What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Friday, August 28

Alberta is on track to end the current fiscal year with a $24.2-billion deficit, the largest in the province's history, we learned in Thursday's fiscal update. And it shows just how much the plight of the oilpatch is leaving a giant hole in the budget.

Alberta on track for record-shattering $24.2B deficit due to pandemic, oil price slump

Any student, teacher or staff member who develops symptoms at home will not be able to go to school, says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health. (Halfpoint/Shutterstock)

The latest:

  • Alberta is on track to end the current fiscal year with a $24.2-billion deficit, the largest in the province's history, and the finance minister suggests more cuts are on the way. The report reflects Alberta's financial situation in April, May and June, a period when the province was mostly shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and oil prices sunk into negative territory.
  • Alberta reported no new COVID-19 deaths on Friday and 158 new cases of the respiratory illness.
  • As of Friday, a total of 1,185 active cases were reported across the province, an increase of 27 from the day before.
  • The city of Edmonton is no longer under a COVID-19 watch.
  • The total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in Alberta now stands at 237.
  • Across the province, 44 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, including seven who are in ICU beds.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED: Don't worry if you missed your chance to ask questions in our Facebook Live at 1 p.m. Wednesday with host Shannon Scott and guests Marilyn Dennis, chair of the board of trustees for the Calgary Board of Education, and Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, an urgent care doctor working in downtown Calgary. You can still hear their answers by clicking here.


What you need to know today in Alberta:

Alberta is on track to end the current fiscal year with a $24.2-billion deficit, the largest in the province's history, it was announced in Thursday's fiscal update. And it shows just how much the plight of the oilpatch is leaving a giant hole in the budget.

Revenue from the oilpatch is expected to be $1.2 billion this year, down from the $3.9 billion forecast and a far cry from better days in the sector, such as 2014-15, when those revenues were $8.9 billion.

Alberta's current back-to-school plan should be considered an important first step that could be subject to changes if necessary, says the province's chief medical officer of health.

Once students and teachers return to classrooms, it will be critical to closely watch, evaluate and monitor the impact, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

"It is entirely possible we could have a school that does need to be closed if we spread. That is possible."

CBC News is following four families as they navigate the return to school in the midst of the global pandemic, tracing how the reopening impacts them before and during the return. Here's the first instalment: Getting ready for school.

As we draw closer to the first week of September, CBC Calgary wants to hear from Alberta's parents, students and teachers in regards to how the process has gone so far.

Across Alberta, mask use is required for staff and students from Grade 4 to Grade 12. In Calgary's public system and within the Catholic school system, mask use will be required for all students and staff from Kindergarten on. 

The Calgary Board of Education has has released its mask guidelines that dictate where and when masks must be worn in schools.

There are plenty of other questions parents might have about the return to school. For that, we've created this guide, which we'll update frequently in the coming weeks.

The province has posted a guide detailing how it will respond to any students or staff who have symptoms in schools, and what protocols will be followed if COVID-19 cases are identified in classrooms.

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 the regional breakdown of active cases across the province as of Friday:

  • Edmonton zone: 544 active cases.
  • Calgary zone: 435 active cases.
  • North zone: 154 active cases.
  • Central zone: 21 active cases.
  • South zone: 23 active cases.
  • Unknown: 8 active cases.

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


What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 2 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 127,006 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 112,911 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 9,138.

Canada's economy shrank at the fastest pace on record in the second quarter, as consumer spending, business investment, imports and exports all dried up because of COVID-19.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that the country's gross domestic product shrank by 11.5 per cent in the three-month period between April and June. That's a 38.7 per cent pace of contraction for the year as a whole, far and away the steepest and fastest decline dating back to 1961. 

Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says officials are looking into whether it's practical to test people for COVID-19 when they enter Canada instead of requiring them to quarantine.

WestJet is going to remove unmasked passengers from flights and ban them for a year under a new policy.

The airline says it will go as far as booting passengers off flights who consistently refuse to wear a mask or face covering while on board. 

A new international public opinion survey suggests Canadians believe the COVID-19 crisis has brought their country together, while Americans blame the pandemic for worsening their cultural and political divide.

Fully two-thirds of Canadian respondents to the Pew Research Center study released Thursday say they believe Canada is more united as a result of the coronavirus, while 77 per cent of U.S. participants feel precisely the opposite is true south of the border.

Fears of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in Ontario after bars and other indoor spaces were reopened have not panned out — at least so far.

Four weeks ago as of today, Toronto and Peel Region joined the rest of Ontario (with the exception of Windsor-Essex) in Stage 3 of the province's pandemic reopening plan. That means 97 per cent of Ontario's population has been living under looser restrictions for at least four weeks, enough time for trends in new coronavirus infections to emerge.  

Despite that, the provincial average number of daily new cases has increased only slightly since early August, when the trend line hit its lowest point in months.

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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