Higher percentage of ‘cynical spreaders’ of novel coronavirus in Alberta, survey shows

Calgary Transit returned to full capacity and lifted its COVID-19-related seating restrictions starting today in Calgary on Monday, August 17, 2020.

One-in-five Canadians are making little to no effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, and Alberta is home to a higher percentage of the country’s “cynical spreaders,” according to a national poll.

Results from an

Angus Reid Institute survey

show there are three camps of people in regards to COVID-19 compliance: the “infection fighters” who follow virus suppression behaviours carefully, the “inconsistent” who take a more half-in, half-out approach to flattening the curve, and the “cynical spreaders” who have expanded their social circles, don’t physically distance and are ambivalent towards handwashing and mask-wearing.

The infection fighters consist of almost half the national population, 47 per cent, while 36 per cent of the population is inconsistent and the remaining 18 per cent disregard most safety precautions and view public health officials negatively.

But Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are home to the highest percentages of cynical spreaders, with three-in-ten residents in each province falling into this segment. According to the results, 28 per cent of Albertans are disregarding safety precautions altogether, while 37 per cent — less than 10 per cent more — would consider themselves an infection fighter.

“While cynical spreaders acknowledge and praise the efforts of front-line health workers throughout the pandemic, this is as far as it goes,” the Angus Reid results show.

Fifty-two per cent of this group say their provincial chief public health officer or premier have done a good job but only a quarter say the same of Canada’s chief public health officer, Teresa Tam, and the Prime Minister. This is in contrast to the infection fighters and inconsistent groups who say all official actors have done a good job handling the pandemic.

Education and political affiliation also seem to play a role in people’s compliance to COVID-19 precautions.

“University-educated Canadians are particularly unlikely to be among the cynical spreaders,” the Angus Reid results show.

“Those who voted for the Liberal or New Democratic Parties in the last federal election are four times less likely than past Conservative voters to be in this least adherent group.”

Canadians are entering the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic and there continues to be a lot of uncertainty ahead with upcoming fall weather and students

heading back to school

. But Dr. Deena Hinshaw encouraged people to continue following public health measures to the best of their ability every day in a post on Twitter.

“I know many are tired of hearing COVID-19 is not over, but it is still with us,” Hinshaw posted on Sunday.

‘While it may be disappointing, the greatest thing you can do for your loved ones is to stay home if you’re feeling unwell and arrange for COVID-19 testing.”

 A pedestrian wearing a mask to protect against COVID-19 walks past a poster of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw in the window of Vivid Print, 10342 82 Ave., on July 29, 2020.

Over the weekend, another 359 cases were identified by Alberta Health Services, including 177 on Friday, 86 on Saturday and 96 on Sunday. With these new cases, there are 1,132 active cases in Alberta.

The 177 cases on Friday are the most recorded in a single day in the province since April 30.

AHS has completed 829,622 tests on 672,138 people. The newly reported 359 cases are from 10,886 tests on Friday — a positive rate of 1.6 per cent — 8,663 tests on Saturday and 8,691 tests on Sunday.

Breaking down the active cases into AHS zones, the Edmonton zone had identified an additional 195 cases this weekend and is sitting at 593 active cases. The Calgary zone has 300 active cases, South zone has 42, Central zone has 85, North zone has 102 and 10 are in unknown locations.

Another three deaths were reported by Alberta Health on Monday, bringing the death toll in the province to 224.

The three deaths reported Monday were of a man in his 80s from the North zone, a man in his 60s from the South zone and another man in his 60s from the Calgary zone. None of the three deaths were linked to an outbreak at a continuing care facility.

As of Monday, the seating on

Calgary buses and CTrains returned

to full capacity but the mandatory face-covering bylaw remains in place.

“A friendly reminder that face coverings are mandatory while riding with us and are especially important when it’s difficult to maintain space from others,” Calgary Transit posted on Twitter.

 Calgary Transit returned to full capacity and lifted its COVID-19-related seating restrictions starting today in Calgary on Monday, August 17, 2020.

The next live update from Hinshaw will be on Tuesday.

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