The province has provided its latest COVID-19 update. 
 
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, returned to the podium Thursday (Sept.16) along with Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Virna Yiu to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in the province. 
 
Hinshaw explained she would be going back to providing live COVID-19 updates twice a week due to the state of public health emergency issued Wednesday night. 
 
She also clarified some new rules under the province's new restriction exemption program. People requiring a negative COVID-19 test to attend businesses instead of showing proof of vaccination will need to get their tests completed privately as Alberta Health Services tests are just for those showing symptoms. 
 
Dr. Yiu provided an update on the situation in Alberta Hospitals; according to Yiu, the province has reached out to other regions for assistance and patients could be transferred as far as Ontario for treatment. 
 
“Our goal right now is to open as many critical care spaces as we can, safely staffed, and create as much space that we need anticipating the numbers that are coming ahead,” Yiu explained. 
 
“We have asked our teams to identify and open any spaces that can be used as an ICU bed. This includes spaces such as operating rooms, post-anaesthesia care units, observation spaces, and recovery wards. This means that patients needing critical care may receive it in a space that is not usually used for ICU.” 
  
1,718 new cases of the virus were reported in the province on Thursday. 
  
Currently, there are 18,706 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta; 896 people are in the hospital, and 222 are in intensive care. 
  
The province also reported 10 new deaths Thursday. A total of 2,505 Albertans have now passed away from COVID-19. 
  
Local update 
  
The first number is the active case count on Wednesday (Sept.15) for the area, and the second is the updated total as of Thursday: 
- Fort Saskatchewan: 119 cases - 117 cases 
- Sherwood Park: 254 cases - 258 cases 
- Strathcona County: 108 cases - 110 cases 
- Sturgeon County: 131 cases - 135 cases 
- Morinville: 55 cases - 58 cases 
- Lamont County: 52 cases – 53 cases 
   
Vaccinations 
  
The total per cent of people fully immunized with the vaccine as of Thursday: 
- Fort Saskatchewan: 59.9 per cent 
- Sherwood Park: 71 per cent 
- Strathcona County: 64.1 per cent 
- Sturgeon County West (including Morinville): 56.4 per cent 
- Sturgeon County East: 56.3 per cent 
- Lamont County: 53.6 per cent 
  
5.68-million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the province; 79.6 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose, while 71.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.