COVID-19: Nineteen deaths over long weekend as case counts continue to decline

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Alberta reported 19 new deaths associated with COVID-19 over the Victoria Day long weekend, a grim reminder of the pandemic’s toll among otherwise positive trends.

On Monday, Alberta reported its sixth consecutive day of declines in new cases. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 452 new cases of COVID-19, down from 563, 621, 732, 812 and 908 on each of the preceding days.

It was the first time Alberta has added fewer than 500 cases in a day since March 22.

On Monday, there were 13,608 active cases in Alberta, down from 19,957 the week before. The positivity rate remains stubbornly high — 8.8 per cent on 5,085 tests — but was an improvement over the week before when 10.4 per cent of tests came back positive.

There were also seven additional deaths reported Monday, bringing the total over the long weekend to 19.

On the hospital front, there were 569 infected people in hospital, including 161 in the intensive care unit. On Sunday there were 581 in hospital and 162 in intensive care. On May 17, there were 678 COVID-related hospitalizations with 181 in ICU.

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In a tweet, Hinshaw said the province continues to make “excellent” progress on vaccinations, with 2.53 million shots distributed to 48.7 per cent of the population.

The update comes as Premier Jason Kenney takes flak for a tweet about the government’s COVID-19 response. The Sunday tweet highlights the fact that 40 per cent of Albertans hospitalized for COVID since Feb. 1 were under the age of 40.

“The people that are getting ill and hospitalized now are overall younger and without compromising health conditions because we took steps to protect vulnerable Albertans first,” he wrote. “That strategy has worked. Now we just need to get everyone else vaccinated.”

Opposition leader Rachel Notley called the sentiment “tone-deaf and disturbing.”

“The strategy should be as few Albertans as possible getting COVID-19,” she tweeted.

Jerrica Goodwin, Kenney’s press secretary, accused Notley of stoking “contrived controversy for her own political gain.”

“We are pleased that the strategy has been validated with far fewer deaths than in the second wave last year,” she said in an email.

Of Alberta’s active COVID cases, 3,361 were in the Edmonton zone, 5,853 were in Calgary, 2,165 were in the north zone, 1,489 were in central Alberta and 728 were in southern Alberta.

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