Thank you, Minister and good afternoon, everyone.
I am pleased to report today that 7,191 Albertans have now recovered from COVID-19.
We’ve conducted more than 6,300 new tests, and have identified 26 more cases in the province that happened yesterday.
Currently, 38 people are hospitalized with
COVID-19, including eight who are currently in the ICU.
I must report one new death in Alberta, bringing our total lives lost to 154.
This death is linked to the outbreak in a unit at the Misericordia Community Hospital. Six patients and five staff have now tested positive for COVID-19.
My colleagues have assured me that outbreak measures are in place, and aggressive testing is underway.
All patients on the affected units and staff who have either worked on or have been present on those units are being tested, even if they do not have symptoms.
This is yet another reminder that COVID-19 can be a very serious illness. My condolences go out to all those who are grieving this new death.
As Minister Shandro said, testing is one of the most important tools we have to keep Albertans protected.
And we know that strong testing data helps us understand how our communities are affected
With pharmacists starting to perform the testing, this means people have options closer to home.
I want to make sure that we remember that it is particularly important that anyone who has symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 get tested.
I have heard some reports lately of people with symptoms who don’t want to be tested, as they are afraid of the stigma they might face if the test comes back positive.
This is an important concern to address.
We will only be successful in keeping COVID-19 spread manageable if we are able to use evidence-based interventions, such as contact tracing and self-isolation of close contacts.
I know that it can be uncomfortable to be in this position, whether you are a case, or a close contact .
I also know that being tested and participating with public health follow up this makes a difference and protects your community.
If you are feeling ill, getting tested is the right thing to do, both for yourself and for those around you.
With Canada Day approaching, I want to remind all of us that COVID-19 is still very much a threat to Albertans – young and old.
I know many people are tired of following health measures and physical distancing, particularly as the risk of severe outcomes is lower for those under 60 years of age.
However, a lower risk does not mean there is no risk at all.
In fact, the majority of active cases we have identified in recent weeks are in Albertans under the age of 40.
At this time, the average age of COVID-19 infections in Alberta is 39.
No one is immune to COVID-19 and, currently, there are four Edmontonians in hospital under the ages of 30
These patients do not have any underlying health conditions, and yet they are very sick.
This is another reminder that COVID-19 does not discriminate.
Another example is the outbreak at the high-rise apartment building in Calgary that
I mentioned last week. This outbreak will be listed online tomorrow.
There are now 32 cases associated with the outbreak, including three in hospital, who were otherwise healthy individuals.
I want to say again that we should all be grateful to everyone who has been tested, and who is participating in public health follow up.
We should not stigmatize or blame these individuals, as any of this kind of negative attention discourages others from being tested or working with public health.
That would only make things worse.
This outbreak is a reminder that indoor areas pose unique risks of transmitting, and this virus can spread easily from one person to many if given the opportunity.
So in the lead up to Canada Day, as you’re making your plans to celebrate with family and friends, please consider the steps you can take to minimize the risk.
Make sure you keep at least two metres –about the length of a hockey stick – away from people outside your household or cohort family.
Wash or sanitize your hands after touching common touch surfaces.
Wear a mask when distancing is not possible.
And if you need information on proper mask care and use, you can visit alberta.ca/masks.
The risk of spread is lower outdoors so, if the weather permits, I suggest celebrating outside within your cohort.
If your backyard is too small for appropriate distancing, perhaps you could meet at a park…
…or explore one of the many green spaces that Alberta has to offer.
Please avoid BBQs and potlucks, because shared containers and serving utensils can be a source of infection.
This year, it’s a good idea for everyone to bring their own food and drinks. And If anyone disagrees with that, you can blame me for thatrecommendation.
I know this may not be the Canada Day you had envisioned, and I know this is frustrating for many.
But we have seen that a single barbeque can spark a wide number of cases.
We’ve seen that a single individual who may not even know they have the virus can infect a large number of their friends, coworkers, or neighbours.
The virus is still here, and we know gatherings can help to spread it. Always watch for COVID-19 symptoms in yourself and others who rely on you for their care.
If symptoms develop, you must isolate and book
a test online.
COVID-19 loves a party, so we can’t let our guard down.
We truly are in this together. And we need to make sure we protect each other as much as possible.
Please keep this in mind as you plan your summer activities.
Thank you and I’m happy to take any questions.