All Albertans are at risk of contracting COVID-19, and anyone can experience severe outcomes.

Who is high risk

While we are still learning about the health effects of COVID-19, those most likely to experience severe outcomes include people who:

  • are over the age of 70
  • have underlying medical conditions, such as:
    • cardio-vascular disease (congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation)
    • chronic liver disease
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • dementia
    • diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
    • immuno-deficiency disease
    • malignant cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer)
    • renal disease (chronic renal failure and end stage renal disease)

In Alberta, as of June 26:

  • the average age of a death from COVID-19 is 83
  • the average age for hospitalization from COVID-19 is 60
  • about 90% of deaths linked to COVID-19 were people over the age of 70
  • about 90% of Albertans who died from COVID-19 had 2 or more underlying conditions
  • about 47% of Albertans admitted to ICU had 2 or more pre-existing conditions

How to protect yourself if at risk

Albertans who are elderly or may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 can take steps to support their own health and protect themselves.

Protecting all Albertans

We are working with partners across Alberta to keep strong measures in place to protect Albertans from COVID-19, including those most at-risk. These include:

  • Public health orders: Orders are in place around mandatory self-isolation, operational protocols, outbreak standards and more to protect the health and safety of Albertans. Orders can be legally enforced and fines issued for violations.
  • Public health guidance: More than 60 guidance documents are available on alberta.ca/bizconnect to support the public and businesses in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • Community-based care: Most Albertans with COVID-19 do not require hospital care. Primary Care Networks are supporting patient care in the community, helping keep treat Albertans and keep them out of hospital whenever possible.
  • Public health follow up: Alberta has teams of front line public health professionals who rapidly trace contacts of confirmed cases and ensure both cases and contacts know how to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
  • Acute care: Enhanced screening is in place for all staff, patients and visitors at acute care facilities. These sites have enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols and visitor access is restricted.
  • Public masking: We distributed millions of free non-medical masks to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Another 20 million masks will be distributed in July. Learn more about masks for Albertans.
  • Testing: Alberta has one of the highest testing rates in the world. Widespread testing is available to any Albertan, with or without symptoms. Targeted serology testing is also helping further track the spread of the virus.

Protecting at-risk Albertans

Targeted protections support the health and safety of those most at-risk of severe outcomes.

Outbreak management

  • Identifying COVID-19 outbreaks quickly helps us test contacts and implement additional outbreak control measures.
  • Outbreak management includes isolating cases and quarantining close contacts. It is especially important in congregate settings such as schools, daycares and shelters.
  • Outbreak control measures are put in place at continuing care facilities and congregate living sites with a single confirmed case.

Continuing care

We implemented enhanced mandatory requirements for all continuing care facilities, including outbreak protocols, staff screening and enhanced cleaning. They apply to all:

  • licensed group homes
  • seniors lodges
  • designated supportive living facilities
  • long-term care facilities

We are working with operators, residents and families to assess how some measures can be safely relaxed while still protecting the health of residents and staff.

We are providing $14.2 million a month – and more than $170 million total – in additional funding to help keep residents and staff safe in long-term care, designated supportive living facilities and seniors lodges. Funding will continue until the orders from Alberta's chief medical officer of health are lifted. Operators are using this money to pay for enhanced staffing and extra cleaning supplies, and to address lost accommodation revenue.

Learn how we are protecting residents at congregate care facilities.

Workforce enhancements

  • Health care aide wages have been increased by $2/hour for staff at contracted-not-for-profit and for profit sites during this time. Funding will continue until the pandemic is over.
  • Up to 1,000 paid student practicum positions available to fast-track certification and get more staff working in continuing care facilities.
  • Changes have been made to legislation to permit nurse practitioners to work to full scope of practice in long-term care – ensuring residents have access to high quality primary care.

Emergency Shelters

New funding for all shelters in Alberta has helped to expand shelter space and protect people who use these shelters by enabling physical distancing.

Additional supports and measures include:

  • onsite testing and screening, personal protective equipment (PPE) for shelter staff
  • more hand washing and hygiene stations
  • prevention and outbreak management guidance for shelter operators
  • a dedicated Alberta Health Services phone number for outbreak management

In total, 14 new shelters were opened in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie.

Residential addiction treatment facilities

To protect clients and staff, all facilities have implemented:

  • admission and screening protocols for residents and staff
  • enhanced environmental cleaning
  • physical distancing measures
  • restricted visitor policy
  • outbreak reporting requirements

Investing in Alberta’s pandemic response

We committed more than $13 billion to support a comprehensive pandemic response plan that protects the health and safety of Albertans and gets our economy back on track.

Part of this includes:

  • $500 million more for Budget 2020 to help Alberta’s health officials have the resources they need to deal with the pandemic
  • $170 million to provide an additional $14.2 million per month to operators of continuing care facilities and seniors’ lodges to assist with costs arising from COVID-19 protective measures, such as additional staffing, enhanced cleaning procedures and lost revenue
  • $91 million to address staffing challenges in contracted continuing care facilities, providing funding to hire about 1,000 additional full-time staff and add 1,000 practicum students to help deal with staffing shortages across the system. A $2 per hour wage supplement will help compensate health-care aides for the extra work necessary during the pandemic. It will also help alleviate the financial burden for staff who normally work at several sites, but are now restricted to one site.
  • $60 million to adult homeless shelters, women’s emergency shelters and the Family and Community Support Services program, which supports municipalities and civil society organizations in providing services to vulnerable Albertans
  • $30 million for non-profit groups to address the social well-being of those most affected by COVID-19, including seniors
  • $26 million to support 80 new capital maintenance and renewal projects in seniors’ housing facilities
  • $25 million to expand shelter space across the province to protect Albertans experiencing homelessness and allow for physical distancing.
  • $21.6 million to expand online resources and virtual supports for Albertans seeking help for mental health and addiction challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $5 million for women’s emergency shelters to support women and children fleeing violence to ensure they are protected and have access to safe isolation with supports
  • $5 million in additional supports for food banks and community organizations, such as charities and not-for-profits, as they support secure access to food for vulnerable Albertans
  • $3 million to Caregivers Alberta to expand supports for caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future