Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, Jan. 12
Contact tracing is beginning to improve, province says, with 47% of cases unknown
- Alberta recorded another grim milestone on Tuesday, once again surpassing its record for daily deaths in a single day with 38 new deaths reported. A total of 1,345 people have died of COVID-19 in Alberta.
- Alberta reported 652 new cases of COVID-19 out of 13,220 tests on Tuesday (a positivity rate of 6.8%). Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said it wasn't clear why fewer people are being tested as there is capacity in the system, and reiterated that it's important to be tested and isolate if you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.
- There are 819 people in hospital, including 132 in intensive care.
- Alberta is improving its contact tracing system, Hinshaw said Tuesday, with high-priority cases now being contacted within 24 hours of a positive test. The percentage of cases with an unknown source is now down to 47 per cent, after spending much of the last few months above 80 per cent.
- Alberta Health confirmed there are now five cases in the province of the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K., after the virus spread within a household. There remains one case in the province of the variant first found in South Africa. The province has yet to say which region any of the variant cases are in.
- One school in the province is on alert, with one case of COVID-19.
- As of Monday, 52,318 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
- The province announced Monday it will immediately expand its vaccination program to include all paramedics and emergency medical responders, but Kenney said supplies are already precarious.
- The province has now administered a total of 46,791 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta over the past month, and is expected to receive 41,475 doses this week.
- Albertans are more likely than people in any other province to say they won't ever take the COVID-19 vaccine, and less likely to say they'll get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available, a new Angus Reid poll suggests.
- A health-care aide described as a fighter with unyielding dedication to her patients is the fourth health-care worker in Alberta to die of COVID-19. Rose Vandelannoite died of complications from the disease on Sunday, her union wrote in a memorial post on Twitter. She was 63.
- Alberta school children returned to in-class learning on Monday. In November, junior and senior high students shifted to learning at home while elementary-age students remained at school for in-person learning.
- A High River woman has filed a formal complaint asking police to investigate potential criminal negligence in the death of her father, marking the first known instance in Canada of police investigating a workplace-related COVID-19 death. Benito Quesada worked at the Cargill meat processing plant in the Alberta town, where at least 950 staff — nearly half the workforce — tested positive for COVID-19 by early May in what remains the largest workplace outbreak in Canada.
- Almost 1.5% of the participants in Alberta's pilot program aimed at shortening the quarantine time of international travellers, and who were reporting no symptoms, actually had COVID-19, figures reveal.
- United Conservative Party MLAs, including the Speaker of the legislature and the Deputy Speaker, are denouncing the premier's delayed action and the choices of their caucus colleagues after several took vacations abroad over the holidays.
- Kenney announced last Thursday that the current COVID-19 restrictions would remain in effect until at least Jan. 21.
- WestJet is cutting jobs and slashing its flight capacity by a third because of what the airline calls "instability in the face of continuing federal government travel advisories and restrictions."
- Police and Alberta Health Services responded to a southeast Calgary church on Sunday, after the pastor continued to encourage congregants to break public health rules following a fine and health inspection order.
- Here are more of the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:
- MLAs criticize premier, colleagues after holiday travel controversy
- Nursing home worker calls for transparency as COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues
- Edmonton bus drivers 'strongly encouraged' but not required to wear masks, city says
- Calgary pastor says church will continue to break COVID-19 rules, days after health order issued
- Alberta reports what could be Canada's first case of coronavirus variant first found in South Africa
- Compared to pre-pandemic employment, Alberta lags every province but Manitoba
- Travellers put to the test with requirement to prove they're COVID-free before coming home
- All workers on COVID-19 wards need vaccine now, Alberta doctors tell health minister in open letter
- Anti-viral cat medication may show promise for humans with COVID-19: U of A researchers
- Excitement, trepidation as children go back to school in Calgary
More details on what you need to know in Alberta:
Alberta recorded another grim milestone on Tuesday, once again surpassing its record for daily deaths in a single day with 38 new deaths reported. A total of 1,345 people have died.
Alberta reported 652 new cases of COVID-19 out of 13,220 tests on Tuesday (a positivity rate of 6.8 per cent). Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said it wasn't clear why fewer people are being tested as there is capacity in the system, and reiterated that it's important to be tested and isolate if you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.
There are 819 people in hospital, including 132 in intensive care.
There are a total of 13,220 active cases, down from 13,917 on Monday.
Alberta is improving its contact tracing system, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday, with high-priority cases now being contacted with 24 hours of a positive test. The percentage of cases with an unknown source is now down to 47 per cent, after spending much of the past few months above 80 per cent.
The province announced Monday it will immediately expand its vaccination program to include all paramedics and emergency medical responders.
Premier Jason Kenney says the province believes it can reach the goal of vaccinating 50,000 Albertans per week by the end of the month.
Almost 1.5 per cent of the participants in Alberta's pilot program aimed at shortening the quarantine time of international travellers, and who were reporting no symptoms, actually had COVID-19, figures reveal.
Kenney recently described that result as a success, noting that 1.48 per cent of roughly 20,000 people arriving in the province tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival, saying it compares with an overall positivity rate in the province of around seven per cent.
However, that's among a group of test subjects who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a known case. The pilot program, by contrast, specifically excludes these types of people. To participate, travellers must declare that they have no symptoms and no known exposures.
That means comparing the two figures is "absolutely apples to oranges," said Dr. Craig Jenne, an associate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary.
"As a number it seems low, but when we look at it in context … I thought it was actually quite high," he said, noting international flights can carry hundreds of passengers," he said.
Ariana Quesada, 16, walked into the RCMP detachment in High River, Alta., on Friday and filed a formal complaint asking police to investigate potential criminal negligence in the death of her father.
Benito Quesada, a 51-year-old immigrant from Mexico supporting a wife and four children, was hospitalized with COVID-19 in mid-April, one of hundreds of workers at the town's Cargill meat plant infected with the coronavirus.
He had been in a coma and on a ventilator when he died on May 7. His family had been barred from visiting — except to say goodbye.
At least 950 staff at the Cargill plant — nearly half its workforce — tested positive for COVID-19 by early May in what remains the largest workplace outbreak in Canada.
The Quesadas are demanding accountability from Cargill, alleging the company didn't do enough to protect Benito from the coronavirus.
Police and Alberta Health Services responded to a southeast Calgary church on Sunday, after the pastor continued to encourage congregants to break public health rules following a fine and health inspection order.
Pastor Tim Stephens wrote in an emailed newsletter to Fairview Baptist Church congregants on Wednesday that he had received a $1,200 fine from Calgary bylaw officers for violating public health orders.
"I addressed the regulations theologically, scientifically, legally, and politically. I knew that receiving a fine would be a real possibility. Having received one now, the course is unchanged," he wrote, adding that he would not be following the restrictions and reducing capacity to ensure physical distancing or enforcing mask use within the church.
There are currently more than 5,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Calgary, more than 37,000 people in the city have recovered and 407 have died.
The city's R-value is 1.02, meaning that each person who contracts COVID-19 will infect more than one other person, on average.
Some Calgary veterinarians are seeing a spike in kennel cough of up to 50 per cent more than normal.
"Kennel cough is not a new thing in dogs, but we definitely have seen an increased incidence this past year," veterinarian Jenefer Stillion told the Calgary Eyeopener.
"It's probably not a simple reason, but some things that may be contributing include a lot more people spending time with their dogs right now."
Stillion, the medical director at Fish Creek Pet Hospital, says kennel cough is a term used to group together the different organisms that can cause an infection of the upper respiratory tract or windpipe, leaving dogs with that distinctive dry, honking cough.
Uncomplicated kennel cough is not a serious condition, and most dogs get better within 10 days to two weeks.
A health-care aide described as a fighter with unyielding dedication to her patients is the fourth health-care worker in Alberta to die of COVID-19.
Rose Vandelannoite died of complications from the disease on Sunday, her union wrote in a memorial post on Twitter. She was 63.
She is among 1,307 Albertans who have died from COVID-19.
Vandelannoite, who worked for more than 10 years at Summerwood Village Retirement Home in Sherwood Park, outside Edmonton, was described as a dogged advocate for her colleagues and the people she served.
Vandelannoite is the fourth health-care worker to die from COVID-19. The death of a Calgary-area doctor, a man in his 70s, was reported last week. Alberta health officials said the physician was not infected in the workplace.
The two other workers reported dead from the disease were employed in long-term care facilities.
Ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, bus drivers and LRT operators in Edmonton are not required to wear a mask despite having frequent interactions with the public.
Plexiglass shields around the driver's seat create a physical barrier, the city says, and therefore exempts drivers them from the city's bylaw.
Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, acting branch manager of Edmonton Transit Service, said the city strongly encourages drivers to wear a face covering.
"In mid-December, operators were asked to wear masks at all times, including while behind the bus shield or in the LRT cab."
In an email to CBC News last week, Hotton-MacDonald noted the city has asked the Amalgamated Transit Union to set the standard.
"All transit staff are expected to lead by example and take all precautions, such as practising good hand hygiene, distancing from others as well as wearing masks," Hotton-MacDonald said.
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 detailed regional breakdown of active cases as of Tuesday:
- Calgary zone: 4,778, down from 4,958 reported on Monday (37,937 recovered).
- Edmonton zone: 5,042, down from 5,441 (42,042 recovered).
- North zone: 1,636, down from 1,668 (6,779 recovered).
- South zone: 308, up from 307 (4,927 recovered).
- Central zone: 1,394, down from 1,472 (6,378 recovered).
- Unknown: 62, down from 71 (115 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
- For the latest on what's happening in the rest of Canada and around the world on Monday, see here.