Alberta now has 5,084 active cases of COVID-19.
The province added 505 additional cases, based on 10,900 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.8 per cent.
Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 91 new cases of variants. There are 1,188 total cases of variants in the province.
Hinshaw noted there are 264 people in hospital, including 43 in intensive care.
With the province set to potentially move into Step 3 of its reopening plan on Monday, Hinshaw wouldn’t commit to whether that would happen, but cautioned that cases are rising in some parts of the province.
“I am hearing a rising belief that because most people who catch COVID-19 recover, that this means we shouldn’t worry about its spread. It is this very fact, of most people having mild symptoms, that makes COVID-19 so dangerous for our communities. This is because any one of us could be carrying the virus and not yet showing symptoms,” she said.
“I don’t ask Albertans to fear COVID-19, I ask us all to respect it. Many European countries are seeing a third wave in cases, hospitalization pressures and deaths. Despite being somewhat ahead of us with vaccine coverage in their populations.”
Hinshaw added that in Lethbridge, where there was a sharp spike in cases over the last month, social gatherings were linked to a lot of the spread. Indoor social gatherings are not currently allowed under the COVID-19 restrictions but may return under Step 3.
“It’s critical that whatever the rules are, that people follow what’s in place. What we’re seeing now and what’s been reported to us, in many of the transmission events that have happened across the province, not just in Lethbridge, is that people are tired of the restrictions and starting to ease up,” she said.
“When that happens, we get spread from one to many.”
The Central zone sits at 475 active cases of COVID-19 and Red Deer has 101 active cases of the virus – up five since Wednesday’s 96.
When looking at the province’s geospatial mapping for COVID-19 cases on the municipality setting, regions are defined by metropolitan areas, cities, urban service areas, rural areas and towns with approximately 10,000 or more people; smaller regions are incorporated into the corresponding rural area.
With that setting, Red Deer County has 13 active cases of the virus, Lacombe County has 33 active and Clearwater County sits at 32 active.
Lacombe has 32 active and Sylvan Lake has 15 active cases, while Olds sits at nine active. Mountain View County sits at 14 active, Kneehill County has three active and Drumheller has 54 active.
Camrose County and County of Stettler have one and six active cases, respectively. Camrose has two active cases and Wetaskiwin has 27 active.
In the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis, has 49 active cases. Ponoka, including east Ponoka County, has 64 active.
Rimbey, including west Ponoka County and partial Lacombe County, has 20 active cases.
Alberta Health Services also opened up COVID-19 vaccine appointments to everyone in Phase 2A Friday. Albertans born between 1947 and 1956 are now able to book appointments throughout the province. Also eligible to book vaccinations starting Monday are First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born in 1971 or earlier.
The AstraZeneca/COVIShield vaccine is available to Albertans born between 1957 and 1971, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born between 1972 and 1986, based on supply.