Check against delivery.
Thank you, Tom, and good afternoon.
Before I give today’s COVID-19 update,
I would like to recognize the many unsung heroes who have helped support us all during this pandemic.
I want to say thank you to all the health care workers who continue to work hard screening and testing for COVID, and treating patients.
You are on the front line of this pandemic. Every one of the almost 10,000 recovered Albertans is your success story.
Thank you for your work on this front, as well as your work to care for all the other health care needs of Albertans during this new normal.
I also want to thank the first responders, continuing care staff and others who have continued to go above and beyond to help support our loved ones and ourselves.
And thank you to the many others who are on the front lines of supporting our society.
I’m talking about the truck drivers, grocery store clerks, retail cashiers, and service providers who are the reason that we can buy food and necessities, get our teeth fixed, our hair cut and enjoy a meal we didn’t have to cook, all in a safe way.
I also want to recognize everyone working behind the scenes at:
- Alberta Health Services,
- Alberta Health,
- Indigenous communities
- And in the municipal and provincial governments.
The pandemic has brought a great deal of work for all of us, and I know that many people have been putting in long hours to keep all of our communities healthy and safe.
Turning to today’s update…
I’m pleased to report that we have identified just 56 cases in the last 24 hours and conducted almost 8,000 tests.
Alberta has now conducted more than 735,000 tests on almost 608,000 people. About one in seven Albertans have now been tested at some point.
Currently, 76 people are in hospital, including
19 in intensive care.
Sadly, I must also report two additional deaths, one of them at the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre in Edmonton.
There have now been 205 deaths in this province.
Every one of them was someone who mattered, who loved and was loved in return.
My heartfelt condolences go out to everyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19 or any other cause during this pandemic.
Today’s case numbers continue a weeklong trend of fewer than 100 cases per day.
I am cautiously optimistic that Albertans are taking health measures more seriously – including distancing, hand washing and masking.
Of course, we are not out of the woods yet.
The spread of the virus over the coming weeks will depend on the choices we make this weekend and in the days and weeks ahead.
The recent cases we have identified are not limited to any one region or age group in the province.
While the bulk of new cases continue to be found in Calgary and Edmonton, rural areas have also seen a significant number of cases identified.
Although 20-to-29-year-olds remain the largest driver of growth, the rate of growth in this age group has slowed a little, and it has been encouraging to see that recent cases in this age group have fewer close contacts.
Many recent cases have been linked to households or neighbourhood clusters, which is a reminder that, when you are feeling ill, it is important to not only stay at home, but also away from others in your household until your test results are available.
The key message here is that everyone is still at risk of contracting COVID-19, even from family members and neighbours.
We are now in the sixth month since this virus was first diagnosed in Alberta. I know that it has been a long, tough road.
There has been a lot of talk about vaccines lately.
There are a number being tested around the world that show promise, and I hope that a safe and effective one is identified as soon as possible.
However, the focus on a vaccine can sometimes give a false confidence that the end of COVID-19 is just around the corner.
It can make us think that, if we resist changing our personal behavior for just a few more months, then a vaccine will arrive and we won’t need to worry about modifying how we act.
However, we cannot know when – or if – a highly effective vaccine will be identified. Even then, there is no way to know for sure when a vaccine would be available to Albertans.
It may take multiple doses over many weeks for our immune systems to develop sufficient disease-fighting antibodies.
The hard truth is that we will likely still be fighting COVID-19 in 2021, so we do need to build good daily habits now.
We have come far since March, but the basic health measures required to limit the spread remain the same.
For the health system, we must identify, test and care for cases, while quickly tracing and isolating close contacts.
That’s why we are working hard to reduce the time it takes to get tests done, and results received.
For all Albertans, we must keep our distance from others outside our household and cohorts, wash our hands regularly, stay home if we are sick, and wear masks when we are close to others outside our cohort and household.
When these measures are followed, our cases go down. When they’re not, our cases go up.
We must all embrace the changes that are part of living with COVID-19.
That means continuing each day to make wise decisions that make life safer – regardless of whether case numbers are rising or falling at any given time.
This weekend, I am asking all Albertans to make one small change in their lives. If you don’t have a mask, please get one.
If you haven’t instructed your kids on how to wear masks safely, take time to do that this weekend.
If you are going out to eat, shop or be in close contact with others, make sure you’re feeling well, wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, and follow all the guidance we’ve put out.
We are going be living with this virus for some time, so we must also celebrate the successes that we see around us.
With that in mind, I started today by saying thank you to the many people who are keeping us safe and healthy. But I wanted to save the biggest thanks for last.
Thank you to everyone who has embraced the public health measures and guidelines, and made them your own.
Thank you for incorporating hand washing, physical distancing, and staying home and getting tested if sick into your new normal.
Thank you for working within the limitations of your cohorts to maintain your social connections and activities while protecting others.
Thank you for bringing your own utensils and food to social gatherings, for using your elbows to press elevator buttons, for wearing a mask in public indoor spaces, and for your many kindnesses to people at greater risk or who are more isolated.
The most powerful tool we have against COVID-19 is our collective attitude, the strength of mind and community to stand up against a threat and protect each other.
Some things have changed since March, but one thing will always remain true: We will always be stronger together.
Thank you, and I’m happy to answer any questions.