No new measures as Kenney pleads with Albertans to follow health orders; vaccine clinic opening at MacIsland

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Premier Jason Kenney is pleading with Albertans to follow COVID-19 health measures after the province reported more than 800 new cases for the second day in a row. But, Kenney did not announce any new shutdown orders as COVID-19 numbers continue rising in Alberta.

He asked people to meet outdoors and stay distanced if they do meet at all. Anyone dining out should only do so with people they live with, or two close contacts if that person lives alone, he said.

“All of our leading indicators are telling us that we are now in a significant new wave of COVID-19,” he said. “How bad that wave will be is up to all of us.”

Kenney predicted Alberta could see 500 COVID-19 patients in hospital in two weeks and 1,000 patients in a month if the virus and its variants continue spreading at current rates. Growth is mostly driven by the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. Last week, only 13 per cent of Alberta’s active cases were the U.K variant. Today, it’s 33 per cent.

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“Right now in the race between vaccines and variants of COVID-19, the variants are winning,” said Kenney.

As of Wednesday, Kenney said more than 90 per cent of Alberta’s vaccine stockpile has been distributed. Less than six per cent of Albertans under 65 have been vaccinated. He blamed the federal government’s vaccine procurement strategy for much of Alberta’s COVID-19 problems, as well as on people violating current health orders to socialize.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw worried a false sense of security is settling as the “very successful vaccine rollout” continues for people who are at least 75. She countered this belief with hospitalization rates from the second wave, which had a daily average of 500 hospitalizations, including 119 in ICU care, for people under 75.

“Vaccines do offer hope and they can help prevent our hospitals from becoming swamped if we keep cases low for just a few more months,” she said. “Please make the safest choices you can this weekend in everything you do.”

Vaccine Clinic opening at MacDonald Island Park

Alberta Health Services announced Thursday a vaccination site is opening at the MacDonald Island Park curling rink on April 5. The site will have 10 vaccination stations, but that figure could double depending on vaccine availability.

Immunizations will stop being given at the Thickwood Medical Centre once the clinic opens. Anyone with a booked appointment will get a text message directing them to MacDonald Island Park.

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Drop-in appointments will not be available at first. Depending on vaccine supply, the site will be open between eight and 12 hours a day, seven days a week. AHS says in an eight-hour shift, 20 vaccination stations could get 1,285 Albertans vaccinated every day.

“Convenient and safe access to COVID-19 vaccines is key to the health and well-being of residents, and the social and economic recovery of our communities,” said Mayor Don Scott in a statement. “As a region, we are committed to doing everything we can to keep each other safe and we are pleased to partner with AHS to help in this important public health effort.”

lbeamish@postmedia.com

COVID-19 numbers for Alberta, reported on April 1:                

  • Instructions on how to book a COVID-19 vaccine and who is eligible can be found here.
  • 149,207 people have been infected with the virus. The earliest known COVID-19 case in Alberta was detected in a blood sample collected on Feb. 24. The first case was announced on March 5.
  • Of those cases, 138,560 people have recovered, or 92 per cent of all cases.
  • 875 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the active total to 8,653.
  • 292 people are in hospital, with 59 people in intensive care units. Privacy regulations means Alberta Health cannot release how many COVID-19 patients are being treated in local hospitals or health centres.
  • Four new deaths from COVID-19, totalling 1,994.
  • 15,970 people were tested for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
  • 652,490 vaccine doses have been administered in total; 103,764 people are fully immunized with both doses.

COVID-19 in Fort McMurray:            

  • 27 new active cases in the past 24 hours, bringing known active total to 164. The first case was reported in the city on March 19. 
  • Three new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing total to 1,785.
  • Alberta’s province-wide mask order remains active. 
  • Privacy regulations means Alberta Health cannot release how many COVID-19 patients are being treated in local hospitals or health centres. 
  • Three people have died from COVID-19 in Fort McMurray, with the last death reported on Dec. 24. The first death was reported Sept. 8. 

COVID-19 in rural areas and Wood Buffalo National Park:                

  • No new COVID-19 case in rural communities reported in the past 24 hours, keeping active total to four cases. Two of those cases are in Wood Buffalo National Park.
  • One new recovery in Wood Buffalo National Park in the past 24 hours, bringing rural total at 148. 
  • AHS has not confirmed which rural communities have active COVID-19 cases, only community leaders have. 
  • Alberta’s province-wide mask order remains active. 
  • Privacy regulations means Alberta Health cannot release how many COVID-19 patients are being treated in local hospitals or health centres. 
  • There have been no deaths from COVID-19 in the RMWB’s rural areas. 

COVID-19 outbreaks at Wood Buffalo’s schools:              

  • Information on school outbreaks can be found online from Alberta Health Services. No school in Wood Buffalo has been ordered to close. 
  • Outbreak: Holy Trinity Catholic High School.
  • Alert: Ecole McTavish High School.
  • An outbreak is declared when five people linked to a public site, such as a workplace, test positive for COVID-19. At continuing care centres and schools, the number is two. 
  • An outbreak is over when no new COVID-19 cases have been reported after 30 days. 

COVID-19 outbreaks at Wood Buffalo’s workplaces:                 

  • Information on workplace outbreaks can be found online from Alberta Health Services
  • Canadian Natural’s Albian site.
  • Canadian Natural’s Horizon site.
  • Children First Eagle Ridge Nest 
  • Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake site. 
  • Suncor’s base plant. 
  • Suncor’s Firebag Village. 
  • Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site. 
  • An outbreak is declared when five people linked to a public site, such as a workplace, test positive for COVID-19. At continuing care centres and schools, the number is two. 
  • An outbreak is over when no new COVID-19 cases have been reported after 30 days. 

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