Alberta reports 3 more COVID-19 deaths, 28 new cases
So far, 32 people have died from illness since the outbreak began in early March
Three more people have died from COVID-19 in Alberta, and 28 new cases have been reported.
The latest numbers bring the total number of deaths to 32 and the total number of cases to 1,451.
There were 827 active cases in the province on Thursday, down from 875 the day before. In all, 592 people have recovered from the illness.
The most recent deaths were two women, one in her 80s and one in her 60s, in the Calgary zone and a man in his 70s in the Edmonton zone.
Nursing homes have been hit hard by the outbreak, with 151 cases of COVID-19 infecting staff and residents at care centres. Shepherd's Care Kensington in Edmonton has 17 cases in the independent living portion of that facility, up from 11 cases the day before.
At her daily news conference on Thursday, the province's chief medical officer of health commended the residents who have continued to follow public health orders about social distancing.
"You are saving lives," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw. "As a doctor for the population, I know that the medicine of physical distancing that I am currently prescribing is a bitter pill to swallow. But we must remain vigilant."
Long weekend a 'difficult test'
Hinshaw had a message for Albertans as they look toward the coming weekend.
"As we head into the long weekend, I hope we can all look at what we can do individually to protect ourselves and those around us," she said. "This weekend and the weeks ahead will be a difficult test for all of us who normally come together to celebrate the holidays.
"I know so many of you wish to gather together with family and friends to remember the Way of the Cross, to share a Seder meal, or to break your fast after sundown during Iftar, but we must remain vigilant.
"To protect ourselves, our family, and those in our community, we must remain apart during these religious holidays."
She said anyone planning to attend a drive-in religious service this weekend should remember that only members of the same family should be in a vehicle together.
"You should not pick up people from multiple households and then sit together at a drive-in service," she said.
People should not get out of their vehicles at the services, Hinshaw said.
"Do not travel this weekend. Stay home. Stay in your community and on your property. This virus can too easily spread from the touch of a serving spoon, a kiss to the cheek, or droplets carried through the breath of someone singing, chanting or even laughing."
Influenza numbers down dramatically
Hinshaw said a drop in influenza numbers in the province shows physical distancing is effective.
"There are some early signs that we are making a difference," she said.
"For instance, in the past few weeks we have seen a significant drop in the number of confirmed influenza cases. While we would expect a slow reduction at this time of year, the drop over the last couple of weeks has been dramatic.
"This is a promising sign that our measures are working, but we cannot lose sight of our goal."
Breakdown of COVID-19 cases
The regional breakdown of COVID-19 cases on Thursday was:
- Calgary zone: 878
- Edmonton zone: 376
- North zone: 97
- Central zone: 72
- South zone: 26
- Unknown: 2
As of Thursday, 192 cases in the province are thought to have involved community transmission.
More than a month has passed since the coronavirus was first detected in Alberta, and people have become accustomed to being bombarded by numbers.
Each number represents someone special, a mother or father, a son or daughter, a grandparent.
That's one message Hinshaw has consistently tried to bring home to Albertans during her news conferences, which have become required watching.
- Alberta reports 3 more deaths, 50 new cases of COVID-19
- Modelling suggests as many as 800,000 COVID-19 infections could sweep Alberta
This week, the province released modelling projections outlining possible scenarios for what might happen over the coming weeks.
Under the scenario health officials think is most likely, with the peak of the outbreak expected in May, Alberta could see as many as 800,000 confirmed and suspected infections and from 400 to 3,100 deaths by the end of the summer.
Under what is called the "elevated scenario," the model projects that there could be as many as one million infections and between 500 and 6,600 deaths.
Another point Hinshaw has made over and over again is that models are only projections, and that containing the spread of the virus depends on the actions of everyone in its path.