EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout the pandemic, case counts have been based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing performed by provincial agencies such as Alberta Health Services, but these testing protocols have been deferred to prioritize high-priority groups and those in higher-risk environments. Alberta does not have a system for cataloging rapid home antigen tests, meaning many people with COVID-19 are not reflected in the data.
As a result, CBC News will de-emphasize case numbers in our coverage in favor of data and metrics that experts now say are more insightful — including hospitalizations and sewage monitoring.
- Health Secretary Jason Copping and Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, provided one Updated on 25.5. The next update will take place in two weeks, on June 8th.
- At the end of May 23rd 1,040 people were hospitalized with the disease, down from 1,165 people last week.
- 31 People were in intensive care, off 42 last week.
- 55 new COVID deaths were reported between May 17 and May 23. All in all 4,452 Albertans have died from the disease.
- There was 2,737 new COVID-19 cases reported out 16,053 tests. The case count includes only those who tested positive on a PCR test, which most Albertans don’t have access to.
- The average positivity rate was 17.52 percentcompared to 19.93 percent Last week.
- Hinshaw said the BA.2 wave is receding faster in smaller centers in Alberta than in Edmonton and Calgary.
- She said the first case of the BA.4 variant was identified in Alberta last week.
- Copping said Evusheld, a drug that could prevent people with compromised immune systems from getting COVID-19, will be available to eligible Albertans from May 26.
- As of May 4, the province is now allowing community providers, such as general practitioners, to prescribe Paxlovid to those eligible for COVID-19 treatment. A positive rapid test is now accepted to confirm COVID-19 infection to prescribe Paxlovid.
- The Paxlovid eligibility list now includes all Albertans 60+ – and Aborigines 50+ – with 2 doses or less of vaccine and at least one pre-existing condition. Also added are Albertans 70+ – and Native Americans 60+ – with three or fewer cans and two or more pre-existing conditions.
- Alberta data from a Dashboard created from the University of Calgary Center for Health Informatics shows the average amount of COVID-19 detected in wastewater. The data are publicly updated three times a week.
- According to Copping, the wastewater levels are in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer well past their peakbut continue to show that high levels of virus are circulating.
- The virus is shed in people’s feces before symptoms appear, so the levels in the data are most strongly associated with cases occurring six days after the samples were collected.
- A note on reading wastewater tables: Figures from different wastewater treatment plants use different testing and collection methods. For this reason comparisons between cities cannot be made directly and one should only assess the trends. For example, there is an upward trend in readings in both Edmonton and Calgary, but you can’t tell if the readings are higher in one city or the other.
The latest on restrictions:
- Almost all pandemic Public health measures have been lifted in the province from March 1, when the Alberta government launched Step 2 of its reopening plan.
- This phase will lift indoor masking, remaining school requirements, youth screening for entertainment and sports, the lifting of capacity restrictions on all major venues and entertainment venues, the lifting of restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, and mandatory work from home.
- Masks are still mandatory in high-risk environments, including Alberta Health Services operated and contracted facilities, all continuing care facilities, and community transportation services. The rule does not apply to private services such as taxis or Uber rides.
- From February 14 there is no mask requirement for children and young people aged 12 and under and no mask requirement for children and young people in schools for all ages.
- stage 1 came into force on February 16 and removed the restriction exemption program.
- Premier Jason Kenney says the province is working toward it a third stagewhich does not have a date when people will no longer need to be isolated if they have COVID-19, and COVID operational and outbreak logs will be maintained at continuous care facilities.
- Copping said the phases are all condition-based approaches, based on hospitalization trends.
- According to Alberta Health, 77.1 percent the population of the province — or 87 percent of those who are older than 12 years – have received two cans of a COVID vaccine.
- According to statistics from Alberta Health, 44.5 percent had by Albertans aged 12 and over three cans of the vaccine.
- Beginning April 12, all Albertans age 70 and older, First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Alberta age 65 and older, and all seniors in community care can receive a fourth dose of vaccine.
- Albertans aged 12 to 17 are eligible for their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if five months have passed since their second dose.
- Children aged six to eleven will have the opportunity to receive the Moderna vaccine starting April 12.
Hospitalizations by region:
At the end of the day on May 23rd it was 1,040 Albertans hospitalized with COVID.
- Calgary Zone: 411
- Edmonton Zone: 344
- middle zone: 134
- North Zone: 90
- South Zone: 61