COVID-19 Update for April 8, 2020 – 9:30am
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney delivered a televised address to the province last night, which included outlining projections for COVID-19. The Premier spoke to three challenges facing the province: the pandemic, the shutdown of the economy and the collapse of oil prices.
The Premier outlined the government’s projections for COVID-19, focusing on two scenarios: the “probable” scenario and an “elevated” but less likely scenario.
- Under the probable scenario, Alberta will peak with infections in mid-May. Up to 800,000 may test positive, and there could be between 400 and 3,100 deaths.
- Under the elevated scenario, Alberta will face more than 1 million positive tests and between 500 and 6,600 deaths.
- The Premier also briefly spoke to address those who want the virus to “run its course” and stop with isolation: that scenario would result in more than 1.6 million infections and up to 32,000 deaths (640 per day).
- Currently, per capita, Alberta currently has the second-highest rate after Québec. However, the rate of Albertans hospitalized and in intensive care is lower than other large provinces.
The Premier stated that public health orders will likely be in place until the end of May, after the projected “peak” of the virus has passed. He outlined a five-point recovery plan on how to gradually restore the economy given the escalating economic challenges facing the province.
He stated that the five-point plan was drawn from best practices in countries like Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea that have been able to keep most of their economies functioning with low spread of the virus:
- Aggressive system of mass testing;
- More precise tracking of close contacts of those infected;
- Strong border screening, including a “much more rigorous approach than the federal government has in screening and quarantining international arrivals;”
- Strictly enforced quarantine; and
- Encouraging the use of masks in crowded areas like mass transit.
The Premier also spoke to the energy challenges facing the province and noted it was likely that oil prices will fall lower than $3 per barrel and into negative pricing. Premier Kenney warned of a long and deep downturn.
He also spoke to work that was ongoing to establish “North American energy independence” and reminded Albertans of last week’s announcement on Keystone XL. One week ago, the Premier announced that after six months of discussions, the province is making a $1.5 billion equity investment in TC Energy’s long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, followed by a $6 billion loan guarantee for the project. when completed, Keystone XL will provide 830,000 barrels per day takeaway capacity, increasing the value of Alberta crude.