Red Deer has now seen 110 recoveries from COVID-19, an increase of two from Friday’s report.

The number of active cases across the Central zone has also risen sharply from 50 on Friday to 109 as of Tuesday. That includes four in Red Deer County, two in Sylvan Lake, 10 in Lacombe, seven in Lacombe County, two in Olds and eight in both Mountain View County and the County of Stettler.

A COVID-19 ‘watch’ is now in effect for Ponoka County where there are 36 active cases as of Tuesday (a rate of 131.1 per 100,000 residents). A ‘watch’ means a community or region is above the threshold of at least 10 active cases and a rate of over 50 active cases per 100,000 population, but no additional measures have been implemented.

The Central zone continues to have three hospitalizations relating to the virus.

Province-wide, almost 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Alberta over the long weekend.

There are 961 new cases across the province in Tuesday’s update. There were 236 cases confirmed on Oct. 9, 259 on Oct. 10, 246 on Oct. 11 and 220 on Oct. 12.

The total number of COVID-19 cases across the province stands at 20,956. There are 2,615 active cases, up 390 from Friday, and 18,055 recovered cases, up 567.

There are currently 97 Albertans in hospital, 13 in ICU. There have been 286 deaths, an increase of four from Friday.

The province conducted 58,183 tests in the past 96 hours – 16,193 on Oct. 9, 13,874 on Oct. 10, 16,657 on Oct. 11 and 11,459 on Oct. 12.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Alberta Health Services is watching Alberta’s health system carefully to ensure that hospitalizations and ICU admissions remain within the province’s capacity.

She also said she is concerned by the rise in cases, particularly in the Edmonton Zone where there are 1,440 active cases at the moment.

“As I noted last week, due to the long incubation period of COVID-19 it will be at least a week or two before we start to see the impact of the voluntary measures announced last week for the Edmonton Zone,” Hinshaw said.

She added that data shows rising case counts in schools are in line with rising case counts elsewhere and there has been a significant increase in testing among school-age chilldren.

“As I have said before, one of the best ways to limit cases in schools, hospitals and continuing care is to limit transmission within the community,” she said. “COVID-19 is a difficult virus to contain and the more cases and spread we see in our communities, the more likely it becomes that we will see it in other places as well.”

She encouraged everyone, particularly those in the Edmonton Zone, to be extra diligent with the health measures that have become commonplace in the past seven months – washing your hands, staying physically distant, mask-wearing when that’s not possible and staying home when sick.

Beginning Wednesday testing at AHS assessment centres will be by appointment only. Hinshaw said the testing will be quicker and more efficient and reduce crowding in lines.

Hinshaw also said contact tracers are finding more people are reluctant to share information about where they may have been exposed to the virus, where they’ve been while infectious and who they may have been in contact with since.

She said it is understandable people are frustrated at how the virus has affected their daily lives.

“Unfortunately, choosing not to work with contact tracers does not make that better, it makes it worse. If we are not able to trace contact and prevent the virus from spreading, the impacts will continue to grow.”

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