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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Wednesday, August 19

The Edmonton zone now accounts for more than half the COVID-19 cases in Alberta, according to the latest update from the province. With 631 active cases in the city of Edmonton itself, the entire city is now under a COVID-19 watch.

Entire city of Edmonton is under a COVID-19 watch

Albertans line up for COVID-19 testing in August. (Helen Pike/CBC)

The latest:

  • The entire city of Edmonton is now under a COVID-19 watch, as it has 55.9 cases for every 100,000 people. 
  • More than half the active cases in the province were in the Edmonton zone as of Wednesday — 631 out of a provincial total of 1,107.
  • Alberta reported 82 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday.
  • Two more people have died, man in his 60s from the Central zone and a man in his 70s from the North zone.
  • Amid anxiety and uncertainty about the return to school, the province's chief medical officer of health pointed out for context that Alberta's average rate of new cases is lower than all but three U.S. states.
  • Pharmacies owned by Loblaws, including Shoppers Drug Mart and Superstore, will offer asymptomatic COVID-19 tests at all 234 locations across the province after Sept. 1. 
  • Four Calgary flights are on a list issued by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control for possible COVID-19 exposures.
  • Learn about where you need to wear a mask around the province.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday that the province's daily new  COVID-19 case rates are lower than all U.S. states except New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. Those three states average about 1.5 new cases each day per 100,000. Alberta has averaged about two new cases per 100,000 population per day, compared with average rates of more than 25 new daily cases per 100,000 in Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Hinshaw said the best way to prepare for a safe re-entry to schools is to keep community transmission low.

"Together we can minimize the risk to students and staff in schools and help our children regain this part of their normal educational and social development. For all of us, taking precautions is part of living in the new normal of COVID-19, and as always we are all in this together," she said. 

Thousands of kids have been registered for the Calgary Catholic School District's online school this fall — and the district expects that number could nearly double before registration closes on Friday. 

Some experts say teachers will require new supports when temporary e-learners return to classrooms. "We're going to hear that it's about money but to me it's even more about class size and appropriate support for those teachers so that they can make sure that they and their students are in an environment that is safe and healthy and conducive to quality learning," said Dr. Brittany Martin of the University of Calgary, a specialist in online learning. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic closes some businesses for good on Edmonton's Whyte Avenue — and keeps many storefronts operating at limited capacity —  businesses in the area are grappling with the growing uncertainties of the winter ahead. 

Alberta Health Services is investigating after 15 confirmed cases were linked to the Bible Pentecostal Church in Edmonton. Anyone who attended the church between July 26 and Aug. 12, or who has been in close contact with someone who did, should book a COVID-19 test online and continue to monitor for symptoms, Sherene Khawa, an assistant communications director with the province, said in an email.

On Monday, B.C. health officials issued a public exposure alert for northeast B.C. after 17 people in that region tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a faith-based event in Deadwood, Alta., about 430 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. Another 15 people in Alberta have tested positive. 

(CBC)

CBC News has curated a list of towns and cities in the province, outlining their policies on masks. We'll try to keep it updated regularly.

Here's a regional breakdown of active cases across the province as of Wednesday.

  • Edmonton zone: 631 active cases.
  • Calgary zone: 294 active cases.
  • North zone: 103 active cases.
  • Central zone: 40 active cases.
  • South zone: 33 active cases.
  • Unknown: 6 active cases.
(CBC)

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 8 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 123,154 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 109,357 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 9,080.

Health officials in B.C. confirmed another 83 infections of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, driving the number of active cases to a new high of 775 in that province.

Canada's inflation rate has slowed, increasing by just 0.1 per cent in the year up to July, as lower prices for gasoline and air travel continue to drag the number lower.

On Tuesday, the federal government announced that Chrystia Freeland will become Canada's new finance minister, the first woman to take on the powerful role. Freeland, the former foreign affairs minister, was already also deputy prime minister and intergovernmental affairs minister. 

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services' latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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