Alberta officials fail to give public update following COVID-19 cabinet committee meeting

Alberta's COVID-19 cabinet committee met on Thursday as the province added more than 1,300 new cases and hospitalizations nearly reached 500.

It's unclear what the committee discussed or whether the government will introduce new restrictions. Premier Jason Kenney, who has not been seen publicly or taken questions from reporters since Aug. 9, appeared on a Facebook Live Wednesday night, where he said officials would give a COVID-19 update this week.

On Facebook Live, journalists are unable to challenge the premier's statements, and a communications expert explained to CTV News it's a controlled environment where his staff can screen the public's questions.

"The questions might not be any easier on Facebook Live, but it does give them an opportunity to select the hard questions that they are the most prepared for," said Chris Henderson from Y Station Communications and Research.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro has not held a press conference since late July, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw last spoke with reporters on Aug. 13.

Even when there are press conferences, reporters are limited to a question and a follow-up — a pandemic practice that began when journalists could only asks questions on the phone, but stayed when in-person availabilities returned.

It's also now commonplace to receive a written statement when CTV News asks for an on-camera interview with government MLAs.

On Thursday, CTV News requested interviews with all 25 ministers and associate ministers in Kenney's cabinet. It received response from four of their press secretaries but none agreed to an interview.