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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Jan. 17

Alberta will ease some public health restrictions on Monday, including allowing personal and wellness services to reopen, and limited outdoor gatherings, as there are encouraging signs that the tougher measures introduced in December did their job in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Alberta's Phase 1 vaccination rollout has been slowed over Pfizer supply issues

A couple wearing masks walk past a mural of a mother and child in Calgary on Dec. 28, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The latest numbers:

  • Alberta reported 750 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, for a total of 12,234 active cases and a 6.5 per cent positivity rate.
  • There are 738 people in hospital, 123 of whom are in intensive care, down slightly from 765 in hospital the previous day. Another 19 people have died, a total of 1,436 deaths. 
  • A total of 85,935 vaccines had been administered in the province as of Sunday.
  • Since reaching a peak on Dec. 7 of 1,767 new cases per day, the seven-day average of daily new cases has been steadily declining in Alberta. As of Jan. 15, the seven-day average was 779.29, which is roughly the level it was at in mid-November when the numbers were exploding. 
  • The total of active cases in Alberta has been dropping slowly but steadily since it peaked at 21,138 on Dec. 13, a day after tougher provincial restrictions kicked in that made working from home mandatory for those who could, banned in-person service at restaurants, pubs and bars, and entirely closed entertainment and recreation facilities from movie theatres to gyms, personal and wellness services like spas and hair salons. A few days earlier, the province had also instituted a mandatory provincewide mask requirement, and banned all outdoor and indoor social gatherings with people beyond one's immediate household. 
  • Twelve schools, about 0.4 per cent, are on alert or have outbreaks, with 15 cases in total. Outbreaks have been declared in two of them, accounting for five cases. In-school transmission has likely occurred in three schools, and all three only led to one new case.
  • The provincewide R-value is 0.90meaning that each person who contracts COVID-19 will transmit coronavirus to less than one other person, on average. 
(Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Alberta's Phase 1 vaccination rollout slowed:

Alberta will have to delay vaccinating people on its priority list after learning about a temporary reduction in Canada's supply of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. 

The pharmaceutical company is temporarily cutting production in order to upgrade manufacturing capacity at its facility in Belgium.

A nurse gives a COVID-19 vaccine to Sahra Kaahiye in Edmonton on Dec. 15, 2020. Alberta will have to delay vaccinating people on its priority list after learning about a temporary reduction in Canada's supply of the Pfizer vaccine. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

While Alberta awaits its new allotment numbers, Alberta's health minister says vaccination rollout in the province will slow until supplies ramp up again.

The latest news on MLA travel:

Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn was ousted from the UCP caucus Thursday and barred from running again for the party after being chastised for travelling to Mexico over the holidays and publicly criticized for alleged absenteeism in his constituency. Rehn will be barred from running for the UCP ever again, Kenney announced on Facebook Thursday morning.

Pat Rehn, the MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, posted a statement on Facebook Saturday confirming he is on his way back to Alberta from a trip to Mexico. (Facebook)

Two other UCP MLAs confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday that they left Alberta during December despite their own government's warnings against non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. That brings the total to nine (including Rehn) from the UCP caucus and none for the NDP caucus. The information comes after CBC News asked the UCP and NDP caucuses where each member was and published a full list — including the names of those who didn't say.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories from yesterday and today:

Health restrictions to ease Monday:

Alberta will ease some public health restrictions starting on Monday, allowing personal and wellness services businesses to reopen by appointment only.

The changes will impact hair salons, barber shops, esthetics, manicure and pedicure businesses, reflexology, piercing and tattoo shops, and other personal and wellness services throughout the province. 

‘Don’t bend the rules to fit you’

CBC News Edmonton

3 months ago
0:51
Alberta plans to ease some COVID-19 restrictions but Health Minister Tyler Shandro has words for those who might take advantage of the changes. 0:51

Appointments should be limited to one-on-one services and businesses and clients are expected to keep following the public health guidelines.

Starting Monday, up to 10 people will also be allowed to gather outdoors, and up to 20 people will be allowed to attend a funeral, with the caveat that all who attend wear masks and maintain two metres of physical distancing.

Funeral receptions are still not allowed, and indoor gatherings remain prohibited.


Post-holiday COVID-19 numbers:

Fears of a post-holiday COVID-19 surge appear not to have materialized in Alberta, and experts say current trends are encouraging, but the province still has some way to go before major public-health measures can be safely lifted.

Before the holidays, Kenney said he was concerned that Albertans might misunderstand or disregard the stricter rules imposed in December restricting family gatherings.

But it appears Albertans generally followed the rules and limited the spread of the virus.

'What we're doing in Alberta is working': COVID numbers trending in the right direction

CBC News Calgary

3 months ago
1:02
Infectious disease expert Craig Jenne says multiple data points in January 2021 suggest Alberta is successfully curbing the spread of COVID-19 but the trends need to continue for some time before restrictions can be safely eased. 1:02

A post-holiday spike in cases would be expected to have shown up in the data by now, but so far there has been no major increase.


Analysis on Alberta and COVID-19 denialism:

In a new analysis piece, CBC's Drew Anderson studies how anxiety, along with economic consequences, have made the province a prime breeding ground for conspiracy.

"Those forces have conspired to make Alberta a prime breeding ground for the kind of conspiratorial thinking on display, which pulls nuggets of truth from the flurry of science in real time and contorts it into a narrative of oppression. It is a near-perfect storm for the small minority caught up in it," Anderson writes.

"The question is: how did they find themselves in its path?"

Protestors gather at the Municipal Plaza in Calgary for the walk for freedom on December 12, 2020. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Hospitality group calls for guidelines:

The Alberta Hospitality Association is demanding clear guidelines from the province regarding when and how businesses that are closed or restricted due to the pandemic can resume normal operations.

In an open letter to the province, the industry group says the roughly 150,000 people who work in the sector have been struggling for too long and the current state of restrictions are unfair.

Leslie Echino, vice-president of the Alberta Hospitality Association, is calling for clear guidelines from the province regarding when and how businesses can re-open. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Association vice-president and Calgary restaurant owner Leslie Echino says hard numbers and clear targets are needed.

"What's it going to take to enable us to reopen? Is it going to be the R-factor? Is it going to be hospitalizations? We need clear ways to understand when we're going to open," she said.


On the front lines of COVID-19:

A Calgary emergency room physician is capturing life on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic through her camera lens. 

For the past six weeks, Dr. Heather Patterson has visited hospitals in the city to take photos of what unfolds in the hallways and patient rooms — and even in the ICU.

Why this doctor is taking COVID-19 photos inside the ER

CBC News Calgary

3 months ago
2:56
This Calgary doctor has been documenting COVID-19 from behind the scenes. 2:56

"As the pandemic began to affect our Calgary hospitals and community, I realized that I wanted to capture what was actually happening inside our hospitals," Patterson told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday.

"I wanted to tell the authentic story of this team of people who have a common goal, and how we're achieving that."


Alberta preparing for variants:

Alberta is ramping up its surveillance for two coronavirus variants — which have now been reported in the province — as a team of scientists at the provincial laboratory develop a quicker and easier test to identify cases and determine if and when the strains take root.

Five cases of the variant first identified in the U.K. have been confirmed in Alberta, along with one case of the variant first discovered in South Africa.

Kara Gill, with Alberta Precision Laboratories’ specialized diagnostics team, loads samples on a sequencer to determine the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Alberta Precision Laboratories)

All of the cases are travel-related, according to Alberta Health, but there is a small amount of transmission in one case where a traveller spread COVID-19 to two household contacts. Health officials say there is no evidence there was further spread beyond that household.

CBC News has launched a vaccine tracker so you can follow the progress as vaccines are rolled out across the country. See how the vaccine rollout is going in your province or territory here.


See the detailed regional breakdown:

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as of Sunday:

  • Calgary zone: 4,610, down from 4,863 reported on Saturday (39,594 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 4,303, down from 4,510 (44,072 recovered).
  • North zone: 1,704, down from 1,714 (7,388 recovered).
  • South zone: 415, up from 400 (5,044 recovered). 
  • Central zone: 1,182, down from 1,209 (6,957 recovered).
  • Unknown: 20, up from 17 (112 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
 


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