EDMONTON, AB – We may not be moving into Step Two of Alberta’s Path Forward as early as initially thought.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the R-value in Alberta over the past week has been 1.03 with Edmonton and Calgary falling just below one and the rest of the province tracking at 1.13.

She reminds us that any time the R-value is greater than one, cases are rising.

Hinshaw says we are below the Step Two threshold of hospitalizations but we’ve seen growing cases in recent days.

Because of that, she says no decision on possibly easing more restrictions will be made before March 1 at the earliest, adding an abundance of caution is needed when making such potentially large-scale decisions.

Hinshaw says “it is too early to say if this recent increase is significant, or, but a temporary pause in the strong downward trend we have seen in the past several months.”

She also says businesses have asked for a week’s notice before Step Two is implemented and that’s something the government will strive to do.

That would bring us to the second week of March, at the earliest, for a possible easing of more restrictions under Step Two.

There were 273 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the past 24 hours out of 6,062 tests for a provincial positivity rate of about 4.5 percent.

A total of 29 people in the South Zone of Alberta Health Services tested positive for the virus, 22 of them in Lethbridge.

The city now has 214 active cases.