Alberta reports 513 new cases of COVID-19, one more death

Alberta reported 513 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and one more death from the illness.

Across the province, there were 10,017 actives cases, with 538 patients being treated in hospitals, including 150 in ICU beds.

Alberta has administered more than 2.5 million doses of vaccine. It has reported one fatality and tracked 385 “adverse events” experienced by people who got injections, Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday at a news conference.

On Wednesday, Kenney’s government announced a three-step plan that could see almost all public health restrictions lifted by July, as long as people continue to get vaccinated.

“This is Alberta’s response to the science of vaccines, of population protection,” Kenney said Thursday about that plan. “Because at the end of the day we cannot permanently rely on damaging public-health restrictions to protect our public health from this pandemic, especially since we now have the incredibly powerful and effective tools of vaccines.

“In jurisdictions where there has been widespread use of vaccines, and other forms of protection, like from natural immunity, we have seen those jurisdictions be able to open up, get life back to normal, while continuing to observe significant declines in pressure from COVID, including new cases and hospitalizations.”

The premier was joined Thursday by Alberta’s chief medical officer of health to provide an update on Alberta’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and fully reopen by mid-summer.

With case counts declining and vaccination rates hitting new highs, Alberta has set its sights on a summer that will be increasingly less restricted by the pandemic. 

The first stage begins Friday, effectively reversing restrictions introduced three weeks ago when surging case counts threatened to overwhelm hospitals. 

This first step requires that 50 per cent of Albertans have received at least one dose of vaccine, and that hospitalizations be below 800 and declining — thresholds that have already been met.

On Friday, worship services will again be allowed to host up to 15 per cent of fire code capacity. The rest of the changes begin Tuesday.

Restaurant patios, barbershops and nail salons will reopen. Outdoor gatherings and organized sporting events of up to 10 people will again be permitted. 

Each stage of the plan is tied to vaccination rates, with a two-week lag to ensure the doses have time to take effect. Kenney has said the reopening would be paused if hospitalization rates start to climb again.

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