There was a handful of good news on the fight against COVID-19 during the near-daily provincial press conference on Thursday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said people should pat themselves on the back for an ongoing job well done.
“We talked yesterday about our models, and we also talked about the fact that our actual numbers are lower currently than our model would predict. That is thanks to you: you are saving lives,” she stated.
As a doctor, she continued, she is very aware of how difficult it can be for many people to keep up the stringent physical distancing measures she has prescribed.
“I assure you that I am watching our numbers closely and working with many others to look forward to the time when we can start lifting some of these measures and making this so-called medicine more palatable. In the meantime, I again say thank you for being willing to work with me and all other Albertans to keep our communities safe.”
Twenty-eight new cases have been identified since yesterday, bringing the provincial total to 1,451, and nearly 600 people have recovered in total. The province has also completed 1,333 COVID tests over the last 24 hours.
“We have also had an increase in people accessing our assessment centers since we expanded the testing criteria yesterday, so I anticipate that our testing numbers will increase over the coming days.”
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There were three additional deaths reported since Wednesday, including two people from the Calgary zone and one from the Edmonton zone. One of the Calgary deaths was linked to an outbreak at a continuing care facility.
Dr. Hinshaw said this further highlights the great importance of reducing contact between people in order to protect the vulnerable from being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
As the province heads into a major holiday weekend, she expressed her hope that the populace can find its resilience through creative means of connecting with their family and larger communities through virtual meetings, window wavings, or otherwise.
“We just need to do it in different ways.”
Before Dr. Hinshaw provided her update, Health Minister Tyler Shandro took the podium to announce more good news: the donation of a temporary structure that will add up to 6,000 sq.ft. to Calgary’s Peter Lougheed Centre. The gift, donated by Sprung Structures of Aldersyde, is valued at $265,000 and is bolstered by a $3-million boost from the provincial government to Alberta Health Services to operate the facility.
“This donation will greatly assist AHS with our planning and increase our capacity as we address the COVID-19 pandemic. This new space will provide more options for treatment beyond the scope of our existing facilities as our teams continue to care for Albertans and battle this pandemic,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services, in a prepared statement offered by the province.
The structure will create approximately 100 additional care spaces for Calgary-area patients. As of April 8, there have been 835 cases of COVID-19 identified in the Calgary zone, which represents 61 per cent of all the cases in Alberta.
AHS is working on other measures to increase the number of acute care beds in the Calgary zone and throughout the province in response to a surge of demand caused by COVID-19. These measures include postponement of all elective surgeries and procedures, and identifying non-clinical spaces in AHS facilities that can be adapted for patient care.
In all, AHS is ensuring more than 3,000 acute care and intensive care spaces are available for patients with COVID-19.