Check against delivery.
Thank you, Tom and good afternoon everyone.
Before I provide today’s numbers, I would like to provide an update on our contact tracing system.
Throughout the fall and early winter, AHS has been working hard to expand our contact tracing capacity.
We are now able to reach out within 24 hours to all high-priority cases of COVID-19, including those involving school-aged children, health care workers, long-term care workers, and those who are involved in critical response.
We continue to prioritize contact tracing for other cases involving minors, for those living or working in continuing care or other congregate facilities.
With more contact tracers and fewer cases, we are reducing the number of cases with unknown exposures.
Currently, only about 47% of our active cases have an unknown source.
This is down from about 80% on December 10th to 15th.
It’s important to note that investigations into recent cases are still underway, and that identifying a source of exposure is complex.
Even with a fully functioning system, there are always a portion of cases – usually around 30% – where the source of exposure cannot be identified.
We are making progress, and we will continue to build our capacity.
Turning to today’s numbers…
Over the last 24 hours, we have identified 652 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and completed about 9,300 tests.
That puts our current positivity rate at about 6.8%.
Schools have resumed in-person classes.
Right now, there is currently 1 school on alert, with a single case.
There are currently 819 people in hospital, including 132 who have been admitted to the ICU.
Sadly, 38 new deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours.
We must always remember that these figures are not just numbers, but lives.
Every death involved someone who loved and was loved by many.
My thoughts go to everyone who is mourning the loss of a loved one from any cause.
Yesterday, we expanded immunization to include paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
This comes after AHS started offering immunizations to health care workers in all COVID-19 units, medical and surgical units and operating rooms last week.
I want to thank all health care workers for their work, and for signing up as soon as possible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
You have done remarkable work for many months, serving on the frontlines, often putting your own health and well-being at risk.
Being immunized will help protect patients and slow the spread of COVID-19.
And importantly, it will help protect you, and you are a vital part of the team.
I also want to thank Albertans for being patient as we are rolling out the vaccine.
We are rolling out vaccine as quickly as possible, and every day seeing more and more Albertans immunized.
As we get a clearer picture on the number of vaccines available, we will be able to make decisions on Phase 2 in the coming weeks.
I know that a great many groups would benefit from this vaccine, and we will continue expanding our approach as more vaccines arrive.
In the meantime, we must all continue to make safe choices and follow public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Thank you and I am happy to answer your questions.