Check against delivery.
Thank you, Premier, and good afternoon everyone.
Before I get to today’s update, I want to provide a note on the change that we are making to how AstraZeneca is used in Alberta.
More than 255,000 doses of AstraZeneca has been administered in the province, which means there are more than a quarter of a million people with protection from infection and severe outcomes that they would not otherwise have had.
However, based on global supply challenges, we do not know when Canada, and in turn Alberta, will receive additional doses.
That is why, effective today, we are holding our remaining AstraZeneca supply for either those who have a contraindication to an mRNA vaccine,
Or for second doses, recognizing that some Albertans will need a second dose beginning in early June.
This means that all new first dose appointments, unless there is a contraindication, are being booked with the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna.
We are receiving more than 230,000 doses a week of these vaccines.
I know there are some questions about whether Albertans who received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine will be able to receive an mRNA vaccine for their second dose.
No decisions have been made at this time, but we are reviewing all available evidence and awaiting the results of clinical trials in the UK.
I also want to be clear that we are waiting at least 12 weeks before beginning second doses for those who received AstraZeneca vaccine,
As clinical trials on this vaccine showed that shorter intervals resulted in less protection than waiting for 12 weeks.
As always, we will share any updates as soon as we can.
Turning to today’s numbers, over the last 24 hours, we have identified 1,449 new cases of COVID-19, and completed about 11,800 tests.
Our positivity rate was about 12.7%.
Our growth rate has declined slightly across the province.
Alberta’s reproductive rate, or R value for May 3rd to 9th decreased from 1.12 to 1.
The Calgary Zone dropped from 1.16 to 1.06,
Edmonton Zone dropped from 0.99 to 0.96, and the biggest drop was seen in the rest of the province as they declined from 1.18 to 0.94.
These are positive signs that transmission may be starting to slow – although the Calgary Zone is still quite high.
Having said that, it is important to note that our active case count is the second-highest that it’s ever been and our positivity rate is still very high.
There are now 705 people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, including 163 in the ICU.
Sadly, I must announce that three new deaths were reported to Alberta Health within the last 24 hours.
I know there are many in the province experiencing grief, and my sympathies are with the loved ones of all those who passed away from COVID-19 or any other cause.
I ask that if you know someone who is grieving today, that you reach out to let them know that you are thinking about them.
These difficult days are made harder by current public health measures, and yet we can still help each other through this difficult time.
I would like to remind Albertans that all the restrictions that were announced last week are now in effect.
In addition to the province-wide measures, there are additional restrictions in place for areas with at least 50 cases per 100,000 people, and at least 30 active cases.
We have received questions about these regional thresholds, so I’d like to clarify that any area that meets or exceeds these active case rates and active case numbers will automatically have the additional restrictions go into effect.
These restrictions remain in place for at least 3 weeks, even if a community moves below the threshold, and will be extended if necessary.
I know restrictions are never easy, even after more than a year of living with COVID-19.
I also recognize they have impacts on the lives of Albertans.
Unfortunately, they are necessary to get this third wave under control and relieve the building pressure on our healthcare system.
There are also key to giving us more time to get more people vaccinated.
I want to thank every single Albertan who continues to do their part to help us get through this pandemic.
From following public health orders to getting immunized, you are making a difference.
Thank you and we’re happy to take questions.