Red Deer had another sharp decline in COVID-19 cases Wednesday but the city recorded its 39th death from the virus since the start of the pandemic.
There were six new deaths reported across the province over the past 24 hours, including a man in his 50s in Red Deer, who died on Monday. The pandemic death toll in the province is at 2,158.
Red Deer dropped to 605 active cases of the virus, down 29 from Tuesday and nearly 200 from last Friday.
That comes as the province continues to turn the corner in its fight against COVID-19.
In a press conference Wednesday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the signs are pointing to a summer with fewer restrictions.
She explained she’s encouraged by two factors in particular that could lead to a more open summer in the province.
“If we are able to reduce our transmission of COVID-19 and thereby reduce the pressure on our acute care system… Our hospital and ICU numbers coming down and if we’re seeing our immunizations rates rise to where we believe that we would have that protection for the community,” she said.
“If we can achieve those two things together, it is absolutely in our power to do so. I believe we will be able to have a summer with many fewer restrictions.”
The province also reported more than 50.5 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition, there were 908 new COVID-19 cases, based on nearly 10,392 tests for a test positivity rate of 9.1 per cent. There are 685 people in hospital, including 185 in the intensive care unit.
Alberta’s COVID-19 test positivity rate dipped into single digits Wednesday for the first time in a number of weeks, something Hinshaw said is a good sign.
She did say, however, a few factors could be leading to low test numbers including the impact of students shifting to online learning and the current public health measures that are allowing most people to stay home.
“We’re hearing from our local public health teams that sometimes people are saying ‘well I’ll stay home, even if I feel a little sick, I’m not around anyone, I can safely isolate.’ They may feel they’re not wanting to go out and be tested,” Hinshaw said.
Alberta is now down to 18,813 active cases of the virus.
Premier Jason Kenney added in a separate press conference earlier Wednesday, the emergency COVID-19 cabinet will meet on Tuesday and an announcement about a potential reopening could come as early as next Wednesday.
“We continue to be concerned about the current high numbers in the province, particularly in our hospitals. We are at a historic high peak of intensive care admissions right now,” Kenney said.
“That’s why we must continue to be cautious.”
The Central zone is down to 1,978 cases of COVID-19, with 67 people in hospital including 13 in ICU.
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 168 active cases of the virus, Lacombe County has 131 active and Clearwater County sits at 85 active.
Lacombe has 99 active and Sylvan Lake has 106 active cases, while Olds sits at 51 active. Mountain View County sits at 57 active, Kneehill County has 26 active and Drumheller has 17 active.
Camrose County sits at 15 active cases and the County of Stettler has 58.
Camrose is at 67 active cases and Wetaskiwin has 58 active.
On the local geographic area setting, Wetaskiwin County, including Maskwacis has 113 active. Ponoka, including East Ponoka County, has 60 active cases. Rimbey, including parts of Lacombe County has 42 active.