The number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta continues to climb.

There were 49 new cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed between Thursday and Friday, bringing the provincial total up to 195.

In the South Zone, there are now five total cases with two cases each in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat and one in the Municipal District of Taber.

– 126 cases in the Calgary zone
– 43 cases in the Edmonton zone
– 17 cases in the North zone
– Five cases in the South zone
– Four cases in the Central zone

Of these cases, 10 are currently hospitalized, five have been admitted to intensive care units (ICU), and one patient has died. At this time, three have recovered.

The province is also implementing stronger restrictions on visitors to long-term and seniors care facilities. Essential visitors will be restricted to a single individual who can be family, a friend, or paid companion who provides care and necessary companionship for the well-being of the resident.

Exceptions will be made for a person who is dying, in which case only one visitor can enter the facility at a time and each will undergo a health screening.

The government also announced on Friday, as part of it’s actions to respond to COVID-19, amendments to the Emergency Management Act.

Prior to the amendment, a provincial state of emergency nullified a local state of emergency, taking some powers away from the local officials. Under the new act, the government says a provincial state of emergency can now supplement and reinforce a local authority’s state of emergency, allowing both levels of government to work more closely.

The province says it will also be taking the first step in implementing a series of energy sector initiatives aimed at enhancing immediate liquidity – and longer-term certainty – of energy companies.

Measures include funding for the Alberta Energy Regulator levy to the tune of $113 million over a period of six months, granting extensions for oil and gas tenures to provide increased certainty for industry by allowing additional time to raise capital and plan future activities, and extending a loan to the Orphan Well Association in the amount of $100 million.

Lastly, the province announced the membership of the Economic Recovery Council. The council will be tasked with providing insight and expert advice on how to protect jobs during the economic crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent collapse in energy prices. Premier Jason Kenney says members will also focus on strategies for long-term recovery from the crisis, including efforts to accelerate diversification of the Alberta economy.

The Premier’s Economic Recovery Council will consist of the following members:

Jack Mintz, chair
Clive Beddoe – former chair, president and CEO, WestJet
Robert Blakely – Canadian operating officer, Canada’s Building Trades Union
Brent Belzberg – founder and senior managing partner, TorQuest Partners
Bob Dhillon – founder, president and CEO, Mainstreet Equity Corporation
Chris Fowler – president and CEO, Canadian Western Bank
Hon. Stephen Harper – Canada’s 22nd prime minister
Peter Kiss – owner and president, Morgan Construction and Environmental
Zainul Mawji – president, Telus Home Solutions
Nancy Southern – chair and CEO, ATCO Ltd.
Kevin Uebelein – CEO, AIMCo
Mac Van Wielingen – founder, ARC Financial