97 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta as some services reopen

Alberta reported 97 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the lowest number of daily new cases reported since April 13.

Lowest daily new case total since April 13

Alberta reported 97 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the first time in weeks the daily new cases dropped below the triple digits. (The Canadian Press/NIAID-RML via AP)

Alberta reported 97 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the lowest number of daily cases reported in nearly three weeks. 

The number of new cases, while a limited snapshot of the past 24 hours, could be a positive sign for Alberta's plan to reopen. The Chief Medical Officer of Health says the relaunch is dependent on keeping hospitalization and infection rates low. 

The last time Alberta reported daily new cases in the double digits was April 13, when the province recorded 81 new cases for a total of 1,732. Since then, the province has routinely reported upward of 200 new cases in its daily updates, reaching a single-day high of 319 cases in its April 23 update. 

Two more people in Alberta have died from the illness in the past 24 hours, according to Saturday's provincial update. Both were women in their 90s and residents of continuing care facilities in Calgary — Millrise Place and Brentwood Care Centre. 

Of the 5,670 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province, 2,543 had recovered as of Saturday.

The number of hospitalizations remained consistent with recent updates. As of Saturday, there were 88 people with the illness in hospital, including 19 admitted to intensive care units. This week, between 82 and 90 people have been in Alberta hospitals with the illness on any given day.

The province completed 3,751 test in the past 24 hours. 

This weekend marks the first days of Alberta's tiered relaunch strategy, with an emphasis on outdoor activities. Provincial parks and some boat launches were reopened with limited services on Friday.

Golfers were permitted to hit the fairway on Saturday after the province issued a set of guidelines to course operators intended to reduce the risk of transmission.

Alberta Health Services is expected to resume some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries on Monday. Dentists and other health care services will also be permitted to reopen as long as they follow approved guidelines set by their regulatory colleges. 

The first large-scale stage of the province's relaunch plan is tentatively set for May 14, with retail stores, daycares and museums among the list of services permitted to open their doors under public health conditions.