Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday, Dec. 21

Alberta reported 1,240 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, along with nine additional deaths from the virus, bringing the total number of people in the province who have died of COVID-19 to 860.

Calgary judge refuses to grant stay in legal challenge of Alberta's COVID-19 restrictions

A nurse gives the first COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, to Sahra Kaahiye in Edmonton on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • Alberta reported nine more COVID-19 deaths and 1,240 new cases on Monday.
  • That brings the total number of active cases in the province to 19,165.
  • The testing positivity rate is 6.8 per cent, the lowest it has been after weeks above 9 per cent. 
  • However, hospitalization numbers continue to increase, with 795 people in hospital, including 151 in intensive care.
  • Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld warned Monday there's a time and place to debate the legitimacy of laws and punishments, but not when police are enforcing them. 
  • Neufeld was alluding to an incident caught on video last Thursday that showed officers arresting a 21-year-old man at an outdoor skating rink in Calgary for allegedly violating a public health order and resisting arrest. 
  • There were also two arrests at an anti-mask, anti-restrictions protest in front of Calgary City Hall. 
  • Provincial health orders bar outside gatherings. Those in violation can be hit with tickets that start at $1,000. Calgary's mask bylaw carries fines starting at $100.
  • Alberta Health Services has placed the Peter Lougheed Centre's emergency department under COVID-19 outbreak status after 12 staff members tested positive.
  • A Calgary judge has rejected an emergency application seeking a stay of Alberta's COVID-19 public health restrictions, including bans on gatherings and mandatory masks. A Calgary law firm and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms appeared in court Monday morning to make an application for an emergency injunction staying Alberta's public health restrictions alleging they violate constitutionally guaranteed rights. 
  • Travellers from the U.K. arriving in Alberta are being 'strongly encouraged' to get COVID-19 test in view of the new, potentially more contagious strain of the coronavirus spreading in that country.
  • Alberta is expanding rapid testing for COVID-19 to long-term care facilities and rural hospitals, Shandro announced Thursday.
  • 448 schools, about 19 per cent of the provincial total, are on alert or have outbreaks, with 1,992 total cases.
  • A COVID outbreak has been declared at the Nakiska ski resort. AHS says all 15 cases were active as of Monday, but the resort says 11 have recovered. 
  • Alberta plans to administer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 29,000 health-care workers by the end of December, the province has said. 
  • During the first quarter of 2021, Hinshaw said Wednesday, the vaccine will be given to long-term care residents, staff who work in long-term care and designated supportive living centres, health-care workers in the highest risk areas of hospitals and people over the age of 75. 

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Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says that the new vaccination against COVID-19 is safe and it works.

What you need to know today in Alberta

Alberta reported the lowest testing positivity rate it has seen in weeks on Monday, at 6.8 per cent. However, hospitalizations continue to increase with 795 people in hospital, including 151 in intensive care.

The province reported nine more COVID deaths and 1,240 new cases on Monday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 19,165.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said it's vital people continue to follow restrictions and take precautions to stay safe heading into the holidays. 

"This week is another test for our province. This is usually a time for many to relax and celebrate, but we must not relax our guard or gather with friends and family outside our households," she said. 

The provincewide R-value, or number of people infected by each person with the virus, was 0.92. 

A Calgary judge has rejected an emergency application seeking a stay of Alberta's COVID-19 public health restrictions, including bans on gatherings and mandatory masks.

Lawyers for the group of plaintiffs — including two southern Alberta churches and a Calgary gym owner — had argued the province's COVID-19 restrictions violate their constitutional rights.

In the application, Heights Baptist Church in Medicine Hat and Northside Baptist Church in Calgary, along with three individuals, argued that a number of their constitutional rights have been violated, including limiting peoples' ability to gather for both social and religious reasons, along with travelling and conducting business or expressing themselves. 

The Justice Centre accuses the government of "cancelling Christmas" and suggests COVID-19 has not created an emergency beyond the normal scope of illness and death in the province.

Justice Anne Kirker, in a decision issued Monday afternoon, said the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is real. She said she did not feel the public interest in granting the stay outweighed the public interest in maintaining the restrictions until the full hearing can take place. 

On Sunday, hundreds of Calgarians marched down Stephen Avenue to protest public health restrictions intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. The previous day, two protesters were charged for assaulting an officer and violating the Public Health act. (CBC)

Calgary's police chief says there's a time and place to debate the legitimacy of laws and punishments, but not when police are enforcing them. 

"I want to be crystal clear. We do not live in a society where a person can pick and choose the laws they follow," Chief Mark Neufeld said Monday.

"Laws become unenforceable if people are free to simply walk away from officers without identifying themselves. There is a time and a place to debate laws and to argue your innocence and that is in the courts. It is not at the roadside. It is not in the park and it is not on the ice."

Neufeld was alluding to an incident caught on video last Thursday that showed officers arresting a 21-year-old man at an outdoor skating rink for allegedly violating a public health order and resisting arrest. 

There were also two arrests at an anti-mask, anti-restrictions protest in front of City Hall. 

Provincial health orders bar outside gatherings. Those in violation can be hit with tickets that start at $1,000. Calgary's mask bylaw carries fines starting at $100.

Anyone who has been in the United Kingdom in the past 14 days should get tested for COVID-19, whether they're symptomatic or not, the Alberta government said Monday.

The announcement comes after Ottawa joined several European nations by halting flights from the U.K. on Sunday in an effort to prevent a new, potentially more contagious strain of the coronavirus from spreading to this country.

The province also said travellers from the UK who are participating in Alberta's border pilot rapid-test program must immediately quarantine, whether they've had a negative test or not.

Travellers will be contacted directly by Alberta Health Services to book a test. 

On Sunday, 1,286 new cases were reported and the province now has 19,20 active cases. There are 760 people in hospital, including 149 in intensive care. The testing positivity rate is 7.2 per cent. 

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 reported another 10 deaths on Sunday, bringing the total deaths during the pandemic to 851 since March.

Alberta recently started reporting pre-existing conditions linked to COVID-19 deaths — but the bullet points on each day's list of deaths don't tell the whole story, experts caution.

In November, the province began to announce whether or not a patient who died of COVID-19 also had any comorbidities, which are pre-existing conditions occurring alongside COVID-19. 

Dr. Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist and founder of EPI Research Inc., says studying comorbidities can contribute to a greater understanding of how conditions impact each other, but that discussing the concept without nuance can lead to a misunderstanding or dismissive attitudes to COVID-19's dangers — something those living with pre-existing conditions say contributes to their fear and anxiety. 

"I think it's really important for people to understand in real life what that means when we talk about vulnerable populations by age group and [comorbidity] … it shows how impactful those health conditions are."

Beyond the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson sees a future of vibrant growth and solidarity for the region.

In a year-end interview with CBC News, Iveson said he believes the sense of community and human connection will be stronger after Edmonton pulls through the adverse effects of the pandemic. 

"I think that there'll be a resurgence, a bit of a pent-up demand — explosion for community life, for arts, creativity, investment, entrepreneurship, tourism, the food scene." 

Iveson said the spirit of overcoming adversity is in Edmonton's DNA.

"There is community, there is hope. We can look to the better angels in our nature and overcome tremendous challenges by pulling together."

In November, the 41-year-old Iveson announced that he won't seek a third term as mayor in the municipal election to be held next October.

Sweeping new restrictions intended to curb the surge of COVID-19 in the province took affect on Dec. 13. They will remain in place at least for four weeks — through Christmas and New Year's. A full list of the tighter measures is available on the province's website.

Here is the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Monday:

  • Calgary zone: 6,748, down from 6,853 reported on Sunday (28,626 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 9,147, down from 9,154 (29,666 recovered).
  • North zone: 1,137, up from 1,107 (4,838 recovered).
  • South zone: 461, down from 477 (4,275 recovered). 
  • Central zone: 1,551, up from 1,508 (3,885 recovered).
  • Unknown: 121, up from 102 (144 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 Monday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 507,795 with 76,859 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 14,228.

All of Ontario will move into a lockdown on Boxing Day in a bid to curb climbing COVID-19 case numbers and spare hospitals and their intensive care units from being inundated in January, Premier Doug Ford said Monday.

The lockdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26 and remain in place until at least Jan. 23, 2021 in the 27 public health units that comprise southern Ontario. In the seven public health units in Ontario's north, where daily case numbers have been significantly lower, the lockdown is set to expire on Jan. 9, 2021.

"If we fail to take actions now, the consequences will be catastrophic," Ford said. 

Meanwhile, Ontario reported another 2,123 cases of COVID-19 this morning as admissions to intensive care topped those seen during the first wave of the pandemic. 

Quebec saw 2,108 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday with hospitalizations up to 1,048, including 146 people in intensive care units. Manitoba reported four deaths and 167 new cases, the lowest numbers in more than a month, while Saskatchewan also announced four new COVID-19-related deaths and 206 new cases.

In Atlantic Canada, new measures meant to prevent any possible surge of COVID-19 over the holiday period have started across Nova Scotia, which announced two new cases on Monday. Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases and announced that the province's active caseload has dipped to 28.

In Nunavut, three new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since Friday, all in Arviat, according to a government news release.

British Columbia announced 624 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Friday. The province said 1,376 more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were administered to front-line health-care workers.

The number of COVID-19 cases linked to the Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna has jumped to 76.

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In Saskatchewan, new restrictions took effect on Thursday. The province reported 252 new cases and eight more deaths on Saturday.

Under the new measures, which are in place until at least Jan. 15, residents can no longer have guests in their homes and outdoor socializing is capped at 10 people.

Starting Saturday, bingo halls and casinos must also close, and personal care services, such as hairdressers, must reduce their capacity to half. Retailers have until Christmas Day before they also need to drop to 50 per cent capacity. Larger stores will be limited to 25 per cent.

Manitoba saw 238 new infections and nine more deaths on Saturday.

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. 

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

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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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