Thank you, Tom and good afternoon, everyone.
Before I begin today, I want to take a moment to recognize the remarkable work of the ASL interpreters who have assisted with every update for the last four months.
Randy, Helen and Carla have all worked incredibly hard during difficult circumstances.
Thank you for helping make these updates accessible for all Albertans.
Also before my update I want to mention that I know many Albertans are thinking about hockey right now and wondering how the NHL’s hub event might be held in Edmonton without jeopardizing public safety.
I do not have any news on whether Edmonton has been officially chosen by the NHL. But, if it is, I want to assure everyone that safety remains our top priority.
This spring, we developed guidelines for professional sporting tournaments to support safety for players, NHL staff, and media – and to minimize any risk of virus spreading to the general public.
While there are many components, the approach relies on extensive privately-purchased testing and the NHL players and anyone else involved in the tournament forming a cohort that is separate from the public.
Cohorting among the participants will reduce the risks of disease spread if a case is identified.
If Edmonton is chosen for the NHL’s event, health officials will work with all applicable partners to ensure the guidance is followed to protect the public and those involved in the tournament.
We will also ensure that public testing is in no way impacted if the NHL does pick Edmonton. The free testing being offered to all Albertans will always remain our top priority.
Yesterday, because of Canada Day, we did not report an update on COVID cases, so today I have two days to report.
As of today, there are now more than 7,500 Albertans who have recovered from COVID-19.
On June 30, we identified 30 new cases from over 6,900 test. Yesterday from approximately 7,600 tests, there were 64 new cases identified.
Currently, there are 44 people hospitalized, with eight of those in intensive care.
Sadly, I must report one new death over the past 2 days. . My heart goes out to all who are mourning the loss of a loved one.
Whether through personal loss or other circumstances, I am deeply aware that this can be a difficult time for many in our communities.
It can be especially difficult for Albertans living with disabilities.
People who have neurologic conditions and severe physical disabilities depend on caregivers for a broad range of living functions.
My colleagues at Alberta Health Services have developed a number of resources to support those living with severe disabilities, and their care providers, during the pandemic.
This includes a toll-free Rehabilitation Advice Phone line, which provides information on activities and exercises to support physical functioning, and strategies to manage daily activities.
It also provides links to in-person or virtual rehabilitation services, and to community resources that can provide supports.
Anyone who may need these services can find more information on how to access them on the Alberta Health Services website.
We are also working on outreach to hear more from representatives of those living with disabilities…
…to better understand how the COVID response in Alberta can take into account the needs of this group of Albertans.
As we continue to work on refining our response to COVID-19 to meet the needs of different groups, it is important to reflect on how far we have come, and the many ways we have supported each other during these last few months.
It is hard to believe it’s now July. We are halfway through the year, and so far it’s been a year
I imagine not many of us would be eager to repeat.
Yet, unfortunately, although we may be done with COVID, it is not yet done with us.
We must not think that the risk is over and begin relaxing too soon, or think that the virus is only a threat to other people.
COVID-19 is still here. It will be with us all summer, and into the fall, and it will almost certainly be here when we ring in the New Year.
In Alberta, we continue to identify cases in all age groups, and have seen a particular increase in those aged 20-39.
In the last month alone, we have seen family barbeques, funerals, birthday parties and other get-togethers lead to dozens of new cases.
The good news is that we are not powerless. It is on us to decide what the rest of 2020 will look like.
Whatever outcome we want to see this year – whether it’s in-school classes resuming in the fall, keeping our favourite restaurants open, or keeping older friends and family members safe – we have the power to help make that a reality.
We must learn to live with this virus by building good practices into our everyday lives.
Our best tools of defence are still the basics we have been talking about for months. If we feel sick, we need to stay home and get tested.
Employers, event organizers, and others in a position of responsibility over others need to make staying home when sick as easy as possible.
We also need to continue to practice habits of maintaining physical distance when we go out, wearing a face mask in crowded spaces, and washing our hands frequently.
For those who test positive for COVID-19, the best way to help protect others is by working with public health contact tracers to ensure that anyone exposed to COVID is aware and knows how to prevent further spread.
Regularly following these simple, everyday measures is our best bet to minimizing the spread of the virus in the weeks and months ahead.
As COVID-19 will be with us for a while to come, it also means we cannot wait until the pandemic is over to take a break, or recharge. Self-care is important, and summer is a wonderful but brief time in Alberta.
We all need to take care of our physical and mental health for the weeks and months to come.
With that in mind, I will be taking next week off to recharge and spend time with my family, who
I sometimes fear will soon no longer remember my name.
While I have the privilege of updating Albertans,
I am only one small part of a remarkable health care team keeping Albertans safe.
Next week will be a break from my media availability, but public health professionals throughout the province will continue to work tirelessly to identify new cases and prevent the spread.
We will continue to post updated numbers online every weekday.
And if there is any information that changes the risk to the public, my Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Marcia Johnson, will be covering for me in ensuring that Albertans get the information they need.
As I step away for a week, I want to remind all of us that the future is in our hands.
If we continue to act responsibly and do our best to follow the guidance every day, no matter where we are or what we are doing, we will be able to strike the balance we need between protection from COVID and achieving the social and economic aspects of our health.
There is no quick or easy path through this pandemic, but what remains constant is this:
We are all in this together.
Thank you. I’d now be happy to answer any questions you may have.