Alberta to cut back on reporting of COVID-19 numbers to once a week
Total number of Alberta deaths due to COVID-19 drops to 4,013
Alberta will now update COVID-19 numbers only once a week as the province continues to lift health measures, Health Minister Jason Copping said at news conference Wednesday.
"Throughout the pandemic, Alberta has been a leader in reporting, providing more comprehensive data than other provinces and territories," Copping said.
"We are at a point where trends over longer periods of time are more relevant than day-to-day fluctuations.
"I want to be clear: Alberta Health, including Dr. [Deena] Hinshaw and her team, will continue to closely monitor the data here, as well as emerging evidence from other jurisdictions — and they'll bring forward any policy recommendations if and when needed in the future."
Until now, Alberta has updated COVID-19 numbers every weekday.
"Reducing the frequency of reporting is what makes the most sense in our current situation," Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said at the news conference.
Hinshaw said she will continue to brief Albertans on COVID-19 weekly.
"We will continue to post data to Alberta.ca each week and a summary will be shared via my Twitter account," she said. "I will also provide any other relevant updates in a weekly media availability."
Albertans may find the change in reporting challenging, especially when they have grown accustomed to seeing numbers daily, she said.
"I know for many, this has been a way to help make sense of a seemingly surreal situation. Fortunately, we are in a different place now."
Hinshaw reported four new deaths related to COVID-19 Wednesday, but removed 16 cases from the total number as the disease was found not to be the cause.
That reduces the number of people who died from COVID in the province to 4,013, Hinshaw told the news conference.
As of Wednesday there were 989 people in hospital with COVID, including 70 in intensive care. A week ago there were 1,122 people in hospital, including 78 in ICU.
Alberta labs completed 3,200 PCR tests Wednesday with a positivity rate around 18 per cent, Hinshaw said.
The province reported 593 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but that number only includes cases confirmed by a PCR test. Access to the testing remains constrained.
There are now 6,449 known active cases in the province.
The province said about 80.9 per cent of Albertans have received at least a first dose of a COVID vaccine, and 76.2 per cent have received second doses. About 35.8 per cent of Albertans have had a third dose of vaccine.
Nearly all pandemic public health measures were lifted as of March 1 as Alberta entered Step 2 of its reopening plan.
Premier Jason Kenney has said the province is working toward a third step where people with COVID-19 would no longer be required to isolate, and COVID operational and outbreak protocols will be lifted in continuing care facilities.