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Alberta announces 426 new cases of COVID-19, two new deaths

Last Updated Aug 31, 2020 at 6:16 pm MDT

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – The province is reporting 426 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta in the past 72 hours.

Additionally, two Albertans, a man in his 80s from the Edmonton Zone and a man in his 90s from the North zone in Homesteader Lodge, have died as a result of the virus.

That brings the total amount of deaths to 239.

There are 44 Albertans in hospital and eight in ICU.

A total of 1,370 cases remain active, an increase of 185 from the last release.

However, 12,293 Albertans have recovered from the virus.

More outbreaks have been identified throughout the province.

In the Calgary Kidanemhret Ethiopian Orthodox church, 57 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.

At an Edmonton Walmart Supercentre, eight staff members contracted the virus, however, Hinshaw says they’re not sure if they came into contact with the virus at work.

Lillydale in Calgary has 24 cases with three recovered, Cargill has one active case with six recovered, and the Harmony Meat Plant has 66 active cases with three recovered.

Hinshaw says the outbreaks are being handled with help from Public Health.

“Our goal is to keep daily case numbers low, avoid outbreaks and manage them carefully when they occur.”

In response to the confusion regarding seemingly new distancing guidelines in classrooms over the weekend, Hinshaw says there is no change to the policy.

“I am very sorry for the anxiety and confusion hat this order has sparked.”

The order was not meant to hide information, but to be transparent and ensure school authorities are aware.

READ MORE: Alberta drops two-metre requirement as kids get ready for back to school

Masks are still mandatory for students from Grade four to 12 and for all school staff.

However, the order says students in classrooms where two metres of space is not possible and desks are not facing each other are not required to wear masks.

“Physical distancing of two metres spacing whenever possible is a useful public health measure to help prevent the spread of disease.”

Hinshaw says that the distance in addition to masks can make it hard to communicate in a learning setting.

“The intention is to allow students a break from mask-wearing in the classroom when they are seated and not facing each other and desks are spaced as widely apart as possible,” said Hinshaw.

“This is not new.”

She says that they have always stated that masks are not required in such settings.

In the future, she says she will release information that could be misunderstood during the week on her social media to avoid confusion.