Alberta announces new COVID numbers, rescinded restrictions and the future of data reporting

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw delivering her last regularly scheduled update on COVID-19 at the Federal Building in Edmonton, Alta. on June 29, 2021. Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta

The province released several updates related to COVID-19 today, including restriction removals, new data and how data will be presented going forward.

According to the latest COVID-19 data released Wednesday afternoon, there is a slight uptick in hospitalizations and a small increase in positive test results across Alberta.

Over the past week, there were 20 new deaths reported, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to date to 4,652. There were 559 people admitted to hospital, 23 of whom landed in the ICU.

However, nearly a quarter of all tests came back positive. As of July 18, the province’s positivity rate was 22.41 per cent.

Read more: Frequent code reds, high levels of ambulance strain in Edmonton region: AHS data

Changes in data reporting

In a news briefing on Wednesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there will be changes made to the province’s data reporting going forward.

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Effective Wednesday, July 20, the province will be adding new graphs that will show the number of people in hospital who are there because of indirect and/or direct COVID-related causes.

It will also continue to provide the hospitalization rate for primary and secondary-related reasons for hospitalization in relation to COVID-19.

This will provide a better opportunity to show the specific severity of COVID over time, Hinshaw said.

Read more: Behind the COVID curtain: formerly confidential Alberta government documents made public

There will be more of a focus on showing where there are current outbreaks by site, how different at-risk sites change over time and how transmission of the virus is moving through these high-risk sites.

Omicron becoming the main strain of COVID changes a lot about how and what data needs to be looked at. The province, Hinshaw said, is moving toward a “more sustainable” model of case reporting.

Dr. Hinshaw said that as Alberta enters the transition phase between pandemic and endemic, the province will “continue to make geographically based metrics to help Albertans understand local transmission risk.”

Alberta Health Services lifts visiting restrictions in acute care facilities

AHS announced in a news release Wednesday that “visit restrictions at AHS acute care, ambulatory care, urgent care and emergency care sites” have been lifted.

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There are no longer limits on “the number of designated family/support persons and visitors permitted per patient,” reads the release.

While these restrictions have been lifted, AHS is reminding everyone that some specialized care units may put in place their own limitations for the safety of vulnerable patients.

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