Alberta COVID-19 test positivity rate hits two-month low; ‘estimated’ 400 new cases

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Five days’ worth of data on COVID-19 deaths is expected Monday. To date, at least 1,046 Albertans have died from the coronavirus since the province recorded its first death in mid-March. The death toll in December alone is 466. It took more than eight months for Alberta to log its first 466 deaths from COVID-19.

The update comes as Alberta accelerates its vaccine distribution, following a sluggish start to immunizations.

The province dramatically missed its goal to administer the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 29,000 Albertans by the end of 2020. At the end of day on Jan. 31, Alberta had inoculated 14,244 people, less than half their stated goal.

The arrival of the Moderna vaccine has helped speed up shots, particularly due to its logistical benefits over the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which must be transported and stored at ultra-cold temperatures, according to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. An estimated 3,000 vaccine doses were administered Jan. 1, but no updated data has been released since.

Phase one of the vaccination program is expected to last until April and involves immunizing front-line health-care workers, long-term care residents and staff, those over 75 years of age and First Nations seniors.

Some Alberta First Nations celebrated their first vaccinations over the holiday long weekend.

The Blood Tribe began administrating the first of two vaccine doses to residents and staff at the Kainai Continuing Care Centre, vaccinating residents Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, the oldest resident at the Siksika Elders Lodge — 94-year-old Virginia Medicine Traveller — became the first member of Siksika Nation to be vaccinated against COVID-19 the same day.

On Wednesday, when the figures were last updated, Alberta had 14,555 active cases of the coronavirus, including 5,129 in the Alberta Health Services Calgary zone.

There were 921 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, 152 of whom were in ICUs.

jherring@postmedia.com

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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