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  • Update 159: COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta (Dec. 15, 5:15 p.m.)

    The first Albertans have received the COVID-19 vaccine. We all must continue to work to bend the curve and protect our health-care system.

    Latest updates

    • Over the last 24 hours, 1,341 new cases were identified.
    • There are 742 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 137 in intensive care.
    • There are 20,649 active cases in the province.
    • To date, 61,934 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.
    • There was an increase of 16,353 tests (2,544,564 total) for a total of 1,581,863 people tested.
    • The testing positivity rate is 8.2 per cent.
    • In the last 24 hours, there were 11 additional COVID-related deaths reported: one on Nov. 28, four on Dec. 11, two on Dec. 12, one on Dec. 13, and three on Dec. 14.
    • The total number of COVID-19 related deaths is now 744.
    • All zones across the province have cases:
      • Calgary Zone: 7,331 active cases and 25,097 recovered
      • South Zone: 553 active cases and 3,989 recovered
      • Edmonton Zone: 9,946 active cases and 25,288 recovered
      • North Zone: 1,250 active cases and 4,232 recovered
      • Central Zone: 1,496 active cases and 3,189 recovered
      • 73 active cases and 139 recovered cases in zones to be confirmed
      • Additional information, including case totals, is online.
    • R values from Dec. 7-13 (confidence interval):
      • Alberta (provincewide) – 0.98 (0.96-1.00)
      • Edmonton Zone – 1.00 (0.98-1.03)
      • Calgary Zone – 0.92 (0.90-0.95)
      • Rest of Alberta – 1.01 (0.98-1.06)
    • Currently, 456 schools, about 19 per cent, are on alert or have outbreaks, with 1,943 cases in total.
      • Of those, 162 schools are on alert, with 270 total cases.
      • Outbreaks are declared in 294 schools, including 129 on watch, with a total of 1,673 cases.
      • So far, in-school transmission has likely occurred in 349 schools. Of these, 179 have had only one new case result.
      • Based on data available to date, 324 schools have been removed from the alert list.
      • An online map lists schools with two or more confirmed cases, updated every school day.
    • There are 967 active and 3,575 recovered cases at long-term care facilities and supportive/home living sites.
    • To date, 476 of the 744 reported deaths (64 per cent) have been in long-term care facilities or supportive/home living sites.
    • Alberta is reporting case numbers and information daily, including on weekends and holidays.

    Vaccine distribution

    • Health-care workers in Edmonton and Calgary have now become the first Albertans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Alberta will receive 25,350 doses of Pfizer vaccine during the week of Dec. 21, in addition to 3,900 doses that arrived on Dec. 14.
    • The Pfizer vaccine must be administered at its delivery site and is being offered to respiratory therapists, intensive care unit physicians and staff, and eligible long-term care and designated supportive living facility workers.
    • As more shipments arrive in early January, immunization will focus on Phase 1 priority populations and will include residents of long-term care and designated supportive living facilities, followed by seniors aged 75 and over, and First Nations on reserve, Inuit and on-settlement Metis individuals aged 65 and over.

    Expanding outreach supports

    • Alberta is launching a comprehensive outreach program to reach communities with high levels of COVID-19 spread in Edmonton and Calgary.
    • COVID-19 Care Teams will be providing information about how to access supports people need to keep themselves and their families safe.
    • People in these areas who test positive for COVID-19 will be eligible for a free-of-charge hotel room stay of 14 days, complete with culturally appropriate food and temporary financial aid in the amount of $625 when they have completed their self-isolation.

    Provincewide restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19

    • In response to increasing case numbers, enhanced public measures prohibiting social gatherings, requiring masking and restricting businesses and services are in effect.
    • These mandatory restrictions apply provincewide and will be in place for at least four weeks.
    • All existing guidance and legal orders remain in place.
    • Alberta Health, AHS and local municipalities continue to closely monitor the spread across the province.

    Enforcement of public health measures

    • The government has granted certain Alberta peace officers and community peace officers temporary authority to enforce public health orders.
    • Expanding these authorities increases the number of officers able to levy fines by about 700.
    • Not following mandatory restrictions will result in fines of $1,000 per ticketed offence and up to $100,000 through the courts.

    Albertans downloading tracer app

    • All Albertans are encouraged to download the secure ABTraceTogether app, which is integrated with provincial contact tracing. The federal app is not a contact tracing app.
    • Secure contact tracing is an effective tool to stop the spread by notifying people who were exposed to a confirmed case so they can isolate and be tested.
    • Early issues have been fixed so the app can run in the background of all mobile devices.
    • As of Dec. 14, 284,396 Albertans were using the ABTraceTogether app, 66 per cent on iOS and 34 per cent on Android. On average, 12 new users were registering every hour.
    • Secure contact tracing is a cornerstone of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy.

    Symptoms for children and adults

    • Adults over age 18 should stay home and get tested if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Parents should refer to the daily screening checklist for guidance and instructions for children under 18.

    Influenza immunization

    • Everyone, especially seniors and those at risk, is encouraged to get immunized against influenza.
    • As of Dec. 5, 1,365,073 Albertans have received their flu shot. That means almost 31 per cent of Albertans are immunized against influenza so far this year.
    • By appointment, doctors’ offices and participating pharmacies will immunize ages five and up.
    • By appointment, public health clinics will immunize ages under five, their household members; people with no provincial health number; and where they are the only provider.

    MyHealth Records quick access

    • Parents and guardians can access the COVID-19 test results for children under the age of 18 through MyHealth Records (MHR) as soon as they are ready.
    • As of Dec. 10, 473,873 Albertans have MHR accounts.

    Access to justice

    Alberta’s Recovery Plan

    • Alberta’s Recovery Plan will create jobs, economic diversification and a strong economic future.

    Addiction and mental health supports

    • Confidential supports are available. The Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642 and the Addiction Help Line at 1-866-332-2322 operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Resources are also available online.
    • The Kids Help Phone is available 24-7 and offers professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people by texting CONNECT to 686868.
    • Online resources provide advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

    Family violence prevention

    • A 24-hour Family Violence Information Line at 310-1818 provides anonymous help in more than 170 languages.
    • Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
    • People fleeing family violence can call local police or the nearest RCMP detachment to apply for an Emergency Protection Order, or follow the steps in the Emergency Protection Orders Telephone Applications (COVID-19).
    • Information sheets and other resources on family violence prevention are at alberta.ca/COVID19.

    Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

    Quick facts

    • Legally, all Albertans must physically distance and isolate when sick or with symptoms.
    • Good hygiene is your best protection: wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into an elbow or sleeve, and dispose of tissues appropriately.
    • Please share acts of kindness during this difficult time at #AlbertaCares.
    • Alberta Connects Contact Centre (310-4455) is open Monday to Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.