The COVID-19 vaccine is on the way for central Alberta.
The initial 3,900 doses of the vaccine were delivered on Dec. 14, to health care workers in Calgary and Edmonton. Alberta received a second batch of 25,350 doses of the Pfizer vaccine Monday and Red Deer will get 1,950 doses from that batch. Camrose and Drumheller will each receive 975 doses of the vaccine.
“This is just the beginning of immunization in our province – but we’re off to a strong start. We have been ready to receive and administer vaccine since day one – and we will be ready to safely and quickly distribute all future doses into the arms of Albertans,” said premier Jason Kenney.
The first phase of vaccine rollout focuses on respiratory therapists, intensive care physicians and staff, and long-term care and designated supportive living facility workers across Alberta.
Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said the province likely won’t have vaccine doses available for phase one, priority group B until the New Year. That group includes seniors over the age of 75, as well as residents of long-term care facilities and supportive living facilities.
It also includes health-care workers in medical, surgical and COVID-19 units or operating rooms.
Kenney said 3,074 health care workers have got the vaccine since it arrived on Dec. 14.
Red Deer saw a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases Tuesday. According to the province’s geospatial mapping, there are 382 cases in Red Deer. As of Monday’s update, there were 415 active cases. Red Deer also recorded its third death, a man in his 60s who is also linked to the Points West Living outbreak. He died on Dec. 11.
To date, 895 people have recovered from the virus in the city.
The province announced 1,021 new cases of COVID-19, with over 14,000 tests completed, for a positivity rate of 7.2 per cent. Alberta now has 18,331 active cases of COVID-19.
Kenney indicated that Alberta’s spike in COVID-19 cases began around the dinner table at Thanksgiving. He said that’s in part why social gatherings won’t be permitted over the Christmas holidays.
“It won’t take very much for those 800 cases in hospital to turn into 1,600 and 1,600 to turn into 3,200,” he said.
The government did make one exception for Albertans: allowing those who live alone to visit one other household for one gathering between Dec. 23 and 28.
Any household can only host a maximum of two people who live alone. Previously, those individuals living on their own could only have up to two close contacts, but visits could not be held at their home if the close contacts did not live alone.
Those two close contacts for the person living alone must remain the same throughout the next three weeks.
Central zone now has 1,462 active cases of the virus, with 74 people in hospital and nine in the ICU.
Alberta also reported 11 new deaths due to the virus, bringing the death toll in the province to 871. There are now 802 people in hospital, including 152 in the ICU.
“We have made tremendous progress fighting COVID-19 over the last couple of weeks,” Kenney said.
“I’m asking for all of us to keep observing the rules. Together, we’ve come along way and we have a long way to keep going.”
Red Deer County has 84 active cases of COVID-19, Lacombe County has 42 cases, Mountain View County has 36 active and Clearwater has 34.
Lacombe sits at 23 active cases, Sylvan Lake has 22 and Olds has 28. Camrose has 50 active cases and Camrose County has 18.
Ponoka County, the County of Wetaskiwin and Wetaskiwin combined have 497 active cases.