Check against delivery.

Thank you, Premier, and good afternoon everyone.

Before I get to today’s numbers, I would like to clarify a small point about the different types of valid proof of vaccination accepted under the Restrictions Exemption Program.

I want to remind all businesses and organizations participating in the program that proof of vaccination from out-of-province, military or First Nations health clinics are valid for entry.

They may look a little different from Government of Alberta documentation but they are acceptable options.

Turning to today’s numbers…

Over the last 24 hours, we identified 531 new cases of COVID-19, and completed about 8,000 tests. 

Our positivity rate was about 6.7%.

There are currently active alerts or outbreaks in 315 schools. Of these, four schools are on outbreak with 10 or more COVID cases who attended school in the last 14 days while infectious.

As the Premier noted, we continue to see a modest decline in hospitalizations. There are currently 964 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including 218 in the ICU.

Pressure is easing a little on our health-care system, but we still have a long way to go.

Sadly, over the last 24 hours, 12 new deaths were reported to Alberta Health.

My deepest sympathies are with the family and loved ones of these individuals, and anyone else who has lost someone they cared about to any cause.

As the Premier announced, we are making some updates to help reduce the risk of transmission in continuing care facilities. I’d like to explain a few more details about these changes.

Starting on Monday, all visitors will be required to wear a mask in all indoor areas of the building, including in residents’ rooms. This applies to all visitors, whether they are unvaccinated, or partially or fully vaccinated.

The only exception will be in cases where there are significant communication challenges, such as a resident being hard of hearing or an individual with dementia. If you feel your mask will limit your ability to communicate with your loved one, please reach out to your site operator to discuss this.

The second change relates to quarantining and testing. We want to make it harder for the virus to enter these facilities.

To increase protection, all long-term care and designated supportive living residents, regardless of their vaccination status, must be quarantined temporarily when being admitted to a facility from acute care, or returning from a hospital stay that was longer than 24 hours.

The quarantine will last only until they receive a negative PCR test.

While this quarantine period is expected to only be a few days long while awaiting test results, I know this can be very difficult for residents and families.

This is intended to help prevent the virus from entering these facilities, where we know it can possibly spread quickly and put many at risk.

I will also be sending a letter out strongly encouraging family and friends who are not fully vaccinated to not visit or attend to residents in person.

I know this will impact residents in different ways, but it is very important to help protect residents and staff from COVID-19.

Fully vaccinated Albertans who have no signs of illness can continue to see their loved ones who are residents in these facilities as often as they wish.

While this is a recommendation, in the letter, I will also reinforce that operators have the authority to implement additional mandatory measures in their facilities as appropriate in consultation with their residents and families.

This could include requirements for proof of vaccination or rapid testing for visitors entering the site.

Operators have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic, and their goal is always to protect the health of our loved ones who live in these facilities.

It is essential that all visitors to continuing care facilities follow all rules in place, whether set provincially or locally.

It’s been a long and hard pandemic for everyone, but especially for continuing care facility residents, operators, staff, and visitors.

I want to thank you all once again for adapting and following these new requirements to keep our most vulnerable Albertans safe.

These changes come into effect on Monday, Oct. 25th and they are necessary to help protect our most vulnerable Albertans who are still at risk.

I’d like to end today by thanking everyone who continues to do their part to bend the curve down in Alberta by following the health measures in place and looking for ways to limit in-person interactions.

Our collective efforts are making a difference in– let’s keep it up, continuing to ease the pressure on our health care system so all Albertans can receive the care they need for any health issue.

I’ll now pass it on to Dr. Yiu for an update on the health system.