CALGARY, AB – “We can look forward to easing restrictions in the fairly near future”.

That Monday afternoon from Premier Jason Kenney as he provided an update on the current COVID-19 situation in the province.

He didn’t give an exact timeline for that, but the Premier did say COVID case numbers have been going down quickly all across Alberta and that is great news.

“We are working a clear path to reopen Alberta this summer,” said Kenney. “Tied, in part to the rate of vaccinations and to hospitalizations. It’ll be a careful plan that will get us to a great Alberta summer as long as Albertans can continue the huge momentum to get vaccinated.”

Kenney also stated the province is expecting COVID-19 hospitalizations to peak within the next week or two.

He’s again encouraging all eligible Albertans to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Nearly half of Albertans aged 12 and older have at least one dose as of Monday.

As for that reopening plan, the Premier says to “stay tuned in the near future” for that with the government’s emergency management cabinet committee meeting this week and next and they’re “very close” to releasing it.

Third Wave Impacting Alberta ICUs

Some sobering numbers when it comes to Alberta’s current ICU capacity.

Health officials reiterated Monday the seriousness of this third wave and what it means for the health care system.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Alberta Health Services, Dr. Verna Yiu, says as of Sunday, May 16 there were 186 COVID patients in the ICU.

“This is six times higher than the record number of influenza patients needing ICU care in previous years,” said Dr. Yiu. “We currently have more than 240 people in our general systems ICUs across the province. That is easily the most ICU patients that we have ever seen in our health care system and definitely higher than what we’ve seen in waves one and two.”

The province is normally set up for 170 ICU patients in total and right now we’re 40% above that.

Here in Lethbridge, active cases of COVID-19 continue to decline to the lowest levels we’ve seen in about two months.

Last Thursday, May 13, there were 392 active cases in the community – the first time that number had dipped below 400 since March 12.

Active cases declined even more over the weekend and were down to 350 by Saturday.