Alberta is taking a different path to navigate re-opening and easing COVID-19 restrictions in 2021 compared to last spring.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that is due to a number of factors, including ten times more people in hospital now, almost seven times as many active COVID-19 cases, and the presence of more infectious virus variants.
Still, Hinshaw applauded Albertans for bending the curve, as she announced just 259 new cases of the virus Wednesday.
The province now has 6,599 active cases, while 116,820 people have recovered.
There were 11 new deaths due to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,671. With about 6,837 COVID-19 tests completed since Monday, the province’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is 3.5 per cent. There are 539 people in hospital, including 94 in intensive care.
“To be clear, our province has made remarkable progress over these last two months, we have bent the curve,” Hinshaw said.
“Every Albertan can be proud of that. I know these gains have required deep sacrifices from many business owners and many other Albertans. At the same time, it is important that Albertans understand that we are at a very different place than we were at in May.
“Our caseload is higher, our hospitalizations are higher and the emergence of new variants poses a threat that could cause cases to spike again if we are not careful.”
Hinshaw also clarified comments she made Tuesday regarding the isolation of people who test positive with COVID-19 variant.
She said if those individuals choose to isolate at home, any close contacts in the home must isolate for 14 additional days, after the last day the person infected with the variant is at home in isolation – which lasts for 10 days.
She said with the common strain of COVID-19, isolating at home is acceptable as long as the person with the virus has a separate bathroom and bedroom and they can stay there for a full 10-day period while they are infectious.
With the more contagious variant, the chances of home isolation being effective is lower.
“In-home isolation with multiple people living in the same household is no longer considered adequate protection against transmission and that’s one thing we changed,” she said.
Central zone sits at 631 active cases and 8,278 recovered cases.
Red Deer is up to 196 active cases.
Red Deer County sits at 19 active cases on the municipality setting, where regions are defined by metropolitan areas, cities, urban service areas, rural areas, and towns with approximately 10,000 or more people; smaller regions are incorporated into the corresponding rural area.
Lacombe County has 27 active cases of the virus and Clearwater County has 44 active.
Lacombe has 17 active, Drumheller has nine active, Sylvan Lake has 33 active and Olds has four.
Mountain View County sits at 10 active, Kneehill County has two active and the County of Stettler has five active.
Camrose has 36 active and Camrose County has seven active.
Wetaskiwin sits at 28 active.
In the local geographic setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis, sits at 130 active cases. Rimbey, which includes West Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County one active. Ponoka, including East Ponoka County has 13 active.
Overall, there are 307 schools, about 13 per cent, on alert or have outbreaks, with 746 cases in total.
There are 278 schools on alert, with 507 total cases.
Outbreaks have now been declared in 29 schools, with a total of 239 cases.
In-school transmission has likely occurred in 69 schools. Of these, 54 have had only one new case occur as a result.