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'Grim milestone': provincial positivity rate hits double digits at 10.5 per cent

The province is continuing to make plans for field hospitals, in an attempt to be prepared for all possible scenarios.

Alberta’s COVID-19 provincial positivity rate, which indicates what per cent of daily COVID-19 tests come back as positive, has hit double digits for the first time.

On Friday afternoon, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the provincial positivity rate had hit 10.5 per cent, the highest the province has seen yet.

“This positivity rate is a grim milestone and one that should concern us all,” Hinshaw said.

Cases in the province continue to climb rapidly, with 1,828 new cases diagnosed in the past 24 hours. Alberta now has a total of 18,243 active cases.

The province is continuing to make plans for field hospitals, in an attempt to be prepared for all possible scenarios.

This week, CBC reported that the Alberta government has been planning for more than a week to set up indoor field hospitals to treat 750 COVID-19 patients. CBC reported the province is working on a plan for two or more facilities, with 375 beds each in Calgary and Edmonton, for patients with mild to moderate symptoms. The more serious cases would remain in hospitals.

Alberta Health Services President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said the beds would be used by patients requiring low-acuity care and no formal agreements have been made, although talks are underway with several external organizations. CBC reported earlier this week that the Red Cross is one of those organizations being considered.

AHS is also looking to redeploy current healthcare workers, including reaching out to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to see if any members can help with the COVID-19 response.

While the province makes contingency plans, the province said they are working very hard to increase their contact tracing teams, although Yiu noted it is hard to catch up with contact tracing as COVID-19 cases are growing so quickly.

In the past 24 hours, the province ran 17,200 COVID-19 tests, with 10.5 per cent testing positive.

There are currently 533 people in the hospital from the virus, including 99 in the ICU. The deaths of fifteen people from COVID-19 were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the total of COVID-related deaths in the province to 590.

“I want to share my deepest condolences to the family and friends of these individuals,” Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw said although we are in the final month of a long year, which is usually marked by festive gatherings, it is important that Albertans continue to follow the COVID-19 restrictions.

“I want to stress the seriousness of the rising case numbers that we are seeing and how crucial it is that we reduce the spread and bend the curve back down,” Hinshaw said.

Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Newspapers based in St. Albert, Alta.
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