Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Friday, April 16

As COVID-19 cases spiral higher in Alberta, thousands of vaccination appointments go unused and more schools switch to online learning, health officials once again plead with eligible Albertans to get a vaccine as soon as possible, regardless of type.

Thousands of vaccination appointments go unused as health officials beg Albertans to get vaccinated

The mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, shown here, has faced low appointment numbers as has the mass clinic at the Edmonton Expo Centre. The latter can administer 7,000 AstraZeneca shots per day, but did 280 on Wednesday. (Submitted by Calgary Telus Convention Centre)

The latest COVID-19 numbers and restrictions:

  • Alberta reported 1,616 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as the province's third wave approaches the height of its second wave in December.
  • Alberta's total active cases now sit at 16,759 on Friday, up 536 from Thursday.
  • Nearly half the cases are in Calgary, while a quarter are in Edmonton.
  • To date, 149,000 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.
  • The more dangerous and highly transmissible variant cases continue to surge and are now the dominant strains of the virus in Alberta, accounting for 53.5 per cent of total active cases.

(Note the latest daily count of new cases in the above chart will usually vary slightly from the net new cases Alberta Health announces each day. For more on why, click here.)

  • There were 423 people in hospital, 93 of whom are in intensive care. There were no new deaths reported, leaving the total of deaths in the province at 2,034.
  • The provincial positivity rate is 9.1 per cent, and the R-value is 1.12, meaning that, on average, each person with COVID-19 will infect more than one other person.
  • This week, Calgary public and Catholic schools said they were shifting all Grades 7 to 12 students to online learning on Monday due to a large increase in COVID-19 cases among students in that age group. 
  • Officials said Thursday that education leaders in Edmonton were considering following Calgary's lead.
  • Also effective next Monday, all extracurricular youth sport, recreational and performance activities in Calgary must either take place outdoors or be paused for two weeks. The pause applies to all Calgary youth in Grades 7–12, including home-schooled students.
  • As of Thursday, there were alerts or outbreaks at 478 schools, which represents 20 per cent of all schools in Alberta, with 2,772 cases in total.

Hinshaw says AstraZeneca vaccine benefits outweigh risks

3 years ago
Duration 1:21
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, spoke at length Thursday about the importance of vaccination, which she says trumps the rare risks associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The latest on vaccines:

  • On Thursday, Alberta health officials once again urged eligible Albertans to get a vaccine as soon as possible, regardless of type — as mass AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccination clinics immunize thousands fewer people a day than they could.
  • Phase 2 of the AstraZeneca-Oxford rollout began April 6, to Albertans born from 1957 to 1966 who do not have chronic underlying health conditions, through hundreds of pharmacies and mass vaccination clinics in Edmonton and Calgary.  
  • The mass clinic at the Edmonton Expo Centre can administer 7,000 AstraZeneca shots per day, but did 280 on Wednesday, while the mass clinic at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre has also faced low appointment numbers.
  • Alberta officials say part of the issue is hesitancy brought on by reports of extremely rare blood clots occurring in people who have received AstraZeneca, also known as Covishield.
Alberta Health Services launched Phase 2C of the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines on Monday, expanding to include 240,000 nurses, doctors, dentists and any health-care workers in patient care facilities or providing direct patient care in the community. (Alberta Health Services)
  • The risk of a blood clot is exponentially higher for people who become infected with COVID-19 than for those who receive AstraZeneca, Hinshaw stressed again on Thursday.
  • About one in four people hospitalized with COVID-19 get blood clots, she said, while Alberta has seen no cases of a blood clot associated with the 85,500 AstraZeneca doses given out. 
  • It is far more likely to experience blood clots from smoking, falls/injuries and other common everyday occurrences, Alberta Health Services said.
  • Conversely, AstraZeneca's first dose reduces infection by 60 to 70 per cent and, importantly, hospitalization and risk of death is reduced by 80 per cent. 
  • Starting Saturday, AHS will accept walk-ins for the AstraZeneca vaccine at the existing rapid flow clinic at the Edmonton EXPO Centre and at the Southport clinic in Calgary.
  • Phase 2C of the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines began on Monday, expanding to include 240,000 nurses, doctors, dentists and any health-care workers in patient care facilities or providing direct patient care in the community.
  • Other groups in 2C, like residents and support staff at congregate living facilities at risk for large outbreaks like correctional facilities, homeless shelters, meat-packing plants and group homes, and caregivers of Albertans at risk of severe outcomes, are expected to begin in the following weeks. 
  • Alberta had delivered 1,043,570 vaccine doses and fully immunized 202,841 people with two doses of vaccine as of Thursday.

Mayor Nenshi received his COVID-19 vaccine

3 years ago
Duration 0:24
Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi rolled up his sleeve at the Telus Convention Centre's mass vaccination clinic last night.

The latest on more dangerous variants:

  • There were 898 new cases involving variants of concern on Friday.
  • There are more than 8,967 active variant cases, which comprise more than 53.5 per cent of all active cases.
  • 5,834 people have recovered and 49 people have died from variant infections.
  • As of Friday, Alberta had had 14,667 cases linked to variant B117, first detected in the United Kingdom. Another 30 cases have been linked to variant B1351, first detected in South Africa, and 153 cases have been linked to variant P1, which is now spreading widely in Brazil.

The latest on restrictions and reopenings:

  • Amid the surging COVID-19 and variant cases, on April 6 the Alberta government reimposed Step 1 restrictions, including closing restaurants and bars to in-person dining, lowering retail store capacity to 15 per cent and banning low-intensity group fitness activities.
  • Hinshaw warned this week that if case and hospitalization growth does not slow soon, further public health measures may be required. 
  • However, government officials say they are optimistic that outdoor festivals and events such as the Calgary Stampede will go ahead this summer.

See which regions are being hit hardest:

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as reported Friday by the province:

  • Calgary zone: 7,453, up from 7,329 reported on Thursday (58,106 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 4,388, up from 4,201 (56,611 recovered).
  • North zone: 2,285, up from 2,174 (14,353 recovered).
  • South zone: 928, down from 930, (8,203 recovered).
  • Central zone: 1,629, up from 1,515 (11,592 recovered).
  • Unknown: 76, up from 74 (29 recovered).

You can see active cases by local health area on the following interactive map. Scroll, zoom and click on the map for more information:

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

How Alberta compares to other provinces and territories:

  • For the latest on what's happening in the rest of Canada and around the world, see here.