Check against delivery

Good afternoon.

Today, I am pleased to report that 6,220 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, leaving 616 active cases in the province.

Currently, 55 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with four of these in ICUs.

In the last 24 hours, out of 3,754 new tests there were 24 new cases.

I am pleased to say that there are no new deaths today and in today’s outbreak web posting, several outbreaks have now ended, including the Horizon work camp and Manoir du Lac.

I want to acknowledge the work of local teams in stopping spread in these outbreaks, and in particular, want to note that using lessons learned from Kearl Lake, and with significant effort from the company, the Horizon work camp outbreak was kept to only five cases.

With today’s test results, we have now surpassed 250,000 COVID tests in Alberta.

This is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the tireless efforts of our public health system, from our lab technicians and contact tracers, to the public health nurses and those working at assessment centres.

Strategic testing is essential to Alberta’s relaunch. Over the past couple of weeks, our daily volume has ranged between 2,000 and 4,000 tests per day.

We have the capacity to do more, and in preparation for Stage 2 of our relaunch, now is an opportune time to expand testing to get a full understanding of the presence of COVID-19 in our population.

This is why, effective immediately, we are expanding testing to include anyone in Alberta, whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.  

This will help provide data to further understand the impacts of moving to stage two of Alberta’s relaunch strategy.

Expanded testing will also help us understand where there might be undetected positive cases and therefore prevent further spread of the virus.

If you are worried that you might have been exposed to COVID-19, even if you are feeling well and aren’t showing symptoms, I encourage you to arrange for testing by completing the online assessment tool to book your appointment online.

This can happen in Calgary immediately, and next week this booking appointments online will be live across the province.

No matter where you live, you can go online effective today to arrange for an appointment for testing.

Please be patient as Alberta Health Services implements this province wide asymptomatic testing.

Everyone who wants a test will be able to access one, but priority will continue to be given to symptomatic individuals and close contacts of known COVID cases.

As we continue through relaunch, we must remember the virus is still with us and we must still prevent the spread.

As businesses and facilities continue to re-open, we must continue to prioritize the health of the most vulnerable of our community members.

This includes Calgary and Brooks, where Albertans in these two cities have been patient as we took a measured, phased approach to the first stage of their relaunch.

Because taking this extra time allowed us to monitor any spread from opening businesses and other stage one activities in Calgary and Brooks where baseline rates were higher when we began stage one.

I would like to congratulate residents of these cities on the downward trend in their numbers, which has not been seen in most places around the world where relaunch has happened. I am pleased to say that thanks to these numbers, the final stage of phase one will begin in these cities on Monday.

This means day camps and summer schools may open with occupancy limits.

And places of worship may resume in-person services greater than 15 people, with precautions to limit the potential spread of infection.

Public health orders limit occupancy at places of worship to one-third of the building’s capacity to a maximum of no more than 50 people, based on lessons learned from outbreaks in faith communities in Alberta and around the world.

Faith leaders must take steps to prevent the risk of transmission among staff, volunteers and members of the public who enter their space.

Expanded guidance for places of worship is available on our Biz Connect website.

I also committed to posting guidance for organized outdoor sports and recreation, applicable for stage one across the province.

I know many people are eager to get outside with their teammates and play their favourite sport.

But organized sports events, games and leagues present a high risk of transmission and are not yet permitted in stage one.

Non-contact, outdoor activities can proceed with measures in place to limit the risk of transmission.

Examples of such activities are running in physically distanced groups, singles tennis and badminton or skateboarding.

Activities like soccer, football or martial arts are not permitted in stage one unless organizers can modify practicing the components of these activities to meet public health orders and physical distancing requirements, such as a focus on individual drills rather than on team play.

If you are looking to plan outdoor sports or other physical activities in the next few weeks, please refer to the guidance posted online.

We will soon be at the three-month mark since our first case was identified.

Albertans have done a tremendous job pulling together, supporting each other and protecting each other by following public health orders.

I know that we are all tired of COVID-19. We are tired of the impact the restrictions are having on our lives, and I wonder sometimes if asking Albertans to wash their hands one more time feels like nails on a chalkboard at this point.

The trouble is that the virus has not disappeared. We are learning to live with it in a way that keeps the most vulnerable members of our community safe, and so it is important that we all continue to do our part by looking out for each other as we open activities back up.

I am confident we can continue to work together to keep each other safe as we take additional steps along our relaunch path.

Thank you and I’ll be happy to take questions.