Premier Jason Kenney said he believes Alberta has crested the fourth wave of the pandemic, but still has to get through a long winter.
Kenney cautioned Albertans not to let down their guard and to keep following health rules and protocols — which will tighten next week for long-term care homes.
As of Oct. 25, all visitors in all areas of long-term care homes must wear masks, including inside the rooms of elderly residents, said Kenney. Some exceptions can apply where loss of hearing or dementia are issues.
All long-term residents must also quarantine after returning from a hospital stay of 24 hours or more until they get a negative COVID-19 test result, according to the new provincial rules that kick in next week.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said she “strongly encourages” unvaccinated people stay away from long-term care homes. But she’s leaving it up to the facility operators to decide if they want to set their own rules to formally exclude visitors who have not received a vaccine.
Kenney credited Albertans for following provincial restrictions and helping get past the worst of the fourth wave, which left more people than ever hospitalized around Sept. 26-27.
But while COVID-related hospitalization rates have fallen, Kenney said Albertans should not let their guards down because a long winter is approaching in which the virus can easily make a resurgence as more people remain indoors.
He noted the province has closed the vaccination gap, bringing the provincial total closer to the Canadian average. He urged those still unvaccinated to get the “jab” as Albertans continue following rules designed to limit the spread of the virus — including the proof-of-vaccination program that allows more indoor dining and entertainment facilities to operate.
On Tuesday, Alberta identified 531 new active COVID-19 cases, bringing the provincial total to 11,402.
The City of Red Deer has fallen to 442 active cases. This is 32 fewer cases than the 474 reported in Monday’s update, according to geospatial mapping on the provincial government’s website.
Twelve new deaths were also reported in Red Deer, bringing the province’s death toll to 2,988.
Of the new cases, 350 (64.22 per cent) were unvaccinated, 36 (6.6 per cent) were partially vaccinated and 159 (29.17) were completely vaccinated. Of the total active cases, 7,392 (64.83 per cent) are unvaccinated, 842 (7.38 per cent) are partially vaccinated and 3,168 (27.78 per cent) are fully vaccinated.
Provincially, there are 964 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 218 in intensive care units. In Alberta Health Services’ Central zone, there are 179 hospitalizations, including 21 in ICU.
Red Deer County has 134 active cases of the virus, Clearwater County has 155, Lacombe County has 146, the City of Lacombe has 92, Sylvan Lake has 70, Stettler County has 59, Mountain View County has 59 and Olds has 24.
Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis, has 240 active cases. Ponoka, including East Ponoka County, has 66 and Rimbey (West Ponoka County and parts of Lacombe County) has 59.
So far, 86.1 per cent of eligible Albertans (age 12 and older) have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 77.6 per cent have been fully vaccinated.