Check against delivery.

Thank you, Tom, and good afternoon everyone.

Over the last 24 hours, we identified 456 new cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Our labs completed about 8,200 tests, and the positivity rate was about 5.6%.

Our positivity rate is declining, but it is still far above the one-to-three percent that we saw for most of the summer and fall.

The numbers fluctuate on a daily basis, but we continue to see an overall decline in our testing numbers from last month.

We don’t know all the reasons for this, but one factor could be fewer people getting sick.

While having fewer people showing symptoms and needing testing is a good thing, I want to remind anyone who experiences any symptom of COVID-19 to stay home and book testing immediately.

Tests are available within 24 hours all across the province.

Turning to schools, there are currently active alerts in 147 schools and outbreaks in 2 schools, or about 6% of schools in the province all together.  

There are 212 total cases linked to these schools.

Our hospitalizations remain high and the strain on our acute care system is still being felt with 740 people in hospital, including 119 who have been admitted to the ICU.

Sadly, 17 new deaths have been reported to us in the last 24 hours.

My deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of these individuals.

These were parents, grandparents, siblings, co-workers, neighbours and friends to many, and their loss is felt by communities across Alberta.

Turning to vaccine, I know that there are still some questions about those seniors who have and haven’t been offered vaccine.

As I noted yesterday, staff and residents in all long-term care and designated supportive living facilities have received the first dose, except for those who declined or could not receive it due to illness, absence or a medical contraindication.

Residents in facilities that are mixed are also receiving the vaccine if there is an opportunity for residents who are a part of a long-term care or designated supportive living site to interact and mingle on a daily basis with those in beds of different care needs.

Many of these residents in mixed sites received the vaccine at the same time as those in the long-term care and designated supportive living.

But Alberta Health Services may need to immunize some separately due to the vaccine shortage.

I know there are families with residents in other types of facilities wondering when their loved ones will have access to the vaccine.

We started with long-term care and designated supportive living facilities because residents in these locations are the most at risk.

Two out of every three Albertans who have died from COVID-19 live in these settings.

We will be administering vaccine to all other settings where Albertans age 75 or older live as a part of our next phase.

We want to begin this as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the exact timing depends on when the vaccine arrives.

Finally, since the updated measures were announced on Thursday, we’ve received many questions about when other restrictions will be eased and when people can expect to resume other activities that they love.

It’s natural to want to get back to all the things we’ve missed during the last six weeks.

Our health system is still under severe strain, with 740 people still in hospital.

This continues to impact our ability to deliver care, not only for COVID-19 but all the other health needs that Albertans have.

I know this is challenging, but we all must continue supporting each other by doing everything possible to reduce the spread of COVID and to protect our health system for a little while longer.

The more successful we can be at this reduction, the sooner we are in a position where we can consider safely and slowly relaxing other measures in the days and weeks ahead.

Thank you and I am happy to answer questions.