St. Albert has the fourth-highest active COVID-19 case count in the province, with cases nearly doubling again since last week.
Provincial data current as of Jan. 9, shows active COVID cases in the city have hit 1,142 compared to 697 reported last week.
Calgary has the highest amount of active COVID cases at 23,153; Edmonton is at 14,931; and Sherwood Park has 1,244 active cases of the virus.
One more person has died from the virus, bringing the total number of COVID deaths in St. Albert to 54.
The province is reporting 281 active COVID cases in Sturgeon County compared to 191 reported last week. Morinville has 120 active cases of the virus, a number which has doubled from the 60 reported cases last week.
Data shows there are 57,332 active COVID cases in the province. There are 635 people hospitalized and 72 people in ICU with the virus.
Altogether, 3,344 people have died from the virus.
The positivity rate is 38.38 per cent.
In response to the explosion of COVID cases in the province, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, urged employers and organizations on Monday to abandon the requirement to give proof of a positive COVID test result to support sick leave requests.
“With our test positivity currently at 40 per cent, anyone who has COVID symptoms almost certainly has COVID and should just be staying home,” she said during a Jan. 11 press conference.
Hinshaw said the province is aware Albertans are still being asked for the test results from employers and sometimes schools.
With the rapid spread of Omicron, Hinshaw explained, it is not feasible for those who are sick or who test positive on a rapid test to call their family doctor for documentation of a positive result.
In response, the province has adopted a PDF form similar to that in other jurisdictions which allows people to enter their name, the time the test was taken, and other useful information that might be needed if they are asked to show a positive result.
“After printing the document available on our website, you can fill it out and take a photo of your rapid test result. So, you can choose to share this with whomever you wish,” said Hinshaw.
The printable PDF does not replace privately-paid rapid tests, she stressed, and cannot be used for the purposes of the restriction exemption program.
The province also changed the rules around eligibility for PCR testing on Monday, which will now be focused on those with clinical risk factors for severe outcomes and those who live or work in high-risk settings.
A full list of specific categories can be found on the province's website.
If a person is not eligible for PCR testing but has COVID symptoms, such as a stuffy or runny nose, cough, fever, sore throat, or loss of sense of smell or taste, they should isolate until either their symptoms improve or for five days if vaccinated and 10 days if unvaccinated, whichever is the longer period of the two options, said Hinshaw.
“Anyone who has COVID symptoms almost certainly has COVID and should just be staying home,” she said, noting that anyone who goes into an emergency department with mild symptoms will not be eligible for a PCR test.
“For most people with mild illness, a test is not necessary, and symptoms can be managed at home.”
Hinshaw said the evidence consistently shows vaccines are the best defence against COVID.
“Omicron appears to be milder in large part because it's infecting people who are already protected from severe outcomes through vaccination,” she said.
Hinshaw said the booster vaccine is critical in efforts to prevent hospitals and ICUs from being overwhelmed.
In the future, Hinshaw said, rapidly increasing numbers of COVID cases could get to a point where more people will be admitted to hospital.
“Even if only one per cent of cases are in hospital, that's still a tremendous burden on our health-care system.
“That kind of surge has the potential to overwhelm our health-care facilities, not to mention the health-care providers.”