On Sunday, Alberta hit a grim milestone.
Alberta Health reported the largest number of COVID-19-related deaths announced in a 24-hour period since the pandemic hit the province.
There were a total of 22 deaths related to the virus, as well as 1,717 new cases.
The new daily high brought the total number of COVID-related deaths in Alberta to 719 since the start of the pandemic.
There are now 20,562 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, the majority of which remain in Calgary and Edmonton zones. There were 9,778 cases in the Edmonton zone and 7,268 cases in the Calgary zone.
There were 681 people in hospital across the province with 136 people in ICU.
There were 21,725 COVID-19 tests completed on Dec. 12, giving a positivity rate at just under eight per cent over the 24-hour period. There have now been a total of 2,507,588 completed tests in Alberta since the pandemic began.
Twenty of the 22 reported deaths Sunday involved senior citizens.
Six of the deaths were linked to the outbreak at the Capital Care Lynwood in Edmonton: two men in their 80s, a man in his 60s, a woman in her 90s, a woman in her 80s, and a woman in her 70s. Alberta Health said all of the deaths related to that centre included comorbidities.
There were three deaths linked to the outbreak in Salem Manor in Leduc: a woman in her 100s, a man in his 90s and a man in his 80s. All three of those deaths included comorbidities, according to Alberta Health.
There were six other deaths in the Edmonton Zone: a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Edmonton’s Chinatown Care Centre whose case included comorbidities, a man in his 50s with no known comorbidities, a man in his 40s linked to the outbreak at Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre whose case included comorbidities, a woman in her 70s whose case included comorbidities and two men in their 70s — one case included comorbidities while the other had unknown comorbidities.
There were three deaths in the Calgary Zone: a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Bethany and two women in their 80s linked to the outbreak at Agecare Skypointe. All three deaths included comorbidities.
There were two deaths linked to the outbreak at St. Mary’s Hospital in the Central Zone: a woman in her 80s and a man in his 90s. The woman’s death included comorbidities, while it is unknown at this time if the man’s death included comorbidities.
There was also one death reported involving a man where the details, including age and zone, have yet to be confirmed.
The new daily record for COVID-19-related deaths came on the same day as new restrictions began across the province.
As part of the new restrictions, dine-in service at restaurants and bars is no longer permitted and all personal service businesses like hair salons and gyms must close.
All social gatherings are also banned — not just indoor, but now outdoor as well. The province is also imposing mandatory work-from-home measures and an Alberta-wide mask mandate.
While retail businesses in Alberta may remain open, they must do so at a lower fire code capacity limit of 15 per cent. Worship centres will also stay open under those same limits.
Some Alberta health-care workers prepare for vaccination
The first 30,000 initial doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Canada Sunday evening, ahead of Alberta’s vaccination rollout Wednesday.
Health officials have said the vaccination program in Alberta will begin with 3,900 doses of the vaccine for 3,900 healthcare workers, including ICU doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and long-term care workers in the province.
Lisa Vallee is a critical care nurse in the Edmonton area and has been selected as one of the first recipients.
“I was kinda in disbelief,” Vallee said. “I heard they were bringing a small amount of vaccines to Alberta — and there was talk on my unit as well that we were likely going to be the first group, because they did specifically say they’d start with critical care nurses”
“It wasn’t real until that moment I was actually picking an appointment time – I was so excited.”
Vallee said receiving the vaccination will relieve some of her anxiety on working directly with COVID-19 patients.
“It’s been a long nine months working in health care,” she said. “I know it will take months — even up to a year — to get to a point where we can have a lot of people vaccinated, but a start is nice.
“It’s been a long time coming.”
She added that she has no hesitation on her decision to sign up and trusts the experts along with Health Canada officials who approved the vaccine.
“For me, the amount of times I’ve put myself at risk at the bedside for COVID patients, it’s a relief, and I will happily take this vaccine if it’s a step forward to some sort of normal life again.”
— With files from Allison Bench, Global NewsView link »