soon follow suit.
Airdrie has been lucky to see a relatively low number of cases – according to Alberta Health Services, there have been only 50 total cases, resulting in one death.
Still, we feel it would be a mistake to interpret reopening as a sign that things can fully return to normal.
A look at the United States may be instructive. On The Daily podcast June 15, Donald G. McNeil Jr., a New York Times reporter specializing in plagues, said the number of cases and hospitalizations in 21 states has increased since they've reopened.
McNeil also warned autumn may bring a resurgence of the virus, pointing out that during summer, people spend more time outside where transmission is less likely. As it gets colder, people will be forced indoors where the risk of infection is higher.
Based on studies of nfluenza epidemics dating back to the 1700s, McNeil noted regardless of what time of year the epidemic began, each one faded before returning in a more lethal form months later.
"I'm very worried something like that could happen this fall and winter, and that we're not mentally prepared for it," McNeil said.
Granted, Canada is not the U.S., and it seems our country's response to the pandemic has been better managed. Still, our neighbours to the south may serve as a cautionary tale.
We don't want to be alarmists, but we continue to believe it is still a time for caution and vigilance. While we greet reopening with happiness, we also worry that recklessness could undo the work that has already happened to control COVID-19 locally.