Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, Dec. 15
Albertans began receiving vaccinations today
- Sahra Kaahiye, a respiratory therapist at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, and Tanya Harvey, an intensive care RN at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, became the first in the province to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The province will send COVID-19 care teams to the 11 worst-hit communities — nine in Edmonton and two in Calgary. They'll deliver care packages, provide information in multiple languages and arrange on-the-ground support and safe transportation to COVID-19 assessment facilities.
- The province has set up 16 self-isolation hotels that will provide a free stay and food for 14 days — six in Calgary, nine in Edmonton and one in Peace River. The Calgary hotel has capacity for 791 people, and the Edmonton hotel can accomodate more than 1,300, Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday. Those who self-isolate at the hotels will also be eligible for temporary financial aid in the amount of $625 at the end of their stay.
- Alberta reported 1,341 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the province to 20,649 active cases with a positivity rate of 8.2 per cent.
- 11 more people have died, for a total of 744 deaths.
- There are 742 people in hospital, 137 in ICU.
- The province received 3,900 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine on Dec. 14 and expects to get another 25,350 doses at the start of next week, officials say.
- Alberta plans to administer first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 29,000 health-care workers by the end of December, the province's health minister says.
- Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, says Alberta Health will publicly report the number of people who have been immunized. People will receive a paper document and their immunization history will also be part of their electronic health file.
- Details on the vaccine and Alberta's plans to date can be found here.
- The R-value, or reproduction number, over the past seven days averaged 0.98. An R-value of 1 means an infected person has infected, on average, one other person. If the value is above 1, the spread will continue to grow.
- Sweeping new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 came into effect in Alberta 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, except when working alone in an office or a safely distanced cubicle or a barrier is in place, when in rental accommodations used solely as a private residence or in farm operations. 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.
What you need to know today in Alberta
The first 3,900 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Alberta on Monday night.
And on Tuesday, Sahra Kaahiye, a respiratory therapist at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, and Tanya Harvey, an intensive care RN at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, became the first in the province to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I am grateful to be one of the first health-care workers in Alberta to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. I am from the Somali community and I want to set an example for my community. In Alberta, we have been battling vaccine misinformation for years and uptake is especially challenging in marginalized communities," Kaahiye said in an emailed release.
"The availability of a COVID-19 vaccine is great news for us. It will help us and it will protect us."
Harvey stressed the risk health-care workers present to their families.
"I am the biggest risk to my family and I cannot put my parents, or my husband's parents, at risk. It isn't easy for everyone to understand what it is like on the front lines — it's a blessing that most people aren't in a position to see what front-line workers see on a daily basis," said Harvey.
"As Canadians, we are so privileged to have universal health care, and we need to help each other, and promote health for one another. Please take your responsibility seriously and get your vaccine when your time comes."
The province will send COVID care teams to the 11 worst-hit communities — nine in Edmonton and two in Calgary. They'll deliver care packages and provide information in multiple languages, on-the-ground support and safe transportation to COVID-19 assessment facilities.
The province has also set up 16 self-isolation hotels that will provide a free stay and food for 14 days — six in Calgary, nine in Edmonton and one in Peace River. The Calgary hotel has capacity for 791 people, and the Edmonton hotel can accommodate more than 1,300, Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday.
Those who self-isolate at the hotels will also be eligible for temporary financial aid in the amount of $625 at the end of their stay.
Alberta plans to administer first doses of the vaccine to 29,000 health-care workers by the end of December, the province's health minister says.
The province expects to get another 25,350 doses next week, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Monday.
"I said last week that there was a first glimmer of good news with the expected arrival of the first small shipment of vaccines this week," Shandro said. "Today, I am here to confirm that the news is a lot bigger and it's a lot better."
Alberta reported 1,341 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the province to 20,649 active cases with a positivity rate of 8.2 per cent.
Eleven more people have died, for a total of 744 deaths. There are 742 people in hospital, 137 in ICU.
The R-value, or reproduction number, over the past seven days averaged 0.98.
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.
In Alberta, the number of the so-called vaccine-hesitant is among the highest in the country according to a survey done earlier this month by Ipsos/Radio-Canada.
Albertans and Quebecers are the least likely to get vaccinated at 62 per cent, according to the survey. However, the national average was only slightly higher at 64 per cent.
Albertans and British Columbians were the most likely to say they are concerned about the side effects or risks associated with vaccine.
Albertans led the country at 34 per cent who believe COVID-19 can be beaten without a vaccine.
One-in-five Albertans said they are generally opposed to vaccination, whether against COVID-19 or other illnesses.
The Angus Reid Institute, another polling firm, has said the reason behind some vaccine hesitancy is related to concerns over safety— short and long-term side effects from a biological agent that was developed in less than a year.
Calgary's mandatory mask bylaw will remain in force until December 2021, unless it's repealed sooner. The bylaw was first introduced in July.
Calgary City Council voted to extend the possible deadline for the temporary bylaw at the same time as approving an increase in fines — from $50 for a first offence to $100. A second offence would cost $200 and third and subsequent violations would result in tickets of $300.
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:
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.
Hinshaw 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.
After losing a significant amount of inventory to COVID-19 restrictions, a Calgary restaurant found a way to circumvent food waste this time around.
The staff at Eggs Oasis spent their Sunday giving away 500 free pick-up breakfasts that were prepared with the excess inventory they would have lost when dine-in service came to a halt on Sunday.
And according to owner Noor Sadid, it was a means of preventing history from repeating itself — for a third time.
"The first time this COVID thing happened, it was very sad. We lost quite a significant amount of inventory," Noor said.
This time around, Noor had an idea.
"I said, 'No way are we going to lose our inventory. We're going to give back to our community who supported us for all these years.'"
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.
Here is the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Tuesday:
- Calgary zone: 7,331, down from 7,379 reported on Monday (25,097 recovered).
- Edmonton zone: 9,946, down from 10,194 (25,288 recovered).
- North zone: 1,250, down from 1,287 (4,232 recovered).
- South zone: 553, down from 583 (3,989 recovered).
- Central zone: 1,496, down from 1,594 (3,189 recovered).
- Unknown: 73, down from 86 (139 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 7:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 468,862, with 75,842 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 13,553.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that the promising COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Massachusetts-based Moderna will be available in Canada by the end of the month if the shot secures the necessary regulatory approvals.
Health Canada regulators are in the final stages of the review process for this vaccine. A final decision on authorization could come as early as this week.
If it's approved, Trudeau said, Canada will receive up to 168,000 doses of the two-dose Moderna vaccine before the end of December. Trudeau said deliveries are slated to begin within 48 hours of Health Canada's authorization.
"As with the early shipments of the Pfizer vaccine, this moves us even further forward on getting Canadians protected as quickly as possible," Trudeau said.
Canadian women say they have performed most of the parental tasks in their household during the pandemic, according to a new survey by Statistics Canada.
However, the survey also showed that men reported that the majority of those tasks — such as staying home with the children or taking them to and from school and daycare — were split equally.
Fifty-one per cent of women surveyed reported that they were largely responsible for staying at home with the children while 51 per cent of men said the responsibility was shared equally by both parents.
Similarly, 55 per cent of women reported mostly being responsible for taking the children to and from school but 60 per cent of men said the task was equally divided between parents.
Quebec's premier is expected to announce new public health restrictions on Tuesday, a day after the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine given in Canada were rolled out in the two hardest-hit provinces in the country.
François Legault told Radio-Canada on Monday that "we're going to have to tighten restrictions on businesses."
"We will have to close them for a time," he said. "There are too many contacts, and we have to reduce them."
Ontario and Quebec both launched their COVID-19 vaccination efforts on Monday.
Both of the hard-hit provinces have seen COVID-19 hospitalizations climb in recent weeks. As of Monday, Quebec had 890 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 122 in intensive care units. Ontario, meanwhile, had 857 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 244 in intensive care units.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said Monday that the first COVID-19 vaccines in that province would be given in two locations — Vancouver and the Fraser Health region.
"This is momentous news," she said, adding that by next week officials expect to have vaccine available in every health authority across the province.
B.C. on Monday reported 2,146 new cases of COVID-19 over a three-day period, with 49 deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 359, with 87 people in intensive care.
Saskatchewan introduced new public health restrictions on Monday as it tries to slow the spread of COVID-19, including strict new rules around private indoor gatherings. As of Thursday, most people in the province will only be allowed to gather inside with members of their own household (with some exceptions, including for single people and co-parenting).
Manitoba has been under tight restrictions for some time now and COVID-19 rates there have been trending down. Health officials in that province reported nine additional deaths and 241 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin again urged people to follow the rules and celebrate virtually over the holidays.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported five new cases of COVID-19, while New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador both reported one new case. There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island.
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.
A clinical allergist answers key questions about the vaccine:
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.