Check against delivery.
Thank you Tom. Good afternoon everyone.
Before we begin, I want to update you on the technical issues that have been affecting our reporting system.
Teams at Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services worked all weekend to fix the problem.
We are updating our dashboard today, including case breakdowns by zone and updates of the school and relaunch maps.
The only outstanding issue involves our total overall testing numbers.
There is some final data that is being reconciled and we will have that information updated as soon as possible later this week.
We have committed to being as timely and transparent as possible.
I know that many people care about this information and I thank you for your patience during these last few days.
Turning to today’s numbers, we have identified 644 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.
There are now almost 8,000 active cases in the province.
Currently, there are 192 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 39 in intensive care.
As I’ve said, it is vital that we protect the health system. These numbers are concerning and we are considering what further steps may be needed.
We are confirming the exact figure but about 13,000 tests were conducted yesterday, with a positivity rate of approximately 5%.
Sadly, I must report that there have been 7 new deaths.
I extend my deepest condolences to anyone who is grieving today.
Each death is a loss for our community, and a reminder of the importance of containing community transmission.
We cannot simply dictate where and when this virus will spread.
We all need to protect each other.
Turning to schools, as of today, there are active alerts or outbreaks in 285 schools.
That is about 12% of the schools in the province.
Currently, these schools have 911 active cases in total.
This number includes 57 schools that are currently on the watch list.
So far, in-school transmission has likely occurred in 123 schools.
Of these, about half have had only one new case occur as a result.
I also want to let Albertans know that outbreaks have been declared at two sites supporting vulnerable peoples in Calgary.
An outbreak has now been declared at the Calgary Drop-In Centre. There are currently 11 cases identified, and widespread testing is underway.
Outbreaks have also been declared at both Alpha House, where there are two cases, and one of their transitional housing units, where 5 cases have been identified.
We are taking these outbreaks extremely seriously.
Health screening of all staff and shelter clients is underway and onsite testing is being conducted.
AHS is working with various government and social agencies to support those who’ve been impacted.
The risk of spread to this population is a reflection of the larger community spread that we are seeing, and another reminder that we must protect each other.
Rising numbers also make it more challenging to participate in some of our upcoming traditions safely, but we can still honour these traditions with some changes this year.
Today, I want to recognize Remembrance Day and Diwali, both of which are coming up this week.
Remembrance Day is on Wednesday. I know this is an important and solemn time where we come together to honour sacrifice.
While ceremonies and tributes will look different this year due to COVID-19, we can still commemorate this day, while protecting one another.
A number of annual large-scale events throughout the province have moved to a virtual format, and many Legions will be holding smaller gatherings for their members.
I encourage you to participate virtually if possible.
For those organizing ceremonies or events this week, please respect gathering limits, both indoor and outdoors.
And remember, smaller is better right now.
Organizers should consider ways to screen people who are attending, to confirm they are not symptomatic or close contacts of a confirmed case.
Most importantly, if any of us are feeling unwell, we need to stay home and recognize this day privately.
I know this is a sacrifice, but it is an important one.
We have posted advice on alberta.ca for Remembrance Day, and I will tweet out a link today.
It is also Diwali on Saturday.
I know the festival of lights is a very special occasion for many Albertans.
As with Remembrance Day, I am not asking you to stop celebrating this occasion.
But it is essential that we consider COVID-19 while planning and attending any events.
If you are in Edmonton or Calgary, please do not plan to host anyone at your home who does not live with you and please do not attend a gathering at a home where you do not live.
Outside the home, keep your gatherings as small as possible, and no more than 15 in total when in any area of the province on enhanced precautions.
Connect with others virtually whenever possible.
Please wear a mask whenever you are in close contact with anyone not from your cohort, especially while you are indoors.
And I need to stress that if you are sick with even mild symptoms, you need to stay home and attend virtually or celebrate in private.
I, like many others, am extremely concerned by the spread that we are seeing.
This weekend, we saw a daily record for new cases reported on Saturday, followed by high numbers on Sunday and today.
Although the last few days have been a bit lower, we expect some variation from day to day and we have not yet turned the corner that we must turn.
Cases continue to rise and, if we do not bend the curve back soon, we may see further surgeries being postponed or other impacts on health services.
It generally takes one to two weeks to see the impact of new measures like the ones that Alberta announced on Friday.
However, the rate of increase and rising hospitalizations are extremely concerning to me.
We are assessing measures closely.
If needed, we do not need to wait 14 days before recommending additional measures.
This is a critical juncture, and we need to get our cases down to below 100 new cases per day in our big cities, with a growth rate, or R value, of less than 1.
Our growth rate has risen in Edmonton to 1.1, up from last week.
In Calgary, there is a slight decline but still a growth trend at 1.1 as well.
And in the rest of Alberta, the growth is even higher with an R value of 1.2.
We can only change this by working together.
I want to end today by speaking directly to those people who feel they are not at risk right now.
After eight months, I know that some people have let their guard down, often because they have not personally contracted the virus and they don’t know anyone who has either.
Why take extra precautions? Why limit what you do when you have not gotten sick?
I understand the fatigue and frustration, and the desire to go back to the old normal. But COVID-19 does not play favourites.
It is in every part of our province. Every community has been touched by it.
We’ve seen this virus spread from one case to dozens in a few days, and from a few hundred to almost a thousand in a week.
If you have not gotten sick, and if you don’t know anyone who has, then you must do everything possible to keep it that way.
We all have a role to play in suppressing transmission and together we have the power to lower our case counts.
We all must seize the opportunity presented to us.
We are strongest when we all work together.
Thank you and I am happy to take any questions you may have.