Check against delivery.

Thank you, Lisa, and good afternoon everyone.

Over the last 24 hours, we identified 770 new cases of COVID-19, and completed about 11,800 tests. 

Our positivity rate was about 6.5%.

There are currently active alerts or outbreaks in 288 schools.

Of these, 4 schools had 10 or more COVID cases who attended in the last 14 days while infectious.

There are currently 912 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including 201 in the ICU.

We continue to see these numbers declining, but it’s important to remember that this takes time, and this trend could reverse quickly if we are not careful.

Sadly, over the last 24 hours, 8 new deaths were reported to Alberta Health.  

I want to send my condolences to everyone grieving the loss of these Albertans, and to anyone who is grieving loved ones lost to any cause.

I know their passing leaves a hole in their families and their communities.

We continue to see that the majority of Albertans ending up in hospital, requiring care in the ICU, or dying from COVID-19, are unvaccinated.

That’s why we continue to urge every eligible person in the province – anyone 12 years of age or older – to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

This is especially important for those individuals who face a higher risk of serious outcomes and those who have health conditions that produce a weaker immune response to the vaccine.

It’s been wonderful to see a strong uptake from those Albertans eligible for third doses over the last few weeks.

So far, more than 231,000 booster doses have been administered to:

  • those with severely immune-compromising conditions;
  • to First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals aged 65 and older;
  • and to seniors age 75 and older.

If you are in these groups, please remember that an important time period needs to pass between getting your second dose and when you can get your booster.

For those with one of the eligible immunocompromising conditions, the booster can be administered 8 weeks after your second dose. This is because for these people, the third dose is considered a part of the primary series.

For everyone else who is eligible, the third dose is a booster to strengthen and prolong the protection from the primary series of 2 doses.

Waiting until 6 months have passed since your second dose is important in order to maximize how long the protection will last.  

Before booking, if you are 75 and older or a First Nations, Métis or Inuit individual 65 and older, please check the date on your immunization record to make sure that you are now eligible and that 6 months or more has passed from your second dose.

While we offer boosters to these groups, we also know there are still people who don’t have the protection that the first and second doses of the vaccines offer.

There continues to be a lot of misinformation about vaccines on social media that we are working hard to address.

In particular, we have heard questions about whether the vaccines impact fertility or are safe for pregnant women.

As I’ve said before, there is no evidence suggesting that these vaccines impact fertility in any way.

Studies done on both male and female fertility outcomes after vaccine have shown no negative consequences.

Vaccines are also recommended for anyone who is pregnant or nursing, as the risk of severe outcomes of COVID infection in pregnant women has increased with variants of concern.

Vaccine safety is a critical issue in pregnancy, and data from thousands of pregnant women who have received vaccine has not shown any increased risk in pregnancy.

However, I know that Albertans still have questions about this.

So, to help answer these questions, I will be hosting a telephone town hall next week joined by other physicians to answer questions about vaccines, fertility and maternal health.

This town hall will be open to anyone who is interested in this topic.

I’ll be tweeting out a registration link and sharing it online as soon as possible. It’s free for anyone who wants to call in and ask a question about this issue.

I’d like to end today by talking about Halloween, which is little more than a week away.

I know that many Albertans eagerly anticipate this day as my children and I also do.

The fun of finding the right costume and going out trick-or-treating is part of the joy of childhood and we can keep this joy while at the same time protecting our communities.

I’m asking Albertans as clearly and strongly as possible to please be wise and safe while celebrating this year.  

We have posted tips and advice online to keep our Halloween fun on the safe side. I’d encourage everyone who is planning activities to review this information.

There a few key pointers that I’d like to flag right now.

First, and this is most important, if you are sick with even mild symptoms, please stay home and don’t hand out candy.

Second, this is not the year for large Halloween parties. If you’re planning a Halloween gathering, try to have it outdoors, and make sure that the limit of no more than 20 people is observed, with 2 metres of distancing between members of different households.

For indoor Halloween gatherings, the current public health restrictions strictly limit social gatherings in private residences to no more than 10 people from 2 households for those who are fully immunized.

For eligible adults who are not fully immunized, indoor private social gatherings are not permitted.

If you’re going trick-or-treating, be sure to wear a non-medical mask and go only with your own household members.

Sanitize your hands often – especially before eating treats – and keep your distance from others.

If you’re handing out treats, you should also wear a mask and try to limit contact with others. This could mean using tongs to hand out pre-packaged treats or setting them out on a blanket or tray for contactless pick-up.

If you are setting out treats, avoid using a bowl, but please keep those treats spaced apart.

Last year, we saw many generous Albertans get innovative when finding ways to safely deliver candy, and I heard from many Albertans who enjoyed the day.

We can have fun with it again this year, with creative ways to celebrate the occasion.

While our numbers have been falling over the last few weeks with rising vaccination rates combined with our public health measures to reduce transmission, we still have a long way to go.

Last Halloween, we had about 5,600 active cases. Right now, we have almost double that amount.

Last Halloween, there were 141 COVID patients in hospital. Right now, there are over 900.

This Halloween, we can still have fun, but please do it in a safe way.

Thank you and I’m happy to take questions.