Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, delivered a positive outlook on the province's future as she delivered her final regularly scheduled briefing on COVID-19 Tuesday.
"Across the board, our numbers are moving in the right direction," Hinshaw said. "Cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and our positivity rates are the lowest they've been since last summer and early fall."
As of Tuesday's update, there were 170 people in hospital — a decrease of nine from the previous day. Of those, 36 were in intensive care units.
Alberta reported 61 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and four deaths. The positivity rate was 1.6 per cent on Monday after about 3,400 tests.
Total active cases dropped 129, down to 1,132 — the lowest since late August 26 last year.
Here is how active cases breakdown by health zone:
Calgary zone: 615
Edmonton zone: 169
North zone: 185
Central zone: 126
South zone: 34
Hinshaw noted there were only five active cases in all the continuing care facilities in Alberta.
"That is a remarkable number," she said. Hinshaw predicted active cases could drop below 500 in a few short weeks.
Tuesday marked Hinshaw's 245th COVID-19 update to reporters and the public since the pandemic began 16 months ago.
Regular updates end
From now on, Hinshaw may still provide updates on the pandemic but only when they are needed. She said last week that cases and vaccination numbers will no longer be reported on weekends, and reproduction values (R-values) will shift to two-week intervals.
Hinshaw said public health monitoring will continue with contact tracing and testing to continue daily.
The change comes as cases continue to decline and Alberta prepares to lift almost all pandemic health restrictions.
Alberta will move to the third and final stage of its summer reopening plan on Canada Day.
For children under 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination, Hinshaw said parents must weigh the risks when navigating the coming months.
"I wish that I could give a very simple set of rules that all parents could follow," she said. Hinshaw encouraged adults to get vaccinated and for children to minimize close contacts and engage in outdoor activities.
She also noted that children under 12 have a low risk of severe outcomes from the disease.
AstraZeneca doses expiring
Another 64,367 doses were administered on Monday. The province is changing how it calculates the vaccination rate, moving to use July 2020 population data by Statistics Canada rather than more up-to-date Alberta Health Services data in order to make data comparable to other provinces.
Hinshaw said 4,632 doses of AstraZeneca received in April are expected to expire at the end of June. More than 289,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Alberta but demand has decreased in recent weeks.
As of Tuesday's update, 72.7 per cent of eligible Albertans have now received one dose while 40.7 per cent are fully immunized.