Alberta reported 877 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the province reached another milestone, with more than half of those aged 12 and over now vaccinated with at least one dose.
Though new case numbers are dropping, the province's positivity rate was 11.4 per cent and has remained high for several weeks, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference.
"I am pleased to see our new case numbers declining," Hinshaw said. "This suggests that our public health measures are beginning to have an impact, thanks to the sacrifices Albertans are making every day."
At this time last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, the positivity rate was 1.5 per cent, she said. That difference shows why public health measures are still needed.
Hospitals were treating 691 patients with the illness, including 187 in ICU beds. Another four deaths were reported.
Hinshaw said the province has now administered more than 2.24 million doses of vaccine. She called the vaccine numbers a "significant feat," and said it offers "further proof" that the COVID-19 situation in Alberta is improving.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said the vaccination rate will be a consideration in the province's reopening plans.
Across the province, there were 20,013 active cases, down more than 1,250 from the day before.
The regional breakdown of active cases was:
Calgary zone: 9,316
Edmonton zone: 4,656
North zone: 2,991
Central zone: 2,054
South zone: 985
Laboratories completed a total of about 15,000 tests on Sunday and Monday, compared to almost 26,000 on those two days the week before.
Asked about the test numbers, Hinshaw said there are always fluctuations through the week, with weekend numbers tending to be lower.
"We know that things like having people staying at home for the most part may impact their decisions about whether or not they feel that going for a test is important," she said. "If they're able to stay home and isolate, even if they feel a little sick, they may feel that going for testing isn't necessary."
Weather can also impact the number of people who go for tests, she said.
COVID-19 case numbers are showing three distinct curves, according to Dr. Noel Gibney, co-chair of the Edmonton Zone medical staff association's pandemic response committee
"The new cases are starting to go down quite significantly. The new hospitalizations are kind of plateaued to going down," he told CBC News. "But the ICU curve, which is usually about seven to 10 days behind the hospital curve, is still going up."
Alberta is seeing the highest number of ICU admissions in the province's history, which is putting a significant strain on the health-care system.
On Monday, there were about 240 people in ICU, of which about three-quarters were COVID-19 patients.