Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Dec. 13
New provincial restrictions came into effect at 12 a.m. on Sunday
- Alberta reported its deadliest day of the pandemic on Sunday, with 22 more deaths for a total of 719. The previous deadliest day, with 20 deaths, was on Nov. 16.
- Alberta reported 1,717 new cases on Sunday, for a total of 20,562 active cases, and a 7.9 per cent positivity rate.
- There are 681 people in hospital, 136 in ICUs.
- The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are set to arrive in Canada Sunday night, setting in motion the country-wide immunization program.
- Sweeping new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 came into effect on Sunday at 12 a.m., and are expected to be in place for at least four weeks.
- Retail services and malls must now reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
- Restaurants, pubs and bars will be closed to in-person service. Takeout, delivery and curbside pickup are still allowed.
- Hair salons, nail salons, casinos, bowling alleys, gyms, movie theatres, libraries and museums will be closed starting on Sunday.
- Places of worship are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
- All employees are now required to work from home unless their employer determines they need to be at work in person.
- Indoor and outdoor social gatherings remain prohibited. People who live alone are limited to up to two close contacts for in-person visits.
- Masks are mandatory across the province in all indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home. Alberta had been the only province without a mask mandate until late November.
- A full list of the new restrictions is available on the province's website.
- Alberta will triple its small and medium enterprise grants to $20,000, while lowering the eligibility criteria to 30 per cent of revenues lost retroactive to March.
- At least a dozen new employee-related cases have been reported by three companies that run grocery store and pharmacy chains in Alberta — Loblaw Companies Ltd., Sobeys Inc. and Co-op — since Dec. 9. The stores are reporting cases on their websites.
- An Alberta pilot project that tested international travellers found a low COVID-19 infection rate of 1.4 per cent.
- As rising COVID-19 cases put pressure on Alberta's health-care system, up to 60 per cent of Edmonton-area surgeries will be delayed and diagnostic imaging and other clinical support services will be reduced by as much as 40 per cent.
- Alberta health-care workers on the front lines will be the first in the province to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
- Starting next week, 3,900 doses will go to ICU doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists and long-term care workers in a bid to keep both the workers and those under their care safe.
- Details on the vaccine and Alberta's plans to date can be found here.
- Military reservists are preparing for possible deployment in the Prairies as COVID-19 rates soar.
- An internal Alberta government document, obtained by CBC News, shows the province has been planning for more than a week to set up indoor field hospitals to treat 750 COVID patients.
- As of Saturday, Calgary had more than 7,200 active cases and Edmonton had more than 9,700.
What you need to know today in Alberta
Alberta saw its deadliest day of the pandemic on Sunday, with 22 new deaths reported for a total of 719. The previous deadliest day was Nov. 16, when 20 deaths were reported.
Alberta reported 1,717 new cases on Sunday, for a total of 20,562 active cases, and a 7.9 per cent positivity rate. There are 681 people in hospital, 136 in ICUs.
Sweeping new restrictions intended to curb the surge of COVID-19 in the province took affect at 12 a.m. on Sunday. They will remain in place at least for four weeks — through Christmas and New Year's:
- Retail services and malls must reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
- Restaurants, pubs and bars are closed to in-person service. Takeout, delivery and curbside pickup are allowed.
- Hair salons, nail salons, casinos, bowling alleys, gyms, movie theatres, libraries and museums will be closed.
- Places of worship are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
- All employees are required to work from home unless their employer determines they need to be at work in person.
- A full list of new measures is available on the province's website.
On Dec. 8, Alberta announced the new restrictions — the strictest of the entire pandemic — in an effort to slow the surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the province.
"If you gathered everyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 together, it would be the fifth largest city in Alberta," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health.
"Every case is a person.… We are all at risk of COVID-19, we are all impacted by the toll it is taking on our health system."
Hinshaw said on Dec. 9 that it's important to follow the spirit of the restrictions if a situation is unclear, rather than working to find loopholes.
"If you are unsure about what to do, please err on the side of caution and make the safest choice," she said.
In addition to the restrictions that came into affect on Sunday, indoor and outdoor social gatherings are also prohibited. People who live alone are limited to up to two close contacts for in-person visits. Masks are mandatory across the province in all indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home. Until November, Alberta had been the only province without a mask mandate.
Hinshaw said the target of the new restrictions is not to reach zero COVID-19 cases, something other jurisdictions have aimed for, but to no longer have the health-care system be at risk.
"These are decisions that we have arrived at not as a first resort but as a last resort, to protect lives and to preserve our health-care system," Premier Jason Kenney said.
Alberta released a new ad campaign on Friday featuring a man intended to represent the COVID-19 virus at a party and at a holiday gathering.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the ads were intended to urge Albertans to not socially gather over the holidays.
"Our goal is to get people's attention, to help them see common situations from a different perspective, and as a result to influence their behaviour," Hinshaw said at a news conference.
"The campaign uses humour because the situation is serious and we need to use every tool at our disposal to reach all Albertans."
The number of positive COVID-19 tests in a pilot project for international travellers at the Calgary airport and a United States border crossing in southern Alberta has been reasonably low after its first six weeks.
The program offers Canadians the option of getting a test when they arrive. They must then self-isolate for 24 to 48 hours while they wait for the results.
If the results are negative, they can leave quarantine, but must monitor for symptoms daily and get a second swab within six to seven days of their arrival date.
As of Thursday, the province said 14,382 travellers had taken tests. About 1.4 per cent were positive with the initial swab. After the second test, the infection rate was 0.7 per cent.
The project is scheduled to last six months, or until 52,000 passengers have gone through the process. There are also plans to expand it next year.
The province plans to postpone many surgical procedures in the Edmonton area.
Hinshaw said on Tuesday that up to 60 per cent of non-urgent scheduled surgeries that require a hospital stay will be postponed in the Edmonton zone.
Diagnostic imaging and other clinical support services will be reduced by as much as 40 per cent, and ambulatory visits and procedures by as much as 70 per cent, according to Alberta Health Services.
"These will help ensure there is space to care for the critically ill patients who require care, both now and in the coming weeks," Hinshaw said.
Front-line health-care workers will receive the first 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine starting Dec. 16. The ICU doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists and long-term care staff will need to visit the vaccine delivery sites in Edmonton and Calgary to receive their first and second doses, which are given approximately one month apart.
"This early distribution is an important step in our continued fight against COVID-19 but we can't take our foot off the gas," Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Tuesday, adding that it will be months before the majority of the population can be immunized.
The news comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday morning that up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine would be available in Canada before the end of the year.
A new poll suggests that most people in most provinces feel their governments have done a good job dealing with the pandemic. Just not in Alberta or Manitoba.
The poll released Thursday by the Angus Reid Institute found that 57 per cent of respondents believe Jason Kenney's government has done a poor job in its response to the COVID-19 emergency, while 41 per cent think it's done a good job for Albertans.
Brian Pallister's government in Manitoba fared even worse in the poll, with 67 per cent saying that province has done a poor job and just 31 per cent saying a good job has been done.
By comparison, respondents in Quebec rated their government's pandemic response 62 per cent good to 36 per cent poor. In Ontario, sentiment is more evenly split, 55 per cent good to 44 per cent poor.
Business owners and employees across Calgary are digesting the impacts of Alberta's widespread new restrictions. Ernie Tsu, a board member with the Alberta Hospitality Association and owner of Trolley 5 pub, said the measures are a hard hit to restaurants and bars right before the holidays.
"It's going to be very tough for us to have to look at our staff, as we have to lay off coming around the corner here. Christmas is usually the best season for every restaurant and local pub," Tsu said.
Solo Diallo, co-owner of Mumbai Dakar in Edmonton, said he worries whether his restaurant will survive, but still supports the new measures.
"We'll just try to outlast and then we'll see how far we can go," he told CBC's Edmonton AM on Wednesday.
Alberta is expanding its small and medium business relaunch grant, to make up to 15,000 more businesses eligible for funding. Businesses can now receive 15 per cent of pre-pandemic monthly revenues up to a maximum of $15,000.
The program is also lowering its threshold from businesses who experienced 40 per cent revenue loss to 30 per cent revenue loss, retroactive to March.
Additional business supports are available through the federal government.
Enforcement against those flouting public health regulations has increased in Calgary. Since the city's mask bylaw went into effect at the beginning of August, 21 tickets have been issued, six of those since Dec. 2, "including those resulting from organized gatherings or protests that continue to be investigated," according to a city news release issued late Thursday.
Calgary police and bylaw officers say they've issued a total of 18 tickets for violations against the Alberta Public Health Act since Nov. 24 — seven of those since Monday.
Click on the map below to zoom in or out on specific local geographic areas in Alberta and find out more about COVID-19 there:
Here is the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Sunday:
- Calgary zone: 7,268, up from 7,127 reported on Saturday (24,042 recovered).
- Edmonton zone: 9,778, up from 9,548 (23,884 recovered).
- North zone: 1,289, up from 1,236 (3,968 recovered).
- South zone: 572, down from 589 (3,889 recovered).
- Central zone: 1,589, up from 1,522 (2,903 recovered).
- Unknown: 66, up from 50 (132 recovered).
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 Sunday morning, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 456,530, with 73,012 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 13,366.
The federal government awarded a $371-million contract to secure personal protective equipment — one of the largest medical supply deals in its history — to a small company headquartered in a house in suburban Ottawa that had no apparent prior experience in PPE procurement.
Public health officials are urging Canadians to dramatically limit their contacts with other people as the country continues on a "rapid growth trajectory" for COVID-19 cases and the holiday season nears.
This week's approval of a COVID-19 vaccine and a rollout plan unfolding has given optimism to many Canadians there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Releasing new modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said if Canadians maintain their current contact levels, more than 12,000 new cases would be recorded daily by January.
If people increase their level of contacts, that number could surge to more than 30,000 cases daily by January, according to the modelling sheets.
In British Columbia, a senior on Vancouver Island said she was kicked off a COVID-19 subsidy after going just $4 over the qualification threshold.
Sheila Chaisson, a 67-year-old from Courtenay, said she "can't afford to go out and buy anything" after losing out on the monthly $300 relief, adding: "I've really had to stretch to afford masks and sanitizer and all the things I need through the pandemic."
Saskatchewan saw 274 new COVID-19 cases and a record 11 additional deaths on Saturday.
Health Minister Paul Merriman said residents will have to wait until next week to learn what public health orders will be in place over the holidays. He said the Saskatchewan Party government is ultimately responsible for any decisions made, but it works with the chief medical health officer, who presents them with recommendations.
Manitoba reported 360 new cases and 18 more deaths.
Of the deaths reported Saturday, eight are linked to outbreaks at personal care homes in Winnipeg, including three at Charleswood Care Centre, two at Oakview Place and three at Park Manor Care Home.
Ontario's health minister on Saturday reported 1,873 new cases, with a record 65,300 tests completed. The province also reported 17 additional deaths.
Quebec recorded 1,898 new cases and 40 more deaths.
New Brunswick reported one new case as the Edmundston region entered its first day in the orange phase of restrictions since the early days of the pandemic.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases, of which two are travel-related.
Self-assessment and supports:
With winter cold and influenza season approaching, Alberta Health Services will prioritize Albertans for testing who have symptoms, and those groups which are at higher risk of getting or spreading the virus.
General asymptomatic testing is currently unavailable for people with no known exposure to COVID-19.
Those who test positive will be asked to use the online COVID-19 contact tracing tool, so that their close contacts can be notified by text message.
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.
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.