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187 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths in Alberta
EDMONTON -- Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health announced two additional deaths and 187 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
It pushes the total number of infections in the province to 3,095 and the number of deaths to 61.
Of those patients infected, 1,273 have recovered, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
Of the two new deaths, one was a resident at the JB Wood Continuing Care facility in High Prairie.
There have been 367 cases in care homes across the province, as outbreaks have been confirmed at 29 different facilities.
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Some of the higher-profile outbreaks have occurred at the Cargill meat processing plant in High River, where 401 people have now contracted COVID-19, JBS Foods in Brooks, where 77 cases have been detected, and the Kearl Lake work camp north of Fort McMurray.
Hinshaw said there are 20 confirmed cases at the work camp and employees there will be swabbed for COVID-19 tests this week as an added measure.
Because workers have since travelled to other provinces, Alberta is working with other governments to trace where cases may have spread.
Out of precaution, all workers who were at the camp prior to April 16, when the outbreak was confirmed, are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days after they left.
"This is important because these workers may have been exposed without being aware, and they could be incubating. They must be watching for signs of illness," including fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat, she said.
Tuesday marked the first day the Alberta government will post the location and name of facilities where outbreaks have occurred.
While only acute and continuing care facilities will be released Tuesday, the eventual plan is to provide information for outbreaks in other settings, Hinshaw said.
To date, 104,730 people have been tested, according to provincial data.
Out of the more than 3,000 cases, 156 people have been hospitalized and 44 have been admitted to the ICU.
'VICTIM OF OUR OWN SUCCESS'
Hinshaw said she's been hearing more and more discussion from Albertans wanting to reopen society and with it, the economy, to get back to a normal routine.
While Alberta is still far below its projected model of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, she said now is not the time to get complacent.
"The challenge we are facing is that in some ways we're a victim of our own success…the virus is still with us and we need to continue to take it very seriously."
Hinshaw compared it to a tidal wave that could've swept through the province, leaving a wide swath of destruction.
While Albertans buffered the impact of that tidal wave through actions like physical distancing, frequent hand-washing and more, "the potential force of that tidal wave is still there."
The top doctor was later asked about people who are preparing to stage protests in Calgary against physical distancing rules, mirroring some groups in the U.S. that have taken to streets in large groups to call for an end to the shutdown.
"I think you only have to talk to the family and friends of the people who've died from COVID-19 in this province, or those who were in the ICU or hospital, to know that this can be a very serious disease in some people," she said.
"You only have to look at places like Italy and New York to see what happens when the virus is not taken seriously and when measures are not put in place to have appropriate distancing, and we do not want that to happen in Alberta."
She reminded everyone that modelling data is just an estimate based on assumptions that everyone infected would pass on the virus to one or two other people.
"What we've seen in reality is a function of the behaviour of Albertans pulling together, staying distant from each other," she said.
But on the flip side, there have been cases that have spread much wider, reinforcing the need to keep up preventative measures, Hinshaw said.
PROPER MASK USE
Hinshaw acknowledged there has been a flood of information about COVID-19 prevention since the first cases emerged from Wuhan, China.
She said one constant question she's asked is about where, when and how to use masks.
To use them properly, she said it's important to understand how coronavirus spreads: through droplets produced by not just coughing and sneezing, but talking, laughing and singing, or touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth.
"People infected with this virus can spread it in the day or two before symptoms start," she said. "This is where masks come in. If people consistently wear masks, this reduces the change comeone infectd but not yet sick would spraed the virus."
She said the masks must be worn properly, covering the nose and mouth, and should be put on and removed with clean hands. Any used masks should be either disposed of promptly, or stored safely in a bag and then washed. You should always immediately wash your hands after touching a mask, she said.
Hinshaw said people should continue to stay two metres away from others due to the droplets, which don't stay in the air for long except in certain circumstances.
She also reiterated that everyone should clean and disinfect any frequently touched surfaces and was their hands constantly.