Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Aug. 22

Both the CBE and CCSD have announced masks will be mandatory when classes resume this fall. Meanwhile, Alberta Health Services has invoked emergency work rules for nurses as COVID hospitalizations rise.

Alberta Health Services invokes emergency work rules for nurses

A person gets the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination. Alberta reported 749 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That's slightly down from Thursday's number of 817, which was the highest daily tally since May 19.  (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • No new numbers will be released by the province this weekend.
  • Alberta reported 749 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That's slightly down from Thursday's number of 817, which was the highest daily tally since May 19. 
  • There were 6,709 active cases across Alberta, an increase of 342 from the previous data update.
  • There were 221 people being treated in hospital for COVID in Alberta. Of those, 48 were in intensive care units.
  • The positivity rate was 8.32 per cent.
  • One more death was reported. There have been a total of 2,343 deaths.
  • The R-value, which represents the number of people infected by each infected person, was 1.25 (with a confidence interval of 1.2-1.31) as of last Monday. 
  • 233,945 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.
  • Alberta Health Services says a woman considered dead for 30 minutes due to a blood clot related to COVID-19 was brought back to life by Calgary physicians using a new device called the Indigo Lightning CAT12, in what they believe was its first use in Canada.
  • A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. On Wednesday, Alberta Health Services said the outbreak consists of 15 staff and physicians who have tested positive, as well as five patients — all of whom were at the hospital for non-COVID health reasons — who acquired COVID-19 while in hospital. 
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, noted on Twitter that 83 per cent of people admitted to regular hospital beds were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
  • Of those in the ICU, 90.7 per cent were unvaccinated and 4.7 per cent were partially vaccinated.
  • Alberta provincial data indicates that, from July 1 to Aug. 9, roughly 69 per cent of the COVID-19 infections were among unvaccinated people, compared with 19 per cent who were partially vaccinated and 12 per cent who were fully vaccinated.
  • Hinshaw has apologized for failing to release public health data used to justify controversial changes in the province's pandemic response that were walked back amid rising case counts.
  • She had planned to share modelling used to shape Alberta's new COVID-19 protocols during an information meeting Wednesday with primary-care providers but apologized, and said the province needed longer than she expected to compile the information.

The latest on restrictions and reopenings:

  • The Alberta government announced last week that COVID-19 public health measures that had been set to expire on Aug. 16 would remain in place for another six weeks until Sept. 27, as new daily cases surged by the hundreds and non-ICU hospitalizations trended higher than expected, including:
    • Mandatory masking orders in publicly accessible transit, taxis and ride-shares. This includes school buses.
    • Mandatory isolation for 10 days for those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result.
    • Testing at assessment centres for any symptomatic individual.
  • As of July 29, the Alberta government made the following changes:
    • Quarantine for close contacts is no longer mandatory but recommended. 
    • Contact tracers no longer notify close contacts. Contact tracers will continue to investigate high-risk settings like continuing care facilities. 
    • Asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended. 
  • The Calgary Board of Education announced Thursday it was reopening registration for its online learning option because of the continued uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic. The school board originally closed registration for CBe-learn on April 23 and didn't plan to allow further registrations.
  • The Calgary Board of Education said Wednesday it would require masks for K-12 students and staff this fall. 
  • The Calgary Catholic School District followed suit on Thursday, and also said masks will need to be worn by K-12 students and staff at the beginning of the school year.
  • At the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge, anyone not fully vaccinated will have to undergo regular rapid testing as of Sept. 1, the schools announced in a joint statement Tuesday morning.
  • The three schools are also requiring mask-wearing in public indoor areas where physical distancing is not possible.
  • Masks will be mandatory in classes, labs and indoor gatherings of 20 or more people when nearly all faculty and staff return this fall to Mount Royal University in Calgary.
  • At Calgary's SAIT campus, masks are required for all indoor spaces effective Aug. 23. Bow Valley College will require masks indoors as of Aug. 19.
  • The United States said Friday it was extending restrictions on non-essential travel at land and ferry border crossings with Canada until Sept. 21.

The latest on vaccines:

  • The Alberta government says it expects to have a decision by next month about whether to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to people with compromised immune systems, after U.S. health officials recommended the extra protection be made available to all Americans.
  • 58.2 per cent of all Albertans are fully vaccinated against COVID, and 65.6 per cent have received at least one dose (or 77.2 per cent of those eligible). 
  • Starting Sept. 7, temporary COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be set up in schools for students in Grades 7 to 12 and for teachers and staff. 
  • Nationally, 72.3 per cent of the total population have received at least one dose. In Ontario, that figure is 72.2 per cent, and in Quebec it's 74.7 per cent.
  • The federal government will soon require that all public servants be vaccinated — a mandate that will also be implemented by Crown corporations and other federally regulated businesses in the coming weeks.
  • Starting soon, all commercial air travellers and passengers on inter-provincial trains and large marine vessels with overnight accommodations (such as cruise ships) will have to be vaccinated. Accommodations will be made for "those few who are unable to be vaccinated," such as testing and screening.

See which regions are being hit hardest:

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

  • Calgary zone: 2,189.
  • Edmonton zone: 2,005.
  • South zone: 912.
  • North zone: 994.
  • Central zone: 587.
  • Unknown: 22.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

With files from The Canadian Press