Alberta hit the highest one-day COVID-19 case total in more than a month Thursday.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, announced in the provincial update there were 120 new cases in the past 24 hours. It was the first time since May 2 that the province had more than 100 cases.
She also announced two additional deaths, bringing the total to 165.
Alberta now has 807 active cases, with 8,142 recovered. The province completed more than 8,000 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours.
“I absolutely am concerned about our recent numbers and the increase in new cases, particularly concerned about the number of cases where we don’t know the source,” Hinshaw said.
“It’s really important for all of us to remember even as we have eased some of the restrictions we’ve previously had in place, COVID-19 is not over and we are working closely with Alberta Health Services to make sure all support is available for contract tracing and outbreak management.”
Effective Friday, the province is permitting indoor exhibits and tradeshows, as well as outdoor vocal concerts and wind instrument performances, as well as outdoor hot tubs and whirlpools.
“We are making these changes because the evidence shows that these particular activities are not adding significant levels of risk,” Hinshaw said.
With respect to the latest measures, Hinshaw still cautioned citizens to be conscious of staying two metres apart.
In the central zone, there are now 75 active COVID-19 cases, up from 61 on Wednesday.
Red Deer remains at eight cases, with 37 recoveries. Red Deer County, Mountain View County and the County of Paintearth all have three active cases.
The County of Stettler has 12 active cases, while Ponoka County has seven active cases and Lacombe County has five active cases.
Kneehill County also has five active cases. Camrose County has four and the Town of Drumheller has six. The City of Camrose has two active. The city and county of Wetaskiwin, Olds and Sylvan Lake all have no active cases.
“I am very concerned about reports of people not following physical distancing, for example, on beaches, as we saw this last weekend. I’m concerned about people who are feeling public health measures are no longer important,” Hinshaw said.
“I think we all need to work together, because ultimately, our success in the future is in all of our hands. No one person can solve this by themselves.”
Hinshaw noted the numbers reflect what happened between one and two weeks ago, and that will continue to be the case moving forward.
She said the provincial strategy has not changed with respect to managing the virus. The province will continue to study the epidemiology of COVID-19, as well as manage outbreaks and do contract tracing to determine where cases are concentrated.
“We always knew we would have a slight increase in cases as we reopened the economy. It’s not just about opening the economy, it’s about realizing that people need multiple supports for overall health… this move to reopen restrictions is about the whole health of the population, not just the economy,” she said.
“We can manage a sustainable number of cases going forward, as long as we have the ability to do contract tracing and control outbreaks. This is something we’ve seen in other jurisdictions, who have been able to manage spread without going back into significant restrictions… it takes effort on the part of all Albertans.”
In addition to the numbers, the province also announced that they were relaxing guidelines at continuing care facilities. As of July 23, they will have safe access to those facilities. Previously, in restricted access, only one designated family member could visit residents in continuing care facilities.
As of Friday, 119 of 165 deaths in the province have been in continuing care facilities.