Checked against delivery.
Thank you, Minister, and good afternoon, everyone.
As the Minister mentioned, the numbers we are sharing are from the reporting period Tuesday, April 12th to Monday, April 18th.
In those seven days, our PCR test positivity ranged from 20.8 per cent to 30.2 per cent.
As the Minister mentioned, there are currently 1,126 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 43 in the ICU.
Sadly, between April 12th and April 18th, an average of 7 deaths per day related to COVID-19 were reported to Alberta Health.
These losses and others that have happened due to any cause leave holes in our families, friend circles and communities.
And my sympathies are with anyone who has lost a loved one.
As transmission continues with BA.2, we have seen more breakthrough infections in those with a full vaccine series.
Given that, I know there are questions about the importance of vaccines right now, and I want to remind Albertans of what the data shows us.
When we look at the difference in the risk of severe outcomes by vaccination status, it is very clear that vaccines are critically important in lowering the risks for hospitalizations and deaths.
If we look at everyone in Alberta age 5 and up, in the last four months, those who were not vaccinated were more than three times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, and almost eight times more likely to be admitted to ICU than those who had three doses of vaccine.
For those aged 80 and older, in whom the risk of severe outcomes is highest, those who were not vaccinated were more than four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID in the last four months, and almost six times more likely to die from COVID than those who had three doses of vaccine.
It has always been true that most people who get COVID do not need hospital care, and especially with high two dose coverage, at this point the initial infection will be mild for most people.
Some individuals may not even notice their symptoms until a couple of days have passed, owing to spring and allergy season.
Many may be tempted to shrug off these mild symptoms and continue to go about their daily business – to work, to run errands, and to take part in regular activities.
However, it is important to remember that doing this can have serious consequences for others around you.
The rules for isolation in our province remain the same: If you test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19, you are required to isolate at home and away from others.
For those who have two or more doses of vaccine, this is for a minimum of five days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
For those with one or no doses of vaccine, the requirement is for 10 days or until symptoms resolve.
If you feel sick, even if you test negative, please stay home and away from others until you are feeling better.
This means not going to work, school, or any other activities outside the home.
In addition to staying home when sick, it’s also important to remember that there are still precautions in place in settings where those with high risk factors are present.
Masking is required in continuing care and acute care as well as on public transit.
If you visit your doctor’s office or another health care service, be prepared to wear a mask to protect those around you and make health care settings safe spaces for everyone.
This transition period is allowing space for all of us to adjust -- both back to a some what more-normal life -- and also adapting to the new considerations that each one of us must take into account.
Each person’s balance of risks and benefits is different and the many decisions each of us have to make every day are also informed by what the transmission risk is in our communities.
It can be helpful to check the weekly data updates, looking at wastewater trends and geographic distribution of cases to get information on what your local exposure risk is like.
You can also consider how many people you will be around and what their exposure risks might be as a guide to the kinds of precautions you might take, such as masking or distancing.
It’s also important to remember that all of us face many risks every day, and COVID is one risk among these many.
We have focused on it primarily for a long time, and yet now our context is different.
It is important to remember this also as we try to balance the competing considerations in our lives.
Please be patient with others and with yourself as we all navigate through this time, and continue to do what we can to keep all of us safe and healthy.
Thank you, and we’re happy to take questions.