Check against delivery.
Thank you, Tom and good afternoon everyone.
Over the last 24 hours, we have identified 875 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and completed almost 16,000 tests.
That puts our current positivity rate at about 5.3%.
Schools have resumed in-person classes. Right now, there are currently 4 schools on alert and one on outbreak, we have identified 6 cases in total.
Our health system remains under significant strain.
There are currently 820 people in hospital, including 137 who have been admitted to the ICU.
Sadly, 23 new deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the past 24 hours.
They ranged in age from 48 to 96 – men and women whose passing leaves a hole in the lives of those who cared about them.
I extend my sympathy to each person who is walking through grief right now, no matter the cause.
As we hear every day about the impact of the pandemic, it is easy to start to tune things out.
For example, for months now, I have been saying that ‘we’re all in this together’, and I know that for many, this phrase is wearing thin.
For many people, this time we are in now is the most challenging moment in the pandemic so far.
Few of us have ever lived through a time of adversity akin to what we are experiencing now – and hopefully we won’t be tested like this again.
But the phrase that I have often said is not a slogan.
It is an irrefutable biological fact of COVID-19 that we cannot escape or choose to opt out of.
COVID-19 shows us that a grocery store clerk is connected not only to the shopper, but also to the shopper’s kids, their co-workers and friends.
It shines a light on the link between a long-term care resident and the worker who cares for them, as well as the workers’ spouse, the co-workers of those spouses, and those co-workers’ friends.
COVID-19 doesn’t care about anyone’s race, religion, or political preferences.
All that matters to it is whether an infectious person is close enough to another person for long enough to be able for the virus to spread.
When cases rise, it is because we are infecting each other – and when cases fall, it is because we are protecting each other.
What we do with this reality is up to each of us.
Business owners who choose to reopen despite our current restrictions are increasing the number of close contacts that happen in their community, possibly making it harder for other business owners if that means restrictions need to stay in place for longer.
Business owners who prepare for a safe future re-opening, but follow the measures currently in place, are helping their communities, protecting our health care system, and helping us get to a low enough level of community transmission so re-opening can happen faster.
Communities who support their business owners through this difficult time are making it easier for them to do the right thing.
Twice now, we have reduced the rising spread by working together and bringing our contact numbers down.
This is the only tool we have to control the spread of the virus until enough vaccine is available to protect a majority of our population.
Until then, limiting in-person interaction is the best way to protect our health system and save lives.
We are reducing the spread right now because of the choices that 4.4 million Albertans are making every day.
It takes all of us. We are all impacted by the actions of those around us.
It is by acknowledging we are all connected, by valuing those connections and strengthening them in any way we can, that we will get through the coming months.
Like it or not, we cannot choose to opt out of community.
We rise or fall together. And none of us can do this alone.
Thank you and I am happy to take questions.