LETHBRIDGE, AB – Lethbridge’s leaders are pleading with residents to stop all social gatherings as the community grapples with its highest COVID-19 case count since the start of the pandemic.

On Thursday, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, mentioned Lethbridge specifically in her remarks, pointing to it as an area of concern due to rising numbers.

There were 464 active cases of COVID in Lethbridge as of March 17 – nearing double what it was during the peak of the second wave. By March 18 the number of active cases had risen to 482.

Mayor Chris Spearman says “it is extremely serious and every single individual needs to take responsibility. The biggest impact we can have is to stop any indoor gathering with people who don’t live in our household. Now is not the time for birthday parties and family suppers. It is a time to be vigilant and help protect the wellbeing of our community.”

He also says Lethbridge wants to continue to move forward with the rest of the province with Hinshaw noting areas of regional concern may be impacted differently as Alberta looks to move to Phase 3 of reopening.

Lethbridge Police Chief, Shahin Mehdizadeh, says officers have responded to several calls regarding gatherings, adding “we are working hard to educate the public on what the public health orders are and the seriousness of the situation we are in. If needed, we can and will issue tickets to those who are non-compliant.”

At this time, the provincial health orders prohibit indoor social gatherings with anyone other than those living in the same household. With the nicer spring weather residents should also remember that outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people. Attendees must remain distanced at all times and follow all public health measures.

Local health officials have said family and social gatherings as well as faith-based gatherings are a major cause of the virus spread in Lethbridge over the past few weeks.

City of Lethbridge Director of Emergency Management, Marc Rathwell, says “despite the concerning numbers, we know the majority of our community is still working really hard to keep COVID at bay” and he urges residents to keep it up.

All Lethbridge residents are asked to avoid social gatherings, stay home when if feeling sick, practice physical distancing and wear a mask in all indoor public places, places of worship and indoor workplaces.