Check against delivery

Good afternoon, thank you all for coming.

Today, I am announcing new public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

First, I want to report that we have confirmed 56 new cases of COVID-19.

This includes two new cases at the McKenzie Towne long-term care facility. This brings the total number of cases at this facility to 15.

There have now been 542 cases identified in our province.

We suspect up to 42 of these total cases may be community transmission, an increase of eight from yesterday.

Currently 23 individuals are being treated in hospital, including 10 of those in the ICU.

I am pleased to share that we can confirm 33 Albertans have recovered, an increase of six from yesterday.

These recoveries are included in the 542 total cases. 

As you know, our approach since we learned of this virus has been to closely assess the situation in our province and respond accordingly to protect the health of Albertans.

This response already includes aggressive public health measures and a higher rate of testing than any other province in Canada.

These are important steps.

Yet, even with these measures in place, we are still observing increases in cases confirmed in every age group.

The number of cases of community transmission in the province is rising steadily.

Across Canada, over half of all new cases are now linked to spread in the community.

Stronger intervention measures are needed now to slow the spread of the virus.

Premier Kenney already shared effective today, all gatherings in the province must be limited to 15 people or fewer, and social distancing of two metres must be observed.

Additionally, Albertans are restricted from accessing “close contact” services.

A complete list of services affected is available on the website.

It’s important to remember, however, that even when a gathering is smaller than 15, Albertans must still follow all public health measures that we’ve put in place.

No matter where you are, or what you’re doing, practice social distancing by staying two metres apart at all times.

No matter the work site or gathering place, take steps to make sure anyone who is ill does not attend.

If you are feeling unwell, you must stay home.

Our health system is also taking new steps to prepare for the increase in new cases related to COVID-19.

Effective immediately, AHS will be postponing any diagnostic imaging procedures that are considered non-urgent by the ordering physician.

To be clear, anyone needing an urgent or emergent outpatient CT and MRI scan will still receive one.

This will help us limit opportunities for the virus to spread.

As well, Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) and DynaLIFE are asking physicians and community providers to immediately stop all non-essential and routine laboratory testing.

Any bloodwork that is critical to a patient’s immediate care will continue to be tested, but we must free up more lab space for our aggressive COVID-19 testing.

This will help us relieve the strain on the laboratory system, and free up more resources for testing related to COVID-19.

To help ease the demand on our hardworking health care professionals, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta has developed a tool for Alberta physicians to self-report their ability to be redeployed for clinical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aggressive measures we’re taking today are not ones we take lightly, and I know they will impact the lives of many people.

These restrictions were chosen after detailed analysis of the spread within our province, and consideration of what other jurisdictions have done.

As we have done from the start, we are assessing the situation and responding accordingly.

I recognize that these measures are fundamentally reshaping peoples lives.

As I have said, we know these measures may need to be in place for many weeks, or even months.

This is a delicate balance and we are implementing the restrictions that appear right for the situation in Alberta at this time.

If the situation changes, we will take stronger measures.

Each of us must continue to do everything we can to flatten the curve and keep our friends and family healthy.

This weekend, please practice social distancing in every possible facet of your lives.

Stay home if you can. If you are healthy and want to get out for fresh air, stay at least two metres away from anyone else and keep away from crowded trails and parks.

I want to stress that those who fall ill with COVID symptoms or any other illness have not done anything wrong.

I urge you to reach out to those you know who are feeling unwell and try to support them perhaps through texts, calls, or dropping off food.

Those who are experiencing any symptoms – no matter how mild they may seem –  should share this information with their employer.

If you are in need of emergency medical services, please tell the dispatcher if you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose or difficulty breathing…

…so workers can help you while protecting themselves and preventing the spread.

Our health care workers are doing a tremendous job in an extraordinary time.

They will not deny you necessary care for any reason.

I want to stress that the future of this pandemic is in our hands.

We have a say in how COVID-19 will impact our province.

The measures we are putting in place today are significant, but they are small compared to the hundreds of decisions that each of us will make every day.

So please wash your hands. Stay home and away from others if sick.

We all have a role to play.

Your health is, and will always be, our top priority.

Thank you. I will now take questions.