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Two more COVID-19 deaths in Alberta, 138 new cases reported

Two more people in Alberta have died from COVID-19 and 138 new cases were reported on Tuesday.

'We are all mourning the normalcy we once knew'

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updated the number of cases of COVID-19 in Alberta Tuesday. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Two more people in Alberta have died from COVID-19 and 138 new cases were reported on Tuesday.

That brings the total number of deaths in the province to 48 and the total number of cases to 1,870.

Of that total, 914 people have recovered from the illness.

At her news conference on Tuesday, Alberta's chief medical officer of health said she understands that people may be tired of hearing about COVID-19 and thinking about when life will return to normal.

"This will not last forever," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said at a news conference in Edmonton. "Part of looking forward is adjusting to a level of uncertainty when it comes to planning for the future.

"Many are wondering when we'll be able to plan family gatherings, take vacations and schedule other important life events."

Next steps

The province recently changed its testing priorities and is now trying to ramp up the number of tests done each day. As of Tuesday, 82,649 tests for COVID-19 had been conducted in Alberta.

"Now that we've been able to significantly expand testing to provide more robust data, I hope to provide some more structured timelines soon to the emergency management co-ordination committee of cabinet, for them to consider next steps going forward," Hinshaw said.

"Even still, it's important to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic, we'll all be dealing with for some while."

On Monday, B.C.'s provincial health officer said mass testing was not an effective strategy to slow transmission of the illness because the false-negative rate can be as high as 30 per cent.

Hinshaw said she had not heard that statistic before, and had not seen any data to indicate Alberta's false negative rate is that high. She said she will follow up with her counterpart in B.C. and compare the data.

"We do occasionally get false negatives where someone tests negative initially and then on retest they do test positive," she said.

Everyone is grieving

After weeks of self-isolation, Hinshaw said, it's natural that people miss spending time with friends and family, and many are struggling to make ends meet given the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

"I am guessing that all Albertans want their lives back, and as soon as possible," she said.

The unprecedented pandemic has affected everyone, she said, and everyone is grieving.

"I know some Albertans are grieving the loss of loved ones, and this is the hardest grief of all. Other Albertans are grieving the loss of jobs, income or health. Some are grieving the loss of control and the close physical connection to others that we all crave.

"We are all mourning the normalcy we once knew. During these times it is a natural reaction to experience different expressions of this grief, including anger, bargaining, denial and even depression. These are all normal reactions and responses.

"We all must process the losses caused by this new situation and the changes to our everyday lives we all face."

As of Tuesday, 214 of Alberta's confirmed cases had been among residents of long-term care homes. Residents of care facilities account for 30 of the 48 deaths in the province.

Care facilities hit hard

The hardest-hit facility is the McKenzie Towne continuing care facility in Calgary, where two more deaths were reported on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths there to 21.

Four residents have died at Manoir Du Lac in McLennan, Alta., 440 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. The facility said Tuesday it has seven active cases and four residents who have recovered from the illness.

Shepherd's Care Kensington Village in Edmonton has been dealing with an outbreak since mid-March.  As of Tuesday, 16 residents at the facility had tested positive and two residents had died from COVID-19. Four staff and two AHS caseworkers had also tested positive, the facility said on its website.

The breakdown of cases by region was:

  • Calgary zone: 1,242
  • Edmonton zone: 402
  • North zone: 107
  • Central zone: 74
  • South zone: 36
  • Unknown: 9

The province announced on Tuesday it will give $3 million to Caregivers Alberta to expand its programs during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.

Funding to the non-profit organization will help expand support programs and resources for the almost one million Albertans who are caregivers for family and friends, the province said in a news release.

"Our ability to weather this pandemic in weeks and months ahead depends on how well we take care of one another and we want to make sure that caregivers across the province have the supports that they need," Health Minister Tyler Shandro said at Tuesday's news conference.

(CBC)
(CBC)

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