Check against delivery.
Thank you, Tom, and good afternoon everyone.
Before we begin, I want to thank everyone who made safe choices over the long weekend.
This includes the more than 16,000 people who went to get tested this weekend.
And the over 86,000 people who rolled up their sleeves to be vaccinated.
Most of all, thank you to everyone who respected the public health restrictions in place and followed the rules over the May long weekend.
I do want to note that, unfortunately, over the long weekend, we saw a small increase in people not showing up for their vaccine appointments.
A one to three per cent no-show rate is typical but AHS noted the provincial no-show rate rose to over four per cent over the last three days.
This is likely related to the long weekend, and the wonderful weather we had.
But I want to remind people the importance of cancelling their appointments with AHS or pharmacies if they are no longer able to attend them.
Cancelling or modifying your appointment is easy to do online with Alberta Health Services or by calling HealthLink.
Pharmacies can be contacted online or phoning them directly as needed.
These no-shows are not resulting in vaccine wastage, but they do take an appointment from someone who wants it and they slow down our ability to vaccinate people as quickly as possible.
Turning to today’s update, over the last 24 hours, we have identified 387 new cases of COVID-19, and completed about 4,000 tests.
Our positivity rate currently stands at 9.9%.
There are now 565 people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, including 158 in the ICU.
Sadly, I must announce that 9 new deaths in people between the ages of 42 to 84 were reported to Alberta Health over the last 24 hours.
My deepest sympathies go to the family, friends and other loved ones of those mourning the loss of these individuals, and anyone else who has lost a loved one to any cause over the last few months.
Preventing severe outcomes is why we need to keep working together to stop the spread of COVID-19.
We have now administered more than 2.55 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
We continue to see remarkable uptake across the province, and I hope that we can keep this momentum going.
The more people who get immunized, the more successful that we will be at preventing waves in the future.
With more doses coming in, we are actively looking at more ways to reach key groups who may be having trouble accessing vaccine.
We are also looking at our current 16-week timing for second doses, and when we can begin to shorten that window based on incoming supply.
I hope to be able to update you soon about second dose timing.
It has now been three weeks since our latest health measures were announced, and I know that they have impacted all of us.
Yet the numbers show that our collective efforts are making a difference.
The reproductive rate in Alberta, or the R value, over the last week was 0.67.
This includes 0.62 in Calgary Zone and 0.71 in the Edmonton Zone.
We have seen a steady decline in new cases across the province, which is helping bring our active case count down, as well.
In fact, active cases have declined 52% from their peak earlier this month.
We are now seeing promising declines in hospitalization numbers, and, although it has rebounded a little bit in the last few days, we have started seeing our positivity rate decline as well.
This is yet another reminder that our actions matter, and collectively we have the power to bend the curve down and get us past this third wave.
I know making this kind of impact on the spread of COVID isn’t easy. It requires millions of people making sacrifices every day.
After almost 15 months, I know this is a tough time for us as a province.
They say that the last few miles in a race are the hardest, and that is what we are facing right now.
With cases declining and more vaccines being administered every day, we are rapidly approaching a point when we can safely begin to ease measures.
It’s close, and getting closer every day.
After such a long pandemic, it’s natural for all of us to be eager, and anxious for that day to arrive as quickly as possible.
But, though active cases have declined remarkably in recent weeks, there are still more than 12,000 active COVID-19 cases.
That’s the same number we had in mid-January.
We are getting close, and the best thing that we can do is to drive the spread down further is to step up for vaccines and follow the public health measures.
The more that we can reduce transmission, the more effective vaccines will be in protecting our communities when we start to ease things up in the near future.
I’ve know you’ve heard it countless times but, we need to continue protecting each other by minimizing close contacts for just a short while longer.
We know the rules in place are working.
Our recent numbers show this.
That progress, and the increasing percentage of Albertans stepping up to protect themselves and their communities through immunization, will allow us to start safely getting back to normal as soon as possible.
Thank you and I’m happy to take questions.