Thank you, Tom, and good afternoon.
Today, I am pleased to report 6,106 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, leaving 679 active cases in the province.
This is the fewest number of active cases in Alberta since March 30. Of course, we must not forget that this virus is still impacting many people across the province.
Currently, 43 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 4 of those admitted to ICUs.
In the last 24 hours, out of 3,168 new test results, there were 25 new cases. Sadly, I must report that there are 2 new deaths today.
I would like to extend my sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones during this time.
As we gradually lift restrictions, we must not forget that this virus can lead to serious outcomes, and that it will be with us for many months to come.
While the most severe outcomes of this infection are seen disproportionately in those who are older, or who have other medical conditions, it is important for us to be constantly learning of all the ways that COVID-19 can impact our health.
In the past several weeks, cases of a new condition called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, have been reported in a number of jurisdictions.
It is similar to an inflammatory disease known as Kawasaki Disease, and responds to treatments such as steroids.
It has been seen in the U.K., Italy, Quebec and the United States. Potential cases are also being explored in other provinces across the country.
Today, I am announcing that one possible case of MIS-C is being investigated in Alberta this week.
Reported cases across the jurisdictions I mentioned, involve children and adolescents with recent infection of the virus, with the syndrome seeming to develop several weeks to about a month after an infection.
MIS-C involves inflammation of multiple organs, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and nervous system.
Fever is a key feature of this syndrome, and other symptoms can include rash, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
The early information available suggests that the majority of children who have COVID-19 would not be expected to experience this syndrome.
However, we are making this disease reportable in order to monitor any cases that might occur and to improve our understanding of this illness.
We are developing clear guidelines aligned with global reporting standards in order to support health care providers in diagnosing and reporting this condition to public health authorities.
I know that this new condition might be scary for parents. I worry for my kids, too.
It is important to remember that this condition appears to be rare, and it is treatable.
It is, however, a reminder that we continue to learn new things about this virus, and that we must continue to be cautious in our relaunch.
This is also a good time to look around and remember that we are not alone in Alberta.
Other provinces in Canada and the vast majority of countries around the world have taken similar measures to us, with some taking much more stringent steps.
As summer approaches, we must not forget that COVID-19 was, and is, a deadly disease.
When we look at the impact of COVID-19 on a global scale, during the peak of global deaths in April, the number of weekly deaths being reported was higher than lung cancer, road injuries, diabetes or suicide.
Even with unprecedented efforts to stop spread, the cumulative global death count so far this year from COVID-19 is higher than what would be expected for year-to-date global deaths from malaria or homicides.
Closer to home, while this is often compared to influenza, our current COVID-19 death toll of 142 in Alberta is one and a half times higher than the highest annual influenza death number in the last 5 years, and we have never taken such measures to prevent influenza from circulating.
It is on all of us to look out for one another and protect our most vulnerable from harm. We are are still in this fight together.
Last weekend, I saw a great metaphor for this while driving with my family.
We noticed a slow down on the road ahead of us, and had to stop for a moment without knowing what was happening.
When we got closer, we saw two large pickup trucks driving slowly on either side of a median between an exit ramp and the main road.
It wasn’t apparent until driving by them that they were escorting a Canada goose and her goslings, protecting them from oncoming traffic.
I love this image of Albertans protecting the most vulnerable, and the vehicles around them being patient and accommodating, giving them space to get the goslings to safety.
The individuals in these two trucks did this not because it was required of them, but because it was the right thing to do.
We can all emulate this behaviour in our daily lives by considering what we are able to do to make it safer for those around us.
It might be inconvenient, and even awkward to adjust to measures like wearing masks when we are around others in public, or always staying home when we are sick.
But if we remember why we are doing this, that our collective actions are to prevent severe illness and death, we are reminded why our actions matter.
As I’ve read and listened to stories of how individuals and communities big and small across Alberta have worked together to respond to this pandemic, I am continually inspired by the ingenuity and generosity of Albertans.
Thank you for your commitment and your compassion.
Before I conclude, I’d like to say a few words about the National Hockey League.
We are currently developing guidelines that would allow Edmonton to be a hub city for the NHL playoffs.
These guidelines have been developed to support players, NHL staff, media personnel and Albertans to stay healthy and safe during such an event.
We remain open to working with the NHL to address any concerns before these guidelines are finalized, whether that relates to quarantine requirements or any other matter.
This will be completed in consideration of existing federal and provincial quarantine requirements that are in place for international travellers that may need to be addressed to accommodate the NHL’s proposal.
This could include further clarifying the concept of a group cohort for quarantine purposes that is currently in our guidelines, and how this could be incorporated into planning for practices and games.
I know Premier Kenney has identified this as a matter that he wishes to resolve in the letter that he sent to the Prime Minister yesterday.
Safety must be the top priority. In order to make this happen, all levels of government and the NHL will have to collaborate and find creative solutions.
I have been in touch with my colleagues at the federal level to discuss this issue and how we can use cohort quarantine to ensure both public safety as well as safe practices and games for NHL teams.
It’s important to remember that if this event goes ahead, it would happen later in the summer. I know that many Albertans are anxious for some sporting events to begin much sooner.
As I mentioned on Monday, I have heard the concerns and opinions expressed by Albertans and we are currently exploring whether some sporting activities for all Albertans could be safely included in Stage 2.
I will update Albertans when I know more.
Thank you, and I’m happy to take questions.