Alberta government reported 103 new COVID-19 cases Thursday.
In her twice-weekly update, Alberta’s Chief Medical of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced there are now 1,084 active cases in the province, with 43 people in hospital and 12 in the ICU.
She also said there was one additional death, bringing the provincial total to 228. The death was not in central zone.
In total, 11,292 people across Alberta have recovered from the virus and 855,968 COVID-19 tests have been completed.
In the Central zone, there were 33 active cases Thursday, down from 40 on Wednesday.
In the local zone, three people were in hospital. So far, 525 people have recovered in the region.
The City of Red Deer had nine active cases, while Red Deer County had one. Lacombe County had five active cases.
Kneehill County, Starland County and the City of Camrose all have one active case.
Mountain View County had two active, while County of Stettler had three.
Olds, Sylvan Lake, Lacombe, the County of Wetaskiwin and Wetaskiwin had no active cases.
Hinshaw also addressed students returning to school in two weeks’ time and why it is necessary for mental health and wellness of families and the province as a whole.
She said the government’s return to school policy was based on all the available evidence, which expressed two important points. If children do contract COVID-19, they are more likely to be mildly sick, fewer are hospitalized and childhood infections do not seem to drive community transmission. She cited countries like Sweden, where elementary schools stayed open and Finland, where they did close schools.
She also noted that young children seem less likely to infect others.
“We must look at the overall health of our population and everything that contributes to heath. We cannot simply focus on COVID-19 alone, as there are other risks that must be factored in. We know a great deal more about the virus than we knew six months ago when we were dealing with our first case,” she said.
“We also know very clearly, that measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID came with their own risks to health and wellness. We must learn how to live with this virus and how to find the right balance between preventing uncontrolled COVID spread and preventing the harms that come from shutting down essential parts of our society.”
One of the main predictors of successful school reopening is the level of community spread outside the school. If a community has a high community transmission rate, they are more likely to experience higher case rates in schools. Hinshaw noted that in places like Georgia, where school outbreaks have been identified, they have a much higher daily case rate than Alberta.
Thursday the government also posted additional detailed guidance on how they will respond to any students or staff that have symptoms in school or what protocols will be followed if a COVID case is identified in a school. That information can be found at www.alberta.ca/covid-19.