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Good afternoon everyone.
I am pleased to report today that 6,893 Albertans have now recovered from COVID-19.
We conducted nearly 7,000 tests yesterday, and identified 48 additional cases of COVID-19 in the province.
Currently, 38 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with seven of these in ICUs.
In the last 24 hours, we have confirmed no new COVID-19 related deaths in the province.
As we approach the start of summer, I want to take a moment to recognize the 151 lives that have been lost to COVID-19 in the province.
These individuals ranged in age from 27 to 105, and while the majority had two or more underlying conditions, a small number had none.
Independent of their age or health status, they will all be missed.
My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones during this time, whether to COVID-19 or any other cause.
It is these most tragic cases that we continue to work collectively to prevent.
It has been nearly a week since we moved into stage 2 of Alberta’s relaunch.
I have heard from many Albertans about their experiences in the early days of stage 2.
There is a variety of reactions to our new relaxed measures.
Today I want to talk specifically about living with uncertainty, which sometimes includes dealing with anxiety.
I know that many people are resuming, at least in part, their pre-COVID routines.
Many people will soon be returning to work, or resuming other elements of their daily lives that they had put on hold.
For some, this is an exciting step.
For others, anticipating this change may be causing moderate or even severe anxiety.
Anxiety and fear can be triggered by change and uncertainty, and we have had a great deal of both in the last few months.
Learning to live with uncertainty is one of the hardest things that any of us can do,
and we have been challenged in this time of COVID to hone this skill.
Our knowledge of COVID continues to evolve, as does our approach to prevention as we seek to balance all the needs we have, for human connection, meaningful employment, and protection from infectious disease.
There is no one perfect way to respond to this challenge, and every path we could choose will have risks of some kind.
It is not surprising that findings released today by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health indicate the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of Canadians.
This national survey found that one in five Canadians reported feeling moderate to severe anxiety in the last several weeks, due to factors such as job loss or fear of the virus.
While this was a decline from the peak of the pandemic, many of us are still feeling anxious about the days ahead.
This is completely natural—and, if you are feeling this way, you are definitely not alone.
There are several things that we can all do to help manage anxiety in the days ahead.
First, we need to take care of our physical, mental and emotional health.
Sleeping well, connecting safely with loved ones, exercising and meditating are all practices that can reduce anxiety.
Secondly, remember that anxiety and fear are normal feelings.
They are part of our built-in mechanisms to keep us safe, and a small dose of worry can be a reminder of why following public health measures is so important.
The challenge is to maintain checks and balances on the level of worry, by anchoring to facts and knowing that, collectively, we have the ability to create safe and thriving communities.
Following public health guidelines can help increase a feeling of being in control, and can make a real difference.
Lastly, I want to reiterate that supports are available.
One free, simple way to get support is the Alberta Health Services tool Text4Hope.
These messages offer advice, encouragement and ways of building resilience. Simply text COVID19HOPE to 393939.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you can also call the mental health helpline 24/7 for confidential support—or access counselling in your community through AHS.
More information is available on all these supports on both the Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services web pages.
We are in a new phase of COVID-19 in Alberta.
While we continue to test widely and identify some new cases daily, the spread of the virus remains relatively stable.
In fact, it is likely that Albertans will soon no longer need such regular updates from me.
This is because the onus is increasingly is on all Albertans to protect each other.
That is why, I want to encourage all of us – myself included – to continue to take responsibility for our actions and to support others while they do the same.
We all need to understand the guidelines and the importance of following them.
I know there’s a lot to learn, and it’s natural that people may not know all the details of every guidance document available.
It is a lot of information. That’s why I encourage all of us to show leadership and help each other.
If your friends are hosting a backyard party, help make sure households practice distancing and know to bring their own refreshments.
Or, if you run a business, remind your customers of the measures you are taking to protect them, and how they can protect your staff.
Promote the fact that everyone should get tested—even with no symptoms. It’s very easy to book an appointment online.
And, to be able to notify contacts quickly if someone does test positive, please download the ABTraceTogether app.
These are all important ways of staying safe today, tomorrow and in the weeks to come.
I want to end on a happy note. Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard some wonderful stories through the Alberta Cares hashtag.
The Calgary Food Bank thanked Linda, who dropped off masks her mom made for volunteers.
Also in Calgary, musician Marvin Matthews released a beautiful, reassuring song called ‘This Too Shall Pass’ with messages of hope from the students of Blessed Marie-Rose school.
I encourage everyone to take a listen—it will make your day.
And in Medicine Hat, real estate agent Jennifer Ellard received a Northern Lights award for volunteering five days a week at her local food bank during the pandemic.
If you know of a story like this in your community, please share it using the hashtag #AlbertaCares.
Because Albertans do care—and messages of hope and unity can help all of us.
We are all in this together.
Let’s continue to move forward with caution, to support one another physically and emotionally, and to keep each other safe.
Thank you and I’ll be happy to take questions.