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Edmontonians will be safe if city is chosen as NHL hub: Hinshaw

Alberta identifies 64 new COVID-19 cases, one new death on Thursday
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates the province's COVID-19 situation for July 2, 2020.

After multiple reports that Edmonton will be chosen by the NHL as one of the league’s hub cities to allow playoff hockey to go forward this year, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is promising residents of the city they will be safe if play resumes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I do not have any news on whether Edmonton has been officially chosen by the NHL,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday. “But, if it is, I want to assure everyone that safety remains our top priority.”

Alberta Health developed guidelines to allow the province to safely hold the playoffs in the province if Edmonton or Calgary were to be chosen as a hub city.

Read more: NHL will select Edmonton, Toronto as two final hub city picks: reports

These professional sporting tournament guidelines allow for safety of the players, NHL staff and media.

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“While there are many components, the approach relies on extensive privately-purchased testing and the NHL players and anyone else involved in the tournament forming a cohort that is separate from the public,” Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw promises safety will be top priority if Edmonton becomes NHL hub city
Hinshaw promises safety will be top priority if Edmonton becomes NHL hub city

Players will form cohorts with other players, which would reduce the risk of disease being spread if a case is identified, she said.

“If Edmonton is chosen for the NHL’s event, health officials will work with all applicable partners to ensure the guidance is followed to protect both the public and those involved in the tournament,” Hinshaw said.

She also promised officials will work to ensure public testing is not impacted if the NHL comes to Edmonton.

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“The free testing being offered to all Albertans will always be the top priority.”

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Alberta’s latest COVID-19 numbers

There was not a COVID-19 update from the province on Wednesday due to the Canada Day holiday, so the numbers reported on Thursday covered two days.

Over the last two days, more than 14,600 tests have been performed and 94 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded. Thirty of those cases were confirmed on Wednesday, the remaining 64 were confirmed for Thursday.

There has also been one additional death. Alberta Health said a man in his 80s, who was linked to the South Country Village in Calgary, has died. Alberta’s death toll is now 155.

There are currently 44 people hospitalized and eight of those people are in intensive care.

Read more: 2020 Canada Day ‘unlike any other’ as celebrations move online, cancelled amid COVID-19

To date, more than 7,500 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.

Hinshaw said the province has continued to see an increase of cases in Albertans aged 20-39.

“Although we may be done with COVID[-19], it is not done with us,” she said.

“We must not think that the risk is over and begin relaxing too soon, or think that the virus is only a threat to other people.”

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In June alone, Hinshaw said “dozens” of new cases have been linked to family barbecues, funerals, birthday parties and other get-togethers.

“COVID-19 is still here,” she said. “It will be with us all summer and into the fall, and it will almost certainly be here when we ring in the new year.

“The good news is that we are not powerless. It is on us to decide what the rest of 2020 looks like.”

According to Hinshaw, the best tools for people to protect themselves are the ones she has been talking about since the beginning of the pandemic. She also reiterated that people should stay home if they feel sick and get tested.

“We also need to continue to practise habits of maintaining physical distance when we go out, wearing a face mask in crowded spaces and washing our hands frequently.”

Read more: Coronavirus travel advisory between Saskatchewan and northern Alberta lifted

Global News has heard that people are waiting as long as nine days to get their COVID-19 test results back. Hinshaw said this is partially due to the fact that there has been an increase in people looking to be tested.

She said those getting tested can choose to get their results via an autodialler when they get tested and that should get them their results sooner. She also suggested people have been opting for the drop-in testing centres and facing long lines, while there have been appointment slots that have gone unused.

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Alberta surge in COVID-19 test demand results in delayed response time
Alberta surge in COVID-19 test demand results in delayed response time

“So I’d really encourage people who are wanting to get a test done that, if you look online you see where there might be a test spot available near you that you can book yourself in for.

“The drop-in centre does not give results more quickly than a pre-booked appointment does.”

Alberta Health Services is working on increasing capacity to make the post-test calls, she added.

Hinshaw will be taking next week off and there will be no planned COVID-19 news conferences from the province during that time. Instead, she said the numbers will be posted online every weekday.

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