Alberta decides against Step 3, Shandro cites growing COVID-19 hospitalizations


Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party government have been under increasing pressure from businesses, their supporters and even some UCP MLAs to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

In just the last seven days, the province has seen over 30 more people in hospital, with Shandro saying the current trend shows over 300 people in hospital in the next week.

As of March 21, 487,493 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Alberta, with 93,414 individuals having received the 2 doses required to be fully immunized.

Since October of past year, Alberta has received around 2.6 million rapid tests with an additional one expected by the end of April. As of Monday's update, hospitalizations sat at 280, and ICU was at 48.

Although hospitalization numbers are currently below 300, Shandro said now is not the time as numbers are rising once again after weeks of declining tallies.

Mr. Shandro said even as the province moves further into its reopening plan, the government would be monitoring COVID-19 data and could impose targeted restrictions if needed, for example if a particular activity is identified as driving infections.

"This is the safe move".

An Infant Was Born With COVID-19 Antibodies From Half-Vaccinated Mom
So far, 72% of Hoosiers aged 80 and older, and 75% of those aged 70 to 79, have scheduled or received a vaccine, Box said. He repeated encouragements to everyone in the province to book and get a vaccination as soon as they're eligible.

The next reopening stage would have included relaxed rules on worship services.

Shandro noted that other worrisome numbers have been escalating.

Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, reported 456 new cases of COVID-19 during Monday's briefing.

Of more concern is the rise in variants, which are more contagious than the original novel coronavirus and can potentially overrun a health system if left unchecked.

Almost all of the 197 new variant cases were the United Kingdom strain (B.1.1.7), apart from two more of the Brazilian (P.1) variant found in Calgary, bringing the province to a total of four P1 cases.

Health minister, Tyler Shandro, says the kits have been used successfully in long-term care, shelters, and large worksites to keep Albertans safe.

Public-health experts had been urging the government to delay reopening plans and some have said the province should lock down to prevent a third wave. Outdoor get-togethers are capped at 10 people. Two members of Mr. Kenney's caucus joined an anti-lockdown group. Opponents say the restrictions unfairly impact the financial and emotional well-being of Albertans.