Check against delivery
Today’s numbers reflect the last 48 hours since we provided the last update on Saturday.
I am pleased to report that 6,698 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, leaving 355 active cases in the province.
Currently, 44 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 6 of these in ICUs.
Since Saturday’s update, we have now surpassed the 300,000 mark for tests completed. Out of 11,025 new tests completed over the past two days, there were 64 new cases. We also have results from the asymptomatic testing we have been offering since May 12. We will be providing this in a weekly update going forward.
Since May 12, of those we have tested with no symptoms, no known contact with a confirmed case of COVID, and no known connection with an outbreak, we have processed 14,853 tests. And, of these, only 6 have been positive.
In the last 48 hours, we have also confirmed 3 additional deaths in the province. This brings the total number of lives lost to 149.
I extend my condolences to the family and friends of these individuals, as well as anyone grieving the loss of a loved one from any cause.
Over the weekend, we were alerted to a number of cases linked with the Sofina Foods processing facility in Edmonton.
Six cases have been confirmed, and all cases and close contacts are now isolating at home.
With AHS’s support, the facility has moved swiftly to implement all outbreak protocols.
Site-wide employee testing is now being arranged, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation.
These cases are part of a small jump in COVID numbers in Edmonton, some of which are related to ongoing spread onwards from several social events where transmission happened over the past few weeks.
With the slow-down in cases in Alberta, I know it has been tempting to believe that we can relax all precautions. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It is critical that all of us continue to take steps to protect our communities.
This weekend, we saw many people participate in demonstrations to speak out against racism.
I want to commend all those who wore masks and stayed 2 metres away from others while showing up to rally in support of this cause.
The freedom to protest is a critical one, and yet we face a challenge in this time of pandemic to do so without risking super spreader events.
I want to encourage all those who attended protests this weekend to go for COVID-19 testing, whether or not you have symptoms.
Contact tracing would be extremely difficult in large crowds such as this, so please also be mindful of your actions in the coming 2 weeks.
Pay particular attention to staying two metres away from others, and wearing a face mask if that is not possible.
I have reached out to some of the organizing groups, with an invitation to talk about how future protests might be able to be structured to reduce the chance of COVID transmission.
As we start to see small increases in cases in some of our communities, we need to think creatively about how we hold space for voices that need to be heard while not risking the low case counts that we have collectively worked so hard to achieve.
Later this week we will share details of our next step in Alberta’s relaunch.
As we prepare for this step, it is critical that we not lose sight of our collective goal – to allow further opening of society by continuing to work together to prevent spread.
We have closely monitored our case numbers through Stage 1 to determine whether we needed to adjust our plans for Stage 2.
I am happy to report that our rates of hospitalization and other metrics remain stable, and our daily cases, while fluctuating somewhat, are not currently showing a large spike.
As of this morning, I have allowed both the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to resume practicing at their home arenas with public health measures in place.
I look forward to sharing more details about Stage 2 of Alberta’s relaunch later this week.
I know many Albertans are looking forward to reopening and getting back to some sort of normalcy.
The past few months have been difficult for all of us. This virus and the closure of many businesses have taken a toll.
Many of us are worried about the virus, and what it could mean for our health or the health of our loved ones.
We are anxious about our livelihoods, how we’re going to pay our bills, look after our families, and what’s going to happen once this is all over.
Physical distancing and other necessary measures have also made it challenging to connect with our friends and families, share our troubles and find comfort in each other.
The mental health of Albertans is something I am very concerned about. I have touched on this subject a number of times and it continues to be important.
We have all been affected by this pandemic. It’s completely natural to feel overwhelmed, sad or scared.
You are not alone in feeling this way.
We are starting to get information on some of the mental health issues emerging from this pandemic, and it is clear that this crisis has taken a toll.
I know mental health can be a difficult topic to talk about. Reaching out can sometimes feel like the hardest thing to do, even with our close friends or family members.
As hard as it might seem, we need to talk openly and honestly about our issues and how they affect us.
If you feel you have nowhere to turn, please reach out. Supports are available.
The Mental Health Helpline and the Addiction Helpline run by Alberta Health Services have increased capacity to take calls.
Their number is 1-877-303-2642, and you can find that number by googling ‘Mental Health Helpline Alberta Health Services’.
If you are in crisis or having thoughts of self-harm, please call 911.
I also encourage you to be proactive and connect with your loved ones.
Don’t wait for them to reach out. Ask how they are doing and ask what you can do to support.
The fallout from this pandemic will be felt for some time.
Looking after our own and each other’s mental health must be part of our new normal as much as regular handwashing and staying home when we are sick.
I’d also like to encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences about your COVID experience through a confidential survey.
The Health Quality Council of Alberta is inviting all Albertans over the age of 16 to take part in an online survey to better understand the holistic impacts of our response to COVID-19, and to determine where our health system can improve to meet your needs better as we continue to respond to this pandemic.
Please visit www.hqca.ca to take the survey and share your experiences.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge that today is the start of National Blood Donor Week, a great time to consider donating.
The need is constant for blood, stem cells and plasma donors. If you’re in good general health, please book by calling 1-888-2-DONATE or visiting blood.ca.
Thank you for all you are doing to support others around you. I will be happy to take questions.