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One more COVID-19 death in Alberta, 81 new cases –

Alberta recorded one more death to COVID-19 and 81 new cases, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Friday.

So far, 115 Albertans have died from the disease, with the province reporting 6,098 total cases as of Friday.

Of those cases, the number of people listed as recovered is 4,020, well above the 1,963 active cases.

The province reported its first case at a jail or prison facility Friday. The inmate at the Calgary Remand Centre was admitted without symptoms, but became ill the next evening.

The individual was admitted to the quarantine unit following the correct procedure, Hinshaw said.

Hospitalization and intensive care admissions are key measures of Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, Hinshaw said.

Both are seeing declines, with 80 people currently in hospital and 17 of those in intensive care units, she said.

“It is encouraging to see these numbers coming down from last week because it means fewer people are experiencing severe outcomes from this virus. It also means our health-care system has the capacity to handle potential additional COVID-19 cases if needed.”

A regional breakdown of cases as of Friday shows the impact of COVID-19 in different parts of the province:

  • Calgary zone: 4,109
  • South zone: 1,133
  • Edmonton zone: 508
  • North zone: 227
  • Central zone: 97
  • Unknown: 24

So far 166,327 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Alberta, including 3,332 tests in the last 24 hours.

Advice for Mother’s Day

Hinshaw noted many people will be celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend.

“I know this year will feel a little different, but I hope you can find time and ability to connect with your loved ones, even if it is in a different way,” she said.

“For those planning to celebrate the occasion by visiting a family member in a continuing care facility, please remember the rules around masks, physical distancing and the need to call ahead.”

She warned Mother’s Day is difficult for those who have lost a mother or for mothers who have lost a child.

“These feelings may be even more overwhelming during this time of isolation. Continue to check in with your loved ones about how you can support them,” she said.

‘Responsible’ travel to cabins OK

Hinshaw also addressed Albertans who hope to visit their cabins during the summer.

“Responsible travel to these locations within the province is permissible, with consideration to local community guidelines,” she said.

“I encourage any person who is considering travelling within the province to respect the health and safety of small communities and plan their trip with minimal stops where possible.

“Pack your own food and stop only for gas if necessary. As always, take all the necessary precautions to protect your health and the health of those around you.”

She warned, however, against traveling to summer homes outside the province.

For those who do make it to the beach this summer, Hinshaw wants them to be aware that water testing at Alberta lakes will be delayed as public health staff and testing laboratories are busy monitoring and testing for COVID-19.

“As lab capacity increases and lab staff return to work as part of our province’s relaunch plan, we will reassess our water sampling program to see if some testing can resume later this summer,” she said.

“In the meantime, Albertans should use lakes and beaches at their own risk and take precautions if they choose to enter water bodies. This includes checking for visible signs of blue-green algae blooms and following advice that may be posted at beach sites.”

Contact tracing key to successful relaunch

No matter where Albertans elect to spend time this summer, Hinshaw urged them to download the contact-tracing app ABTraceTogether and keep it open on the phone when in public.

“I cannot overstate how important contact tracing will become as we open up our economy and people begin moving around more,” she said.

So far 140,000 people have downloaded the mobile app. It uses Bluetooth technology to help contact tracers track cases and warn people who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

“Contact tracers will need the help of the app to track new cases in the coming weeks and months,” Hinshaw said.

“If we cannot rely on that information, contact tracing will take longer, the virus may spread further and we may have to reconsider pulling back on our relaunch steps and putting restrictions back in place if the virus spreads at a high rate.”

Friday’s news conference was the final one of the week. No news conferences are scheduled for Saturday or Sunday. Weekend updates will be provided through online reports and news releases.

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