Alberta reports 1,519 new COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths
Some who died were double-vaccinated, Dr. Deena Hinshaw says
Alberta reported 29 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and 1,519 new cases of the disease, the province's chief medical officer of health reported Tuesday.
"Some of these individuals were double vaccinated and had pre-existing health conditions that compromised their immune systems but most were not vaccinated at all," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said of the most recent deaths.
"These numbers could have been very different and that makes these losses even harder for those who are left behind. Our actions every day are literally a matter of life and death and should be treated as such."
There are now 996 people in hospital, including 222 in intensive care, Hinshaw told a news conference.
That is the highest number of ICU patients since the pandemic began.
Hinshaw said 13,600 tests were performed with a positivity rate of 11.1 per cent. Another 2,011 cases of variants of concern have been identified, she said.
New Health Minister Jason Copping, sworn in Tuesday in a cabinet portfolio swap with Tyler Shandro, told the news conference he will focus on permanently increasing baseline hospital capacity, educating vaccine-hesitant Albertans to boost vaccination numbers, and helping the health system better prepare for future waves of COVID-19.
Premier Jason Kenney told the news conference that Shandro had offered to resign his portfolio.
Kenney said there is still "serious pressure" on the province's health-care system.
Across the province, intensive-care unit capacity is at 87 per cent. But without the recent addition of "surge spaces" in hospitals, the provincial ICU capacity would be at 169 per cent of the normal baseline, he said.
Emergency triage protocols will be triggered when Alberta's surge capacity hits 90 per cent.
Here is how COVID-19 cases break down across the province's health zones:
- Edmonton zone: 5,690
- Calgary zone: 5,487
- North zone: 3,877
- Central zone: 3,666
- South zone: 2,170
- Unknown: 27
On Tuesday, Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver announced on Twitter that the province has formally asked Ottawa for help in managing the emergency. The federal government will be asked to assist with patient transfers and added staff, McIver wrote.
Hinshaw said Tuesday the province is expanding eligibility for third doses of vaccine against COVID-19 to more immunocompromised Albertans, aligning with recent recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
People with advanced HIV infection and immunodeficiency syndromes are among those now able to get an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine.