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Alberta set to lift all health measures as active cases rise above 1,500

As the end of July nears, active COVID-19 cases in both the city of Airdrie and the province of Alberta have continue on a upward trend.

As the end of July nears, active COVID-19 cases in both the city of Airdrie and the province of Alberta have continue on an upward trend.

The recent increase in cases comes along with a July 28 announcement from provincial government officials that COVID-19 measures will soon fall in line with practices designated for other respiratory viruses. 

“Our top priority is supporting the health of Albertans,” Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a government press release issued on July 28. “COVID-19 is still with us, but we are now in a place where we need to manage it through vaccinations and the proven public health measures used for other communicable viruses.

“We expect to see increased influenza and other viruses this year, and these changes will make sure the health system is ready and able to support all Albertans in the months ahead.”

Locally, the most recent count has Airdrie sitting at 32 active cases – eight more than was reported on July 28. Provincial case counts are also rising, with more than 1,500 active infections recorded as of the same date. Alberta identified 233 new cases on July 28 – the highest daily total since early June – with a testing positivity rate of 2.38 per cent.

On a positive note, no new deaths were identified from COVID-19 on July 28. To date, 2,325 people in Alberta have died from the virus.

As of July 28, over 75 percent of Airdrie's eligible population has received their first dose of a vaccine, while nearly 70 per cent are fully vaccinated. Provincial percentages are only slightly different – 75.6 of eligible Albertans have received their first dose of COVID-29, and 64.3 percent are fully vaccinated. Alberta currently has the lowest percentage of first-dose immunization among Canada's provinces and territories.

The number of hospitalizations in the province has dropped despite the recent rise in the number of cases – 89 Albertans were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of July 28, while 20 patients were receiving care in the ICU.

Several changes to Alberta's COVID-19 protocols are set to take effect in the coming days and weeks, according to Hinshaw's July 28 announcement, with the most significant amendments set to take place on Aug. 16.

On that day, all provincial masking mandates will be lifted, isolation for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 will no longer be mandatory but recommended, and testing will no longer be recommended for those who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms. Isolation hotels for those returning to Alberta and quarantine support will also no longer be available after this date. 

Hospitalizations will still be regularly monitored and outbreak protocols will be introduced into specific settings when necessary, according to a government press release.

Provincial and national health authorities continue to push for vaccination as a way to lower case numbers, case severity, the spreading of the new Delta variant and ultimately, a fourth wave.