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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Friday, Jan. 22

As case numbers fall, Alberta's top doctor says restrictions will remain in place to ease the pressure on the health-care system. Meanwhile, the province records a grim milestone: 1,500 deaths.

Alberta maintains restrictions as it records 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since pandemic began

A health-care worker makes his way down the middle of a pandemic response unit at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary on Nov. 14, 2020. A COVID-19 field hospital in Edmonton is now ready to admit patients should regular hospitals become overwhelmed. (Submitted by AHS/Leah Hennel)

The latest:

  • Alberta reported another 643 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday — down from 678 new cases on Thursday — with around a 4.9 per cent positivity rate. 
  • Alberta has now lost 1,512 people to COVID-19 since the pandemic began last March. Twelve new deaths were reported on Friday.
  • A COVID-19 field hospital in Edmonton is now ready to admit patients should regular hospitals in the region become overwhelmed.
  • As of Thursday afternoon, the outbreak at CapitalCare Lynnwood in the West Meadowlark Park neighbourhood in Edmonton had claimed 55 lives, making it the deadliest outbreak in Alberta since the pandemic began.
  • The number of COVID-19 outbreaks at Alberta child-care facilities are falling, and appear to show measures in place are working — but maintaining vigilance is key to continuing the trend, says infectious disease expert Craig Jenne.
  • There are 691 people in hospital, with 115 in intensive care, down slightly from 726 in hospital the previous day. 
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Thursday no additional measures are being eased while hospitalization numbers remain high.
  • Hinshaw said the data indicates that the tougher restrictions put in place by Premier Jason Kenney's UCP government in November and December have achieved their intended outcome, so far. She said it's important to continue to follow precautions and be mindful of community transmission in an effort to reduce case numbers and hospitalizations.
  • 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. As of Jan. 20, the seven-day average was 644.86, which is roughly the level it was at in early November when the numbers were rising sharply. 
  • Alberta's total of active cases has dropped to 9,987 as of Jan. 22, which is roughly the level that was seen in mid-November.
  • The total 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 total of 96,506 vaccine doses had been administered as of Thursday.

See the detailed regional breakdown:

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as of Friday.

  • Calgary zone: 3,839, down from 3,962 reported on Wednesday (41,512 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 3,511, down from 3,561 (45,789 recovered).
  • North zone: 1,366, down from 1,383 (8,143 recovered).
  • South zone: 411, up from 405 (5,176 recovered). 
  • Central zone: 849, down from 931 (7,520 recovered).
  • Unknown: 11, down from 14 (118 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

(Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

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


Construction on field hospital in Edmonton now complete

Construction on a field hospital inside the University of Alberta's Butterdome complex was completed this week.

The facility, which includes 100 temporary beds, is now prepped in case hospitals in the region become overwhelmed.

Alberta Health Services said the field hospital will be used only if local hospitals are stretched past capacity.

In December, a pedestrian walks toward the University of Alberta Butterdome. Construction on a field hospital inside the complex was completed this week. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

"Overall occupancy in Edmonton-area hospitals remains high. We want to be prepared for all possible scenarios. These 100 additional inpatient spaces are part of our ongoing, proactive pandemic response planning," AHS said on Twitter.

The Butterdome was also used as a COVID-19 assessment centre last spring, and additional work on the facility took place late last year with help from the Canadian Red Cross.

Alberta has now lost 1,500 people to COVID-19

There have now been 1,500 deaths due to COVID-19 recorded in Alberta since last March.

On Thursday, the province reported 16 more deaths and 678 new cases of the illness.

Active cases in Alberta have been declining steadily for the past month and are now half what they were in mid-December.

But though the number of people in hospital has declined slightly, that metric has lagged well behind.

'We are not in the clear just yet,' Dr. Hinshaw says

CBC News Edmonton

3 months ago
2:57
Although Alberta is seeing COVID-19 numbers drop, Dr. Deena Hinshaw says it's too early to lift health restrictions as hospitalization and ICU numbers are still high. 2:57

On Dec. 13, active cases peaked at 21,178. The latest update, released Thursday, reported 10,256 cases.

Hospitalizations in Alberta peaked on Dec. 30, when there were 941 people being treated for the illness, including 145 in ICU beds.

Across the province, 726 people are now being treated in hospitals for the disease, including 119 in ICU beds.

Hinshaw said that's one reason the current restrictions must remain in place.

"In a year that has already been extremely difficult, I am proud of the sacrifices and community spirit that Albertans have shown to produce these encouraging numbers," Hinshaw said Thursday at a news conference. "At the same time, we are not in the clear just yet. That is why no additional measures are being eased at this time."

While cases are falling, Alberta still has the second-highest active case rate per capita in Canada, she said.


Outbreaks at Alberta child-care centres appear to be slowing

The falling number of COVID-19 outbreaks at Alberta child-care facilities appear to show measures in place are working, says an infectious disease expert.

Craig Jenne, an associate professor at the University of Calgary in the department of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases, said the numbers peaked along with community transmission.

The key now is to keep overall cases down and watch for coronavirus variants, Jenne said.

"We believe our current defences are working well against the viral strain that's here now," Jenne said. "But if that changes — if that is able to spread more easily — it may mean that our current limitations on occupancy and spaces and handwashing may not be as effective at stopping viral spread.

"That may lead to more transmission within child care, but also within the community, meaning more kids are going to a daycare or child-care setting with the virus."

In August, there were two outbreaks of five or more cases, and 10 people tested positive. By December, there were 15 new outbreaks at child-care centres with 125 cases.

But this month, there are fewer than half as many outbreaks — so far this month there are six new child-care outbreaks in Alberta including 64 cases.


Edmonton long-term care centre outbreak now the deadliest

As of Thursday afternoon, the outbreak at CapitalCare Lynnwood in the West Meadowlark Park neighbourhood in Edmonton had claimed 55 lives, making it the deadliest outbreak in Alberta since the pandemic began.

In a 46-day period over the holidays, 41 residents died of COVID-19.

A total of 262 cases have been linked to the outbreak, Alberta Health said in a statement to CBC News. Three cases remain active while 205 residents have recovered.

The number of active infections continues to decline but the waning caseload comes after a particularly bleak holiday season inside the 276-bed facility.


Funeral homes offer different ways to grieve:

Gathering restrictions in Alberta have prompted funeral homes to offer friends and families more options to remember loved ones. 

Live streams and video recording of funeral services weren't popular options for grieving families before but some funeral directors say the services may be here to stay.

On Jan. 8, the family of Donna Burkoholder held her funeral service near Tofield, Alta. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, only 10 people could attend in person.

It made for a tough decision for the family. 

"How do you pick which family can come to a family member's funeral? So we didn't have my children or my little brother's children," said Lorne Burkholder, Donna's son. "That's going to be the loneliest moment ever you're going through."

Working with family members, community members, and the funeral home, the family held a service with 10 people beside the casket outside Salem Mennonite Church.


Alberta prioritizing second dose vaccinations due to Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shortage

CBC News Edmonton

3 months ago
1:27
With uncertainty in the supply of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Alberta Health Services is adjusting planning of the rollout and doing everything they can to get second doses to those who have received their first dose, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday. 1:27

  • For the latest on what's happening in the rest of Canada and around the world on Friday, see here.

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