Check against delivery.
Thank you, Minister, and good afternoon everyone.
In the last 24 hours, we have identified 663 new cases and completed about 8,000 tests.
Our positivity rate was about 8.8 per cent.
That is good news, but we must continue to watch closely as a single day’s numbers is less important than overall trends, and the coming days will be critical to determine what those are.
Currently, 1,094 people are being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including 252 in the ICU.
I am saddened to report that 26 more deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours. My condolences go out to their loved ones, and to all who have lost a family member or friend during this difficult time.
I would like to briefly provide a few more details on COVID-19 spread in schools.
As we are all aware, cases have been rising for the past several weeks. While this has impacted all ages, we have seen the highest rates recently in school-aged Albertans.
Currently those between the ages of 5 and 19 make up about a quarter of our active cases.
To be clear, children who contract COVID are still at a much lower risk of severe outcomes than adults.
As of October 3, only about one per cent of COVID patients in hospital are under 18 years of age.
I want to reassure parents that even with our current numbers, there is a very low likelihood of children becoming severely ill.
However, we also know that children can spread to others around them, especially in their households, and the current high rate of cases requires special measures to help reduce transmission.
We are focusing on schools right now because of the sharp rise in school-aged cases and the challenges involved in preventing transmission.
Child care and day care centres have not seen the same high-level of spread and have always had COVID-19 outbreak notifications to help operators and parents support and protect smaller groups of children.
By introducing contact notification and public reporting in schools, in combination with measures that are already in place in the classroom….
…we will add new layers of protection to help bend down the curve and keep kids safe in the days ahead.
That is why, beginning immediately, we are moving back to a case-based definition for outbreaks in schools.
As the Minster announced, any school with at least two cases of COVID-19 who were infectious while in school will be listed online,
….and parents will be informed by directly if there are cases in their children’s school.
Any school with 10 or more cases of COVID-19 who were infectious while at school during a two-week period will be declared an outbreak.
Those schools will be listed on alberta.ca starting tomorrow.
I know many Albertans will be looking for the map we provided last year. We intend to have that ready in a few weeks.
While we are taking these steps to best support classrooms and in-person learning, the best way we can ensure children are protected is through vaccines.
Right now, we have access to safe and effective vaccines, but only about 65 per cent of youth aged 12 to 19 are fully vaccinated.
We have been holding vaccination clinics in junior and senior high schools to improve accessibility, but we need to get these numbers higher.
I encourage every parent or guardian to arrange to have their child fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
This will not only help them have individual protection but it will help us grow our community immunity, and protect children under 11.
As the Premier announced, the restriction on outdoor gatherings has dropped to 20 people, and indoor gatherings are still not permitted for those who are not vaccinated.
Even if everyone has both doses, indoor social gatherings must be limited to no more than 10 people – but the fewer people, the better.
I know asking people not to gather in big groups at Thanksgiving will disappoint many.
That’s why I would like to end by talking to anyone who feels that they are only one person, and is wondering if their choices make any difference.
You may be seeing others breaking the rules and think, “Why should I follow the measures if others aren’t?”
I want to tell you today that you matter.
Every person’s actions can potentially lead to a chain of transmission that can cause death, hospitalization, or long COVID in someone you may not even know.
Your actions could also prevent or stop a chain of COVID, which means you have saved lives and protected the health care system in crisis.
You also matter because other people are looking at you, and may use your actions to justify their choice to break the rules, or may be encouraged to follow the rules because they see you setting an example. Simply put: You matter.
This coming weekend for Thanksgiving, I am asking you to not just meet but exceed the rules we have in place.
Show your care for your family by having only a small gathering outside. Don’t have an indoor gathering, even if you and your guests are fully vaccinated, just to be extra cautious at this critical time.
If you are reluctant to do this for yourself or your family….
…do it for the health care workers who are giving every ounce of their energy to caring for people in critical condition, telling family that their loved ones have died, and struggling to keep the health care system running.
Your actions have never mattered more – and they will make a difference.
Thank you, Dr. Yiu will now provide her update on the health system.