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Alberta confirms 4 more deaths at continuing care sites due to COVID-19 Thursday

4 new COVID-19 related deaths in Calgary continuing care facilities announced Thursday
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, issues her update on the province's COVID-19 response for May 21, 2020.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday there were 33 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Alberta, bringing the total number of active cases to 926.

She said 5,710 people have recovered.

Fifty-nine Albertans were in hospital as of Thursday, six of whom were in intensive care units.

More than 4,000 lab tests were done in the last 24 hours.

READ MORE: Edmonton playgrounds and zoo to reopen, paid parking coming back as relaunch continues

Four more Albertans died from COVID-19, the province said Thursday, bringing the death toll to 132.

The four people who passed away were: a man in his 80s who lived at Extendicare Hillcrest, a woman in her 90s from Chartwell Eau Claire Retirement Residences, a woman in her 80s from Intercare Brentwood Care Centre, and a man in his 70s from Carewest Sarcee, all continuing care facilities in Calgary.

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“We do know that older individuals are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19,” Hinshaw said.

The average fatality age is 82, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said.

READ MORE: iOS update now allows ABTraceTogether app to work in background on iPhones

“Although four cases were reported today, the actual deaths may have happened over the last few days,” Hinshaw explained.

“It’s important to note that the outcome in terms of how severe an illness is and whether or not that worst-case outcome happens — where someone passes away — is in large part dependent on the age and previous medical conditions of the person who was infected.

“We do know there will be more deaths. As long as there are infections, there will be a small proportion of those who, unfortunately, go on to pass away.

“Those four deaths being reported all together on the same day could just be a reflection of reporting patterns, but also a reflection of the ongoing challenges we do have in some of the continuing care outbreaks in the province.”

READ MORE: Alberta reports 1 new COVID-19 death on Wednesday, 19 new cases

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“We will continue to monitor outbreaks at these [long-term care] facilities and take additional measures as necessary to protect the health of residents and staff.”

Still, Hinshaw said the downward, steady trend in overall active cases and hospitalizations is encouraging.

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“While it is too early to see the full impact of the relaunch, so far, our case numbers have held steady.

“A large part of this is due to you and the sacrifices you have made — and continue to make.”

Thursday marks one week since Phase 1 of Alberta’s economic relaunch began.

Businesses allowed to re-open in the first phase can access health and safety support online through the government’s Biz Connect website.

Hinshaw explains difference between rules for restaurants and entertainment venues
Hinshaw explains difference between rules for restaurants and entertainment venues

Alberta Health officials will be carefully watching the numbers in Calgary and Brooks to determine whether either city will be allowed to move into the next phase of Stage 1 reopening.

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Premier Jason Kenney and Hinshaw are to announce Friday whether restaurants, barber shops and hair salons will be allowed to open on Monday in Calgary and Brooks.

Those types of businesses are already allowed to open in the rest of the province, but high case counts in Calgary and Brooks have prompted Hinshaw to advise going slower there.

She says the declining case numbers bode well for reopening businesses in those cities.

READ MORE: Province to decide Friday whether Calgary, Brooks will move to next phase of Stage 1 relaunch

COVID-19 outbreaks

There are now five active COVID-19 cases connected to the Cargill meat plant, Hinshaw said.

There are 10 active cases linked to the JBS Foods plant in Brooks.

Hinshaw doesn’t believe Cascades COVID-19 outbreak will stall city’s reopening
Hinshaw doesn’t believe Cascades COVID-19 outbreak will stall city’s reopening

There are 53 cases associated with the outbreak at Cascades Recycling Facility in Calgary, 16 of whom have recovered, Hinshaw said Thursday.

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While the number seems high, it could be the result of wider testing of asymptomatic individuals at that recycling centre, she explained.

“We’re not seeing necessarily the really steep increase we’ve seen in other outbreaks,” Hinshaw added.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak at Calgary recycling facility not affecting blue cart program at this point

Testing is being offered to everyone on site, whether they have symptoms or not.

Hinshaw doesn’t believe the Cascades outbreak will jeopardize Calgary’s next stage of reopening.

“I know that it’s difficult to wait,” she said.

“I know that the encouraging results we’ve had from relaunch I think are causing people to wonder, ‘Well, could we open faster or more?’ We’re looking very closely at the results and making sure we’re watching what our neighbours [other provinces] are doing.

“We’ll be able to learn what types of risks we can avoid, what kinds of things are safe, and we’re taking all that information in and continually assessing our progress as we go along.”

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On Wednesday, Alberta Health reported 19 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest number of new cases since March 29, when there were 18.

Alberta confirms 4 more deaths at continuing care sites due to COVID-19 Thursday
Alberta confirms 4 more deaths at continuing care sites due to COVID-19 Thursday

Files from The Canadian Press

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