ALBERTA— The province of Alberta reported its highest single-day number of COVID-related deaths to date on Tuesday (Jan. 12).
During the provincial COVID-19 update Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported the COVID-related deaths of 38 people. To date, 1,345 Albertans have died.
The Town of Cochrane saw a decline in reported COVID-19 cases dropping to 49 active cases. To date, 291 cases have been reported in the Town— 241 people have recovered and one person has died.
In Alberta, 652 new COVID-19 cases have been identified after the completion of 9,300 tests.
The positivity rate of the province sits at 6.8 per cent.
There are 819 people hospitalized, including 132 in intensive care.
The reported 38 deaths serve to illustrate the importance of ensuring Alberta's most vulnerable residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine promptly, Hinshaw said.
“It is for that reason, we want to make sure that every Albertan who is at risk gets the vaccine as soon as possible,” Hinshaw said.
The province has changed the distribution of the vaccine in Alberta to ensure everyone at high risk will receive their first dose as soon as possible, she said.
A single dose of the vaccine appears to provide 90 per cent protection, Hinshaw said, but it is unclear how long the protection will last until the second dose is delivered. Based on the most recent studies, protection appears to last up to 42 days.
“We felt that the responsible thing to do to prevent as many deaths as possible was to be able to provide that first dose to as many people as possible while still planning for that second dose,” Hinshaw said.
Those who receive the vaccine will receive the second dose at three to four-week intervals at continuing care facilities to ensure they have as much protection as possible.
The province is rolling out of the vaccine as quickly as possible, she said, and the decision on Phase Two expansion is expected in the coming weeks. The roll out will depend on the availability of vaccines in the province.
She noted the provincial lab is processing all tests and there is no clear reason why testing numbers are down.
Hinshaw encouraged anyone with COVID symptoms to get tested because it is critical to track active cases to understand the spread of the virus.
The provincial positivity rate remains an important tool in understanding COVID-19 trends in the province, she said, adding it is positive to see the number of cases trending downward.
“We need to have as many people as are eligible to go to testing so we can continue to monitor,” Hinshaw said.
Based on the current data available it appears the vast majority of Albertans followed health measures over the holidays and stayed home, Hinshaw said. As of now, Alberta seems to have avoided an accelerated virus spread seen in other provinces and countries.
She noted it has been just under two weeks since New Year's Eve, and it is too early to tell if any celebrations will impact COVID-19 numbers in the province.
“Albertans have done well and we should be proud of that,” Hinshaw said. “Most Albertans did not contribute to further spread over the holidays.”
There are currently 13,220 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.