COVID-19 Updates: State of public health emergency declared.
Check against delivery.
Thank you, Chris, and good afternoon everyone.
I want to begin today by thanking everyone who participated in last night’s telephone town hall on COVID-19 vaccines, pregnancy and fertility.
It was great to see strong engagement and thoughtful questions from participants and I appreciated the expertise my medical colleagues, Dr. Kuret and Dr. Castillo, shared in response.
A recording of last night’s town hall is now available at alberta.ca/townhall.
We are also developing additional resources based on the important questions we received last night and those will be posted next week.
If you or someone you know is pregnant, trying to become pregnant or has recently given birth and has questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, please review the information available on alberta.ca or speak to a physician.
The risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection in pregnant women has increased with variants of concern, including the Delta variant that is now the dominant strain in Alberta.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is the best way to protect both parent and child from the virus and the long-lasting side effects it can cause.
I’d like to remind Albertans that vaccine hesitancy can be very complex and we know that fear and uncertainty are major drivers of it.
To help address this, it’s critical that people seek accurate information from trusted, expert sources to make the best informed decision that they can.
It’s just as important that vaccine-hesitant individuals are treated with compassion and understanding as they go through that decision-making process.
If there is someone in your life going through this, I encourage you to reach out and offer supports to help connect them with reliable resources.
Turning to today’s numbers, over the last 24 hours, we identified 531 new cases of COVID-19, and completed about 10,200 tests.
Our positivity rate was about 5.4%.
There are currently active alerts or outbreaks in 245 schools.
Of these, 3 schools had 10 or more COVID cases who attended in the last 14 days while infectious.
We continue to see a slow and steady decline in hospitalizations and there are currently 779 people in hospital, including 185 in the ICU.
Sadly, I must announce that 12 new deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours.
I extend my condolences to those mourning the passing of these people, and to anyone who has recently lost someone they cared about no matter the cause.
You are not alone and there are supports to help you during this difficult time.
While we are still dealing with the fourth wave, there are joyful moments in our lives. I know that Halloween is a favourite time of year for many young – and young at heart Albertans.
As we head into the weekend and trick-or-treaters put the final touches on their costumes, I ask everyone to follow these basic measures to celebrate safely.
First, if you are feeling even slightly unwell you need to stay at home and you should not hand out candy. As disappointing as it may be to miss out, staying home when we have symptoms, even minor ones, is extremely important.
If you are going trick-or-treating, only go with members of your household. Be sure to wear a non-medical mask and sanitize your hands often.
If you’re handing out candy, please look for ways to limit contact with others. That may mean setting treats out outside spaced apart for contactless pick-up or using tongs to hand them out while wearing a mask.
If you are planning to gather with anyone outside your household, you are legally required to follow the private social gathering restrictions that are in place.
This means no indoor private social gatherings for adults who are not fully immunized and indoor gatherings for those who are fully immunized are limited to up to 10 people with no more than 2 households.
If you are gathering in-person, holding it outdoors is the lower risk option. Just be sure there are no more than 20 people in attendance and that there is 2 metres of distancing between members of different households.
These simple precautions can be very effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19 if we all do our part. We’ve shown they work time and time again. Let’s make good choices to ensure there’s no Halloween spike in two weeks from now.
Finally, I want to thank Albertans for continuing to drive cases down by following public health measures and getting fully vaccinated. The last month has shown us just how powerful that combination is.
I also want to remind Albertans that free influenza shots are available to anyone six months of age and older. If you haven’t yet received your flu shot, please do so as soon as you can.
Appointments are available through the online Alberta Vaccine Booking System or by contacting your local pharmacy directly. If you still need to get a COVID vaccine dose, you can get your COVID vaccine at the same time to protect you from both viruses.
Thank you and I will now take questions.