Kenney gives COVID-19 update in wake of renewed criticism over Alberta reopening

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, will provide an update on COVID-19 Wednesday evening.

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services will also take part.

The news conference will start at 6 p.m. MT. You can watch it live here. CBC Radio will also carry it live across Alberta.

Alberta is leading the country by a wide margin in daily new COVID-19 cases and active cases.

In a Zoom meeting with physicians on Monday, Hinshaw said the province’s controversial lifting of all COVID-19 public health restrictions in early July set the trajectory for the explosive fourth wave that has pushed its health-care system to the breaking point.

Hinshaw also said she “deeply” regrets her part in contributing to a narrative that “COVID’s over.”

Doctors, the Opposition NDP, business groups and others have repeatedly called in recent weeks for Kenney and his government to take more action to curb the spread of COVID-19, including the introduction of a vaccine passport, as other provinces have done.

The same groups have also criticized the reopening plans.

Hospitals in Edmonton, Calgary and other centres are being overwhelmed during the pandemic’s fourth wave.

CBC News reported Wednesday that critically ill patients are being airlifted out of Red Deer Regional Hospital as doctors and nurses from its various departments are recruited to care for patients on ventilators due to spiking COVID-19 cases in central Alberta.

On Wednesday, Alberta reported 1,609 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 new deaths, the highest number of deaths reported in one day in the province’s fourth wave. 

There are 877 people in hospital, including 218 in intensive care. Of the ICU patients, 92.3 per cent are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

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