Alberta broke another pair of grim records on Monday, reporting 20 more COVID-19 deaths, by far the most ever in a single day.
That record came with another one, as the province tallied 10,031 active cases of the illness.
Across Alberta, 264 people were being treated in hospital for the illness, including 57 who are in ICU beds.
On Monday, the province reported 860 new cases, and had a positivity rate of about seven per cent.
"This is not an influenza season," Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Monday at a news conference. "This is a global pandemic that requires each one of us to pull together to protect our communities, families, and friends."
The 20 new deaths over the past 24 hours, Hinshaw said,represent much more than simple numbers.
"These are people," she said. "As our cases rise, our deaths will rise. Every time I speak about deaths I offer condolences, because each one of these people will be missed and mourned. The measures in place right now are literally a matter of life and death, and the choices Albertans are making now will determine our future in a few weeks."
The province is now clearly in a second wave of the pandemic, Hinshaw said.
"About a month ago, when we were looking at our numbers the possibility was still there that we could turn things around and just have sort of a slow burn or small ripples. And clearly that's not what's happened.
"So I would say, yes, it is a second wave at this point in time. But again it's up to us where that wave peaks and how quickly we can bring it down. And that number is not inevitable. It continues to be in our hands."
Over 10,000 active cases
The numbers themselves clearly indicate the direction the pandemic is headed as that second wave sweeps over the province.
A month ago, Alberta had 2,836 active cases, and more than six times that many people, 18,651, were listed as recovered.
Those two totals are much closer now. The latest update shows 10,031 active cases, with less than three times as many people, 29,731, listed as recovered.
A regional breakdown of the active cases was:
Calgary zone: 4,141
Edmonton zone: 4,134
North zone: 665
South zone: 556
Central zone: 447
Because of the high number of COVID-19 cases, AHS announced Monday that visitation was being restricted at all acute care sites in the province.
"Only designated family/support persons are permitted to visit in-patients at this time," reads an update from AHS posted on Twitter. "Visitor access is allowed only for patients at end-of-life and for those receiving critical care for a life-threatening illness."
Full information on the change is available at ahs.ca/visitation.
Hinshaw asks police to enforce measures
Hinshaw was asked about a protest held in Calgary on Sunday, where about 200 people gathered downtown to voice their opposition to tightened public health measures brought in by the province late last week.
"It is disappointing that there are those who think that the health of our communities is being taken lightly and that these measures are not necessary," Hinshaw said. "I have written a letter to police chiefs across the province asking for their help in enforcing the current measures and doing our best to step up the reinforcement of the importance of them.
Hinshaw said she got an email Monday that indicated Calgary performed additional inspections over the weekend to monitor the requirement to close restaurants and bars at 11 p.m. and found there was "significant compliance" with that rule.
"I think that many operators are recognizing how serious the situation is," she said.
Complicating the battle to slow the spread of coronavirus is the fact that each case, on average, now has about 15 close contacts within the infectious period, Hinshaw said.
"That means with about 1,000 new cases a day, there are about 15,000 people every day who are new close contacts," she said. "It is impossible to make phone calls to each one."
Online portal speeding up contact tracing
For that reason, she said, AHS is using the online portal to speed up this work. Since AHS launched this portal on Nov. 12, about 25 per cent of notified positive cases have used it to enter close contacts.
"This is a good start, but we need to do more," Hinshaw said. "I understand that getting a positive test result can be overwhelming, but please follow all direction from AHS for sharing your contact information. They have made it easy and it is anonymous. Your information is not shared with the close contacts you enter in the portal."
Last Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney introduced a two-week suspension of recreational team sports and other indoor group activities and shortened the hours bars and restaurants can serve alcohol. He warned that harsher measures would be coming if the numbers didn't flatten out.
The 20 most recent COVID-19 deaths were:
A man in his 60s from the Calgary zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Mount Royal Revera.
A woman in her 60s from the North zone.
A woman in her 60s from the South zone.
A man in his 60s from the Edmonton zone.
A man in his 70s from the Edmonton zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
A woman in her 70s from the South zone.
A man in his 70s from the South zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Edith Cavell Care Centre.
A man in his 80s from the Calgary zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Wing Kei Care Centre.
A man in his 80s from the Central zone.
A man in his 80s from the Edmonton zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
A man in his 80s from the Calgary zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Bow-Crest, Revera
A woman in her 80s from the Edmonton zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at South Terrace Continuing Care
A man in his 80s from the Edmonton zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Covenant Care Chateau Vitaline.
A man in his 90s from the Calgary zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Wing Kei Care Centre.
A man in his 90s from the Calgary zone.
A woman in her 90s from the Calgary zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at Mount Royal, Revera.
A woman in her 90s from the Edmonton zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at South Terrace Continuing Care.
A woman in her 90s from the Edmonton zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at Villa Marguerite
A man in his 90s from the Calgary Zone; his death is linked to the outbreak at Carewest George Boyack.
A woman in her 100s from the Edmonton Zone; her death is linked to the outbreak at Covenant Care Chateau Vitaline.