COVID-19 Updates: Protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant.
Thank you, Tom. Good afternoon.
Today, I am pleased to report 5,979 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, leaving 762 active cases in the province.
Currently, 45 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 5 of those admitted to ICUs.
In the last 24 hours, out of 3,010 new test results, there were 19 new cases. Sadly, I must report that there are 3 new deaths today.
I would like to extend my sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones during this time.
These deaths are a reminder of the worst case scenario outcome from this virus, and why we need to continue to take this seriously.
One of the ways to do this is through the use of personal protective equipment for those who could be exposed. That’s also called PPE.
Throughout the last few months, you have likely heard a lot about PPE.
This refers to supplies such as masks, gloves and gowns.
Here in Alberta, we have been working to meet the immediate need for PPE across the province in the context of a global shortage.
We’ve been able to supply our hospitals and our first responders.
Additionally, we’ve been able to help other groups meet their PPE needs, such as some non-profit, community groups and businesses, while their regular supply chains were interrupted.
Thanks to the procurement expertise and relationships we’ve built in Alberta, we’ve been able to meet the demand despite enormous pressure on global supply chains.
Now, as more companies around the world produce PPE, it’s easier to get these products on the open market.
Businesses and organizations have more options.
As Alberta moves forward with our relaunch efforts, the need for PPE to protect vulnerable Albertans remains paramount.
This is why the provincial government is keeping key groups as a priority while we change our distribution process.
Going forward, we will continue to prioritize PPE for those at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The province will continue to ensure publicly funded or contracted settings have PPE at no extra cost.
This includes AHS and Covenant health-care workers, first responders, and those working in homeless shelters and publicly funded or contracted seniors care facilities.
For those who do not have other sources in the short term, private organizations can continue to access PPE through the government until June 30, but will need to pay a fair market price.
After June 30, they will need to get PPE from their own suppliers.
I’d like to be clear: government will continue to support and prioritize Alberta’s critical service providers in publicly funded or contracted settings.
There will be no changes in the provincial PPE supply for:
- hospitals and clinics operated by Alberta Health Services;
- continuing care facilities, supportive living facilities, and home care services, which are operated or contracted by Alberta Health Services;
- publicly funded lodges, mental health housing, residential addiction treatment facilities, and shelter operators; and
- police, fire and emergency medical services.
N95 masks will be provided at a fee to dentists for emergency procedures only, and to morticians for embalming procedures for the duration of global N95 shortages. These requests will be managed through the professional associations.
This is a decision the government did not make lightly.
It is in line with other jurisdictions across Canada—including Quebec, Ontario, BC and Manitoba—who are making the same decision about PPE distribution.
I’d like to pre-emptively address any fear that Alberta is running out of PPE.
We are not.
However, as we continue to move forward with relaunch it’s important to have a long-term plan.
That said, this approach will be flexible. If there is an emergency short-term issue, such as a threat to food security, an organization can request PPE through the government and such requests would be considered on a case-by-case assessment through the provincial operations centre.
Finally, this announcement doesn’t change the Premier’s promise to distribute non-medical masks to the public.
More information on that will be coming soon.
Remember the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through physical distancing and good hygiene.
Stay home if you aren’t feeling well and get tested if you have any symptoms.
Businesses and organizations are encouraged to visit Alberta BizConnect for guidelines on how to keep their employees and patrons safe, as well as for information on a range of PPE suppliers.
It doesn’t matter if you are a business owner, a worker or a customer – we are all Albertans.
Working together, we will continue to move forward – safely.
Thank you, I’d be happy to take questions.