Checked against delivery.
Thank you, Minister, and good afternoon, everyone.
I would like to remind Albertans that it continues to be important to stay home, if we are feeling even a little bit unwell.
And we encourage employers to help facilitate employees staying home if sick, to reduce the transmission of any virus, wherever possible.
This is why I am joining today’s update remotely.
While the focus of these updates is COVID-19, I would like to begin today with an update on an emerging public health matter, monkeypox.
I can confirm that in total as of today, four cases have been identified in Alberta.
These adult individuals are self-isolating and I want to express my appreciation for their assistance with contact tracing and investigation.
At this time, the overall risk of contracting monkeypox remains low in Alberta.
However, it is important to be aware that most, but not all, cases in this recent global outbreak have been seen in men who have reported sex with multiple male partners.
This means that there may be an elevated risk in that community right now.
We have reached out to organizations across the province serving this community, and after receiving feedback, have provided them information to best support them in outreach to their members.
I want to be clear that this specific outreach does not mean that this virus can only impact one community.
We are working with these organizations and sharing this current risk factor information to ensure people have accurate, timely data about the outbreak.
This is not being done to shame or stigmatize anyone.
And it does not mean that anyone who has contracted monkeypox or is a close contact, has done anything wrong.
Monkeypox is mainly spread by close skin-to-skin contact with somebody with symptoms, or by touching things contaminated with the virus such as sharing clothes or bedding.
It is critical that anyone experiencing symptoms, such as fever, swollen glands, new sores or a rash, self-isolate and call Health Link at 811.
These are common symptoms, and most people with these symptoms will have another cause, however being aware of these symptoms is particularly important for anyone who has recently had a new sexual partner or anyone who believes they have been in prolonged close contact with someone with monkeypox.
I want to underscore the importance of not shaming or stigmatizing any one group and at the same time providing accurate information so people can make informed chocies about their health.
Turning to today’s COVID update…
Between Tuesday, May 31st and Monday, June 6th, our PCR test positivity ranged from 13.1 to 17.1 per cent with an average of 15.1 per cent for the week.
As Minister Copping mentioned earlier, the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital has decreased.
Currently, there are 816 people with COVID, including 24 in the ICU.
This is a decrease of about 20 per cent over the past two weeks.
Sadly, between May 17th and May 23rd, 42 deaths related to COVID-19 were reported to Alberta Health.
I would also like to report that, following a recent review, as per our usual process, 33 previously reported COVID deaths between October 2021 and April 2022 have been reclassified as non-COVID and removed from our total.
As a result, this week, the total number of reported deaths from COVID have increased by 9 to 4,567.
We must never forget that this number represents thousands of Albertans who are loved by their family and friends and are greatly missed.
My sympathies are with the loved ones of these Albertans, and with anyone grieving the loss of someone they cared about, no matter the cause.
As Minister said, we are continuing to see a decrease in a number of our indicators.
And we know that we have the benefit of the summer season on our side to further drive down transmission.
However, that being said, it is important that we remember that learning to live with COVID does not meant forgetting about it.
COVID-19 is still present in our communities, and can pose a risk to us, our loved ones and our health-care system if we let it.
We only need to look to our data to see that there are still cases across the province, and while fewer by the day, there are still many Albertans who are seriously ill.
I want to remind Albertans who have not yet been vaccinated or who have not received all doses they are eligible for, that vaccines without a doubt continue to be our best protection.
Currently, less than 50 per cent of Albertans have received the third dose that they are eligible for.
If it has been five months since your second dose of vaccine and you are 12 years or older, I encourage you to get your third dose today.
As we think about our plans for the coming months, we need to continue to reflect on the information available to us, and make decisions based on our own personal context.
This means considering wearing a mask at times transmission is higher, or when gathering with loved ones who are at higher risks of severe outcomes.
In addition, it will always remain vital that all of us remember to continue good habits that will serve us well as we continue to live with COVID and other infections, such as washing our hands regularly, and avoiding being around others if we we are sick.
By continuing to take simple actions each day, we can continue to protect one another.Thank you, and we’re happy to take questions.