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COVID-19 in Alberta: 500+ new cases for 3rd straight day as province delays masking, testing changes

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Edmonton -

Alberta added 500 new cases of COVID-19 for the third consecutive day and for the first time in nearly three months on Friday with 582 new infections.

The province reported 152 COVID-19 patients in hospital on Friday, down one from Thursday's adjusted total of 153. Hospitalizations are up 65 per cent since the start of the month.

There are 37 Albertans receiving coronavirus care in ICUs, up one from Wednesday. Thrirty-seven is the highest ICU patient count since June 27.

The province has had over 100 COVID-19 patients in hospital every day since Aug. 3 and more than 20 patients in ICU since the start of the month.

Among eligible Albertans, 76.7 per cent have now received a first dose of vaccine and 67.5 per cent have had two doses.

The province reported a 6.17 per cent test positivity rate on about 9,300 tests. 

Active cases are now at 4,438, their highest mark since the first week of June.

Earlier Friday, the province announced it was delaying a series of policy changes around testing, masking and isolation for six weeks.

These policies were slated to end on Monday but will now remain in effect until Sept. 27: 

  • Mandatory masking orders in publicly accessible transit, taxis and ride-shares
  • Mandatory isolation for 10 days for those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result
  • Testing at assessment centres for any symptomatic individual

In justifying the reversal, Dr. Deena Hinshaw cited Alberta's rising hospitalization and ICU counts as well as evidence from the United States where the Delta variant has sparked a rise in hospitalizations, including in younger children who had been less affected in prior waves. 

"It is important to take some additional time to monitor the situation," she said. 

The province isn't walking back all of the changes.

Contact tracing of close contacts of positive cases is not being reinstated.

And, those close contacts also remain recommended, but not required, to quarantine. 

Asymptomatic testing remains no longer recommended.

The next data update is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

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