Two more people in Alberta have died from COVID-19, both residents of continuing care facilities, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 48 on Tuesday.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in her daily update on Tuesday, April 14, that one death was a woman in her 90s at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary, and the other was a man in his 80s at the Shepherd’s Care Foundation Kensington Village in Edmonton.
“To the family and friends of these people, and to all who have recently lost loved ones to any cause, I offer my deep condolences,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said.
“While we can start to become numb to these numbers as time goes on, each one of these individuals had a life that mattered and people that loved them.”
Hinshaw said that there now have been 21 deaths at the McKenzie Towne centre, and 30 of the total provincial deaths have been at continuing care facilities.
“I know many Albertans have concerns about their loved ones at these facilities,” she said. “We are testing any staff or resident who displays any symptoms at continuing care facilities.”
She said the province has added increased measures to protect people living and working at the facilities, including daily screenings and temperature checks, requiring workers to limit themselves to one site, as well as mask requirements for those who interact with residents.
“Protecting the health and residents and staff in these facilities is our top priority,” Hinshaw said.
Provincial total of COVID-19 cases now at 1,870
Over the past 24 hours, the province has identified 138 new cases, bringing the provincial total to 1,870.
Hinshaw said that 914 people have recovered, which means there are 956 active cases in Alberta.
As of Tuesday, of the confirmed cases, 44 people were in hospital, 14 of whom were admitted to intensive care units.
She added that the “vast majority” of overall cases in the province have been in Calgary, which has seen a total of 1,242 cases. Edmonton has seen 402 as of Tuesday.
A total of 33 people have died in the Calgary zone, eight people have died in the Edmonton zone, six people have died in the North zone, and one person has died in the Central zone.
“While we are seeing a steady rise in recovered cases in the province, we should also expect to see a rise of cases in the coming days, as a result of expanded testing.”
On Monday, Alberta expanded testing eligibility to anyone in the province with COVID-19 symptoms.
Hinshaw said that the province is ramping up testing in the Calgary area, “given that this zone has consistently had the highest rate of illness.”
She added the province has completed 2,868 COVID-19 tests over the last 24 hours. Hinshaw said that while the pandemic will likely continue for “some while,” the expanded testing in the province will provide “robust data” that should help provide a clearer timeline going forward.
“I hope to provide some more structured timelines soon to the emergency management coordination committee of Cabinet, for them to consider next steps going forward,” she said.
“I know that many Albertans may be tired of hearing about COVID-19,” she added. “For all of us, I wonder if one of the hardest things to manage is the uncertainty looking forward.
“COVID-19 is an unprecedented pandemic, and it has impacted every one of us. We are all grieving in some way.”
Province announces caregiver funding
Health Minister Tyler Shandro also spoke at Tuesday’s update, to announce that the province will be providing a $3 million grant to Caregivers Alberta, to help expand support programs for those caring for family and friends through the pandemic.
“Not only do these caregivers improve the lives of those they care for, they also have a tremendous impact on our health system,” said Shandro. “Estimates indicate the value of their time to be around $5.8 billion. This is an enormous contribution, and one we don’t think about and recognize nearly enough.”
About 1 million Albertans are caregivers, according to the province. Caregivers Alberta is a non-profit organization that supports these caregivers, including support and coaching programs, as well as an advisory phone line.
“Our ability to weather this pandemic in the weeks and the months ahead depends on how well we take care of one another,” Shandro said.
The province also announced Tuesday that military families needing child care could access reopened child care centres.