As Alberta reports another 171 new cases of COVID-19, one elected official, councillor Peter Braun of Mackenzie County, has instead called on people to avoid testing for the coronavirus, claiming that “if we stop the testing...the virus will disappear overnight.”
Global News entered into contact with Mr. Braun after some expressed concern with him sharing such a message. “What are we going to gain from getting tested?” responded Braun. “Just stay home. Isn’t that the best medicine? If you’re sick, you stay home.”
Health experts disagree and have argued that testing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the chief ways of identifying asymptomatic cases and to get them to isolate accordingly.
Braun’s message also directly challenges the plan set out by Premier Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, who have all emphasized “the importance of a rigorous testing regime to identify cases and contact people at risk.”
The councillor disagreed: “We should do the distancing and stuff, but I don’t think it’s the end-all. There’s more to life than just staying home, and if you’re sick, you should be staying home just like always. What are we going to gain by knowing how many people are positive?”
Mackenzie County presently ranks the third-highest in the province for active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Oddly enough, this is not the first time a member of the Mackenzie County government has spoken out against the province’s pandemic response.
County reeve Josh Knelsen expressed his anger with health measures back in May: “What the heck is going on? What kind of gutless sheep have we become? We hear we can’t go to see loved ones in long-term care facilities and lodges, all in the name of ‘saving lives.’ Many will think I’m way off the charts, and maybe I am. Still, in my opinion, long-term care facilities and senior lodges aren’t about saving lives. They are about giving peace and comfort to the elders that built our community and paved the way for us in their final days." The reeve’s message was met with an equal amount of controversy as Mr. Braun’s.