Check against delivery.
Thank you, Tom, and good afternoon everyone.
Over the last 24 hours, we have identified 877 new cases of COVID-19, and completed nearly 8,100 tests.
I am pleased to see our new case numbers declining – this suggests that our public health measures are beginning to have an impact, thanks to the sacrifices Albertans are making every day.
However, there is still more to do and we have a long way to go.
Our positivity rate currently stands at about 11.4%, and, despite lower daily case numbers, has remained at this high level for weeks. This remains concerning.
It’s easy to forget that at this time last year our positivity rate was about 1.5%, and this difference emphasizes why public health measures are still needed right now.
Our hospitalizations remain high with 691 people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, including 187 in the ICU.
Sadly, I must announce that four new deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours.
These individuals were loved, and I know they will be sorely missed by their family and friends, neighbours and communities.
My sympathies go out to those who are mourning someone they cared about, no matter the cause.
We have now administered more than 2.24 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
As more and more people get their shot, I know that many are wondering when exactly they will be able to get their second dose.
As I said last week, right now, second doses can be booked 3-to-4 weeks after the first for Albertans who are profoundly immunocompromised, by calling 811.
All other Albertans will have an opportunity to get their second dose about 3-to-4 months after their first dose.
I know that this wait can be frustrating.
But first doses provide good protection and delaying the second doses is allowing us to vaccinate the province as quickly as possible – which helps protect all of us by further reducing the spread.
Everyone who wants a vaccine will get one. No one will be missed.
With more vaccines arriving every week, we are looking at when we can start offering the second doses.
We don’t have an exact timeline yet for when this will occur, but we will update you when more information is available.
I am happy to say that more than half of Albertans over the age of 12 have now gotten at least one dose.
This is a significant feat, and something that we should all be proud of.
It is further proof that we are getting closer to the end, and that things are getting better.
The evidence on these vaccines is clear: they are effective and safe.
They help prevent transmission and strongly protect against severe outcomes.
However, our rates are still high and more than 2 million people still haven’t had their chance to receive a vaccine.
That is why we need to keep increasing immunization rates in all age groups 12 and over.
This is the key to controlling the spread of this virus and safely being able to ease the rules in place.
Until then, it’s important that all of us continue following all of the public health measures.
While it may be tempting to go visit grandchildren and give them a hug, or get together inside for a friend’s birthday – these activities are still not allowed.
This will not be the case forever. But right now, this will be the way we can protect each other and prevent spread while we are working to get vaccines to those we haven’t yet reached.
I know many people are anxious and eager to get back to normal. We all are.
Let’s use that as motivation over the next few weeks.
Motivation for us to book a vaccine appointment, if we have been waiting to do so, and motivation to follow the public health measures today so we can end the third wave and prevent more people from getting sick with this virus.
This will help all of us get where we want to be: A time when we can safely return to doing the things that we love and spending time with those who matter most.
Thank you and I’m happy to take questions.