Seven new COVID-19 deaths in Alberta, highest daily number so far
39 people in the province have died from the illness and there are 1,500 total cases
In the deadliest day of the pandemic so far, Alberta reported seven new deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, including more deaths at a Calgary continuing care centre that has been devastated by the illness.
Four of the newly reported deaths were residents of the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference Friday. Seventeen people have now died of COVID-19 at that nursing home.
One person who died Friday was a resident at the Shepherd's Care Foundation Kensington Village in Edmonton, CEO Shawn Terlson said in a notice posted on the foundation's website.
The seven most recent deaths bring the total in the province to 39. Five of the deaths were in the Calgary zone and include two men in their 70s, a man in his 80s, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 90s.
The other two deaths were in the Edmonton zone: a man in his 60s and a man his 80s.
The total number of cases in the province is now 1,500, including 713 people who have recovered, 121 more than were listed as recovered on Thursday.
New rules for care homes
Nursing homes have been hit hard, with more than 150 cases of COVID-19 infecting staff and residents at care centres.
"We know we have a problem with cases in long-term care facilities," Hinshaw said. "We have several outbreaks and we are doing everything we can to prevent any more outbreaks and to deal with the ones that we currently have."
That fact has prompted the province to again strengthen its rules and restrictions for continuing care homes, she said.
All workers will be required to wear masks at all times when providing direct patient care or working in patient-care areas within two metres of other people, Hinshaw said.
Alberta Health Services has stockpile of personal protective equipment and shipments will be assembled this weekend and sent out Monday to all continuing-care facilities across the province, she said.
"So the requirement for masking — legally — will take effect early next week, as we know that it will take a few days to get the PPE out to those sites.
"We are making this change to protect patients from inadvertent exposure from a health-care worker who could be without symptoms but still be infectious. Continuous masking will also minimize the risk of an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic health-care worker exposing other workers to this illness."
Late next week the province will require all workers in continuing care facilities to work at only one site, to help prevent the spread of illness between facilities, Hinshaw said.
"These requirements are currently in effect at outbreak locations, but will now be required in all long-term care and supportive-living sites across the province."
Effective immediately, Alberta Health Services will also require all health-care workers who provide direct patient care or work in patient-care areas in hospitals and community settings to wear surgical or procedural masks continuously and in all areas where physical distancing is not possible.
"This applies if they are either involved in direct patient contact, or cannot maintain adequate social distance from patients or co-workers," Hinshaw said.
"Health-care workers who do not work in patient-care areas or have direct patient contact are only required to mask if social distancing cannot be maintained in the workplace, or if entry into patient-care areas is required."
The regional breakdown of cases is:
- Calgary zone: 917
- Edmonton zone: 386
- North zone: 97
- Central zone: 72
- South zone: 26
- Unknown: 2
70,080 Albertans have been tested for COVID-19.
Hinshaw said 2,100 tests were conducted over the last 24 hours, with as many as 6,000 more people scheduled to be tested over the next few days.
As of Friday, 201 cases in the province are thought to have involved community transmission.
Hinshaw's next COVID-19 update is scheduled for Monday. Statistics and situational reports will be provided online on Saturday and Sunday.
More information for Albertans is available at the government's COVID-19 portal.