COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta (March 15 update) 
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw, accompanied by Premier Jason Kenney, gives an update on COVID-19 in Alberta. Photo by Government of Alberta

‘It’s not time to break out the noisemakers’, Kenney says COVID-19 measures could be relaxed by summer

The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered Tuesday

The COVID-19 vaccine has been delivered.

Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday that 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived Monday night and the first batches were administered in Calgary and Edmonton.

Sahra Kaahiye, a respiratory therapist at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, and Tanya Harvey, an intensive care nurse at the Foothills Medical Centre Cell in Calgary, were the first in Alberta to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Hope is here and the end of this terrible time is finally within sight,” Kenney said, adding Moderna vaccine is coming in the next week or so.

Kenney added he believes there is a chance Alberta will see relaxed COVID-19 health measures by the summer.

“It’s not time to break out the noisemakers and the party hats right now,” he added.

His remarks Tuesday came as the province reported 1,341 new cases of COVID-19.

The province has 11 new deaths due to the virus and so far, 744 people have died. There are 742 people in hospital, including 137 in the ICU.

“These numbers continue to be alarming, as I have said before, this pandemic has not stopped all of the other health issues that Albertans face every day,” said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Alberta now has 20,649 active cases and the province completed more than 16,000 COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours. Alberta’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is 8.2 per cent.

Red Deer sits at 409 active COVID-19 cases and Red Deer County sits at 105 active.

Sylvan Lake has 46 active and Olds has 28 active. Lacombe has 29 active and Lacombe County has 62. Mountain View County has 31 active cases, Kneehill County has 22 and Clearwater County sits at 64.

Camrose has 70 active cases and Camrose County has 32. Ponoka County, The County of Wetaskiwin and Wetaskiwin have 287 cases combined.

The province also announced COVID-19 care teams, which will help slow the spread in communities hard hit by the pandemic. Nine of the teams are in Edmonton, two are in Calgary. The teams will provide outreach and supports specific to those communities.

Kenney also announced 16 new self-isolation hotel rooms, most of which are in Calgary and Edmonton. Kenney also said Red Deer is on the list for a self-isolation hotel.

He said that as part of the Community Care Campaign, individuals will be eligible for a temporary emergency payment of $625 once they have completed their isolation at a designated isolation hotel.

“If you cannot safely self-isolate at home, we are here with real help. Free accommodation, food, transportation and financial support is available,” Kenney said.

Hinshaw added that there are alerts or outbreaks in 456 schools or about 19 per cent of all schools in the province. These schools have a combined total of 1,943 cases. That includes 129 schools on the watch list.