COVID-19 Updates: Protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant.
Thank you, Premier, and good afternoon.
I will keep my remarks relatively brief today, as I know many of you have questions about the information that was just shared.
I want to start by acknowledging the flooding in Northern Alberta — and all those communities where emergency response is taking place, including evacuations.
We are working with the Provincial Operations Centre to ensure that risks of COVID-19 transmission are mitigated as communities work to respond to the impacts of flooding.
As the Premier noted, we have confirmed an additional 154 cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in Alberta to 4,850.
Since my last update, we have also confirmed 5 additional deaths, meaning that there have now been 80 deaths in our province.
These include 2 new deaths at continuing care facilities, one in Calgary Zone and one in South Zone.
I want to offer my heartfelt sympathies to everyone mourning the loss of these individuals. Again, these are reminders that COVID-19 can be deadly, and that none of us are immune.
As of today, there have been 483 cases in continuing care facilities across Alberta, which includes 52 deaths.
As of today, there have been 759 cases confirmed among workers at the Cargill meatpacking plant. There have also been 249 cases confirmed among employees and contractors at the JBS plant in Brooks.
These outbreaks show the remarkable ability of the virus to spread quickly. That is why we are doing everything possible to identify and manage every outbreak, including those in High River and Brooks.
Alberta Health Services has rapid response teams in place and has worked aggressively to ensure operators have implemented outbreak protocols, and to make sure that cases are identified and supported so they can be isolated — and ensure that cases get any health care that they need.
AHS has made sure that contacts are identified in order to contain spread and has also made testing widely available including to those without symptoms in outbreak settings.
Alberta Health Services has also been working very hard on providing temporary housing for isolation and any other needed supports for anyone at risk.
We are also using these measures in other settings where there may be high risk of spread. This includes any meat processing facility where even one case is identified, and adapted versions of these measures in the current shelter outbreaks in Calgary.
As the Chief Medical Officer of Health, I want to stress that the modelling forecasts shared today is good news.
Alberta is starting to see the results of the collective sacrifices we have made, but I want to stress that this fight is far from over.
Modelling is just a projection of a potential future. It is not a guarantee and cases could easily spike in Alberta if we are not careful.
I know that many Albertans are tired of the public health restrictions. Many of you are tired of hearing me say, “We are all in this together.”
Every single Albertan has been making sacrifices for many weeks, and every Albertan has been impacted by this pandemic.
You have been making sacrifices every day to make sure your loved ones, neighbours, coworkers, and fellow citizens are safe.
Today, I am asking you to celebrate the success we have had by holding on just a little while longer.
Our public health measures are working, and we need to keep them working.
Thank you. We are happy to take questions.