Province surpasses 100,000 cases in final pandemic update of 2020
Albertans reminded to keep New Year's celebrations virtual, within household
As 2020 ends, Alberta hit yet another grim milestone in the pandemic that turned life in the province upside down in March.
More than 100,000 Albertans have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus at some point during the past 10 months, equivalent to about one in every 44 Albertans.
Alberta passed the six-figure threshold Wednesday, when the province reported an additional 1,287 COVID-19 cases.
It's the last full update Alberta will provide on COVID-19 in 2020, as officials are taking a break in reporting over New Year's.
Beginning Thursday and continuing through the weekend, the province will give “modified” updates on the pandemic through chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw's Twitter account.
Those updates will include only estimates of how many new cases have been detected and will not include specifics on such metrics as deaths or admissions to hospitals and intensive-care units. Hinshaw will next give a live update on Monday.
On Twitter on Wednesday, the top doctor urged Albertans to ring in the new year safely, only celebrating with those in your household or virtually.
“2020 is almost behind us and hope is on the horizon, but our battle with COVID-19 is far from over,” Hinshaw tweeted.
“The more we all follow public health guidance now, the more our case numbers and hospitalizations will go down in the weeks to come.”
Wednesday's new cases came from 14,807 tests, representing an 8.7 per cent positivity rate.
After a sustained decline in positivity rates beginning at the start of December, rates have ticked back up in recent days. The past three days represent the three highest positivity rates logged in Alberta since Dec. 18. The 1,287 new cases Wednesday is the highest single-day count in Alberta in more than a week.
Also Wednesday, Alberta reported another 18 deaths from COVID-19. Of those, six were recorded in the Alberta Health Services Calgary zone, four of which were linked to outbreaks at continuing-care centres operated by Agecare.
In December alone, 466 Albertans have died of COVID-19 — nearly half of the province's toll of 1,046 deaths from the virus. It's the province's deadliest month of the pandemic to date.
As well, hospitalization rates in Alberta continued to rise Wednesday, with 921 now admitted for care, an increase of 31 from Tuesday. Of those patients, 152 are in ICUS, a decrease of one.
Alberta also now has 14,555 active cases of the coronavirus, a decline from Tuesday and the province's lowest total in more than a month.
Elsewhere Wednesday, Alberta administered the first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care residents.
In a tweet, Premier Jason Kenney said a Medicine Hat woman was the first recipient of the Moderna vaccine. Long-term care residents in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and St. Paul also received the first dose of the vaccine Wednesday.
Alberta has received 16,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is easier to distribute than the Pfizer-biontech version, which requires deep freezing. The newly obtained vaccine allowed on-site administration of shots at care facilities.
Through Tuesday, health-care workers in Alberta have administered 8,544 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. No adverse effects have been reported following any immunizations.
The province is lagging behind its previously stated goal of completing 29,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccination by the end of 2020. The province is about 30 per cent of the way to that number.
Inoculations were put on pause Christmas Day but will be administered New Year's Day.