Check against delivery.

Thank you, Minister, and good afternoon everyone.

Over the last 24 hours, we have identified 1,254 new cases of COVID-19, and completed about 15,600 tests.  

Our positivity rate was about 8.1%.

It is encouraging to see four days of positivity under 10%, but it is much too early to declare victory.

This weekend poses a significant risk as you have already heard.

In order to keep numbers going down, we need all Albertans to have a safe Thanksgiving by having gatherings as small as possible.

There are currently active alerts or outbreaks in 751 schools. Of these, only 52 schools are on outbreak.

Our health-care system remains under extreme pressure.

Consider that a year ago, we had 92 people total hospitalized with COVID-19. Today, we have almost 1,100.

This time a year ago, there were 24 patients admitted to the ICU. Now, there are 248.

Sadly, over the last 24 hours, 13 new deaths were reported to Alberta Health. These individuals were between the ages of 55 and 91.

I extend my condolences to the family and friends of these Albertans.

Navigating the grief of losing a loved one is never easy, but it is even harder around the holidays.

Sadly, for many families, this will be the first Thanksgiving without that person they loved.

My thoughts are with every Albertan who is struggling with loss this weekend. You are not alone. Please reach out if you need support or help.

The vast majority of deaths we report each day are in people who are not fully vaccinated. I want to reiterate the importance of the protection of both doses of vaccine.

In addition, I want to remind you that if you are 75 or older, or a First Nation, Inuit or Métis individual 65 or older, please book your booster dose as soon as 6 months have passed since your second shot.

I know there are questions about booster doses for health-care workers. We continue to monitor all emerging evidence, and follow recommendations from the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization and look forward to receiving National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommendations.

 At this time, the evidence is that two doses of vaccine provides good protection against severe outcomes for all those younger than 75 years old. Our provincial committee has recommended boosters for only this older group at this time.

No decisions have been made on expanding boosters to health-care workers right now, but we continue looking closely at all the emerging evidence,

and we will revisit the conversation with our advisory committee later this month.

I want to take a moment now to address two common misconceptions I have seen about COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

The first is about the drug Ivermectin.

Despite what you may hear on social media, the evidence from extensive, high-quality scientific research around the world has not shown that Ivermectin works for COVID-19.

This drug is approved for human use to treat conditions such as infections caused by parasitic worms.

But COVID-19 is not a parasite, and taking these sorts of medications on your own is incredibly dangerous.

We have seen people needing hospital care for serious adverse effects after taking Ivermectin.

Others have gotten sick from COVID-19 because they chose a drug that will not help protect them instead of the protection that vaccines can offer.

The best and safest way to protect our health is by getting vaccinated. This is based on evidence from science around the world.

The second misconception I want to address is around the vaccine’s safety for those who are pregnant.

We have seen a continued rise in the number of pregnant Albertans admitted to ICU over the last month.

In fact, since my update on Sept. 9 when I discussed the increased risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19 for who those are pregnant, eight additional pregnant women have been admitted to intensive care due to the virus. 

Between July 15 and Sept. 28, a total of 14 pregnant women were admitted to ICU due to COVID-19.

While this may not seem like a big number to some, it is double the number of pregnant ICU admissions we saw in the entire first year of the pandemic.

We need everyone who is pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or who has recently delivered, to receive the protection of both doses of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

This is the best way to protect you – and your baby – from COVID-19 and the complications that can come with it.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there, but the data shows that vaccines are safe and effective.

For accurate and reliable information, speak to your health-care provider or call 811 or talk.

Finally, I want to end today by repeating my call from Tuesday: Our choices matter and it is critically important that we all make the safest choices this weekend.

Please follow the rules in place. Go above and beyond them whenever you can.

Let’s make our long weekend as small and socially distanced as possible.

We can connect virtually where possible, and outdoors if meeting in person.

As disappointing and frustrating as this may be, it is the reality of our current situation. A reality we all must face – and combat – together.

Viral spread is still high and our hospitals and health-care workers are still under extreme pressure.

Each of us has the power to make a difference and protect our communities.

Thank you, and we will now take questions.