WESTLOCK — The Westlock area is three active cases away from being placed on a provincial COVID-19 watchlist.
On Tuesday, two more people tested positive for COVID, and the area now has seven active cases and a total of 14 cases recorded.
This marks the third consecutive reporting period when someone tests positive in the Westlock area, which includes Westlock County, the Town of Westlock and the Village of Clyde.
Westlock currently sits at a rate of 51.2 active cases per 100,000 people, which is above the provincial threshold of 50 per 100,000. Despite that, the area won’t be watch-listed until 10 active cases are recorded.
In the Town & Country area, Barrhead has eight active cases of 13 total, and Athabasca has one active of 13 total.
The province’s top doctor, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced that pharmacies and Alberta Health Services will no longer test asymptomatic people with no known exposure because, she said, those tests are ineffective at limiting the spread.
Only 0.11 per cent of asymptomatic tests came back positive.
“This is an important and necessary step that will help us reduce testing wait times, get results to Albertans and limit the spread,” she said. Symptomatic Albertans and those with appointments up to Nov. 4 can still get tested.
Hinshaw, however, encouraged influenza immunizations to reduce the likelihood of showing symptoms that are markedly similar to those of COVID-19. Those are available at local pharmacies.
Provincially, 323 new cases were identified since yesterday. That’s a provincial positivity rate of 2.5 per cent with 3,203 active cases. In schools, Hinshaw announced there are 512 cases in eight per cent of the province’s schools. Ninety-six schools are on outbreak, but Westlock-area schools are not on the province’s watchlist.
The Edmonton zone continues to have more than 50 per cent of active cases in the province, with 1,607 cases. After additional voluntary measures were introduced two weeks ago, Hinshaw said the rate of growth has started to slow down somewhat.
She warned against large social gatherings where attendants don’t social distance or wear masks: “COVID-19 really does love parties, and we need to keep this in mind.”
Sixteen people are in ICU of the 116 COVID-related hospitalizations across Alberta — that’s 23 per cent of the total COVID-allocated capacity for ICU. In the past two weeks, Hinshaw said the province has seen a 3.1 per cent rise in hospitalizations, close to the five per cent threshold.
“I am concerned by the rise,” she said, “which appears to be driven by a number of factors, mainly the increase in community case counts and several hospital outbreaks.”
One more person died in the last 24 hours, so the death toll has reached 293 people.