16 new COVID-19 deaths were reported by the province on Monday afternoon, including another linked to the Bonnyville Extendicare outbreak.

Alberta Health Services says on February 20th a woman in her 80’s with comorbidities passed away at the facility. Her death marks the 11th fatality in the MD of Bonnyville region, according to online data.

In the Lakeland, the MD of Bonnyville is reporting 31 active cases, the City of Cold Lake has 36 active cases, the County of St. Paul has 31 active cases and Lac La Biche has 13 active cases as of Monday afternoon.

There were 273 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the past 24 hours out of 6,062 tests for a provincial positivity rate of about 4.5 percent.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the R-value in Alberta over the past week has been 1.03 with Edmonton and Calgary falling just below one and the rest of the province tracking at 1.13.

She reminds us that any time the R-value is greater than one, cases are rising.

Hinshaw says we are below the Step Two threshold of hospitalizations but we’ve seen growing cases in recent days.

Because of that, she says no decision on possibly easing more restrictions will be made before March 1 at the earliest, adding an abundance of caution is needed when making such potentially large-scale decisions.

She also says businesses have asked for a week’s notice before Step Two is implemented and that’s something the government will strive to do.