Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, Jan. 5
Second health-care worker has died of COVID-19
- Health Minister Tyler Shandro has anounced the death of a second health-care worker of COVID-19. She was continuing care worker who was in her 50s. She worked in the Edmonton zone. Shandro made the announcement Tuesday at the government's first pandemic news conference of the new year.
- Alberta Health Services has launched an online appointment booking tool for health-care workers to facilitate immunizations. In an attempt to immunize as many people as possible, AHS will provide immunization in the evening, on weekends and on holidays.
- To date, the province has provided 26,269 vaccinations, with another 3,000 shots expected today. The minister noted the next shipment of the Pfizer vaccine is on the way, with 13,000 doses expected this week.
- Alberta reported 843 new cases and 26 more deaths on Tuesday, with a total of 13,411 active cases in the province.
- Across the province, 919 patients are being treated in hospitals for the illness, including 140 in ICU beds, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health.
- Premier Jason Kenney's government faces continued fire from a public outraged over the international travel through the holiday season of a UCP cabinet minister, MLAs and key staff despite months of warnings from his and various other levels of government for the public to avoid any non-essential travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Kenney accepted the resignations of Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard as minister of municipal affairs and Jamie Huckabay as his chief of staff.
- Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi faced criticism that two city staffers also vacationed in Hawaii over the holidays. Nenshi held a news conference Tuesday to address the issue.
- In a Facebook post Monday, Kenney said he has also demoted five other UCP MLAs who travelled internationally over the holidays. Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon has been stripped from his position as parliamentary secretary for civil society. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan has been removed from Treasury Board. Three MLAs — Calgary-Peigan's Tanya Fir, Tany Yao of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo and Lesser Slave Lake's Pat Rehn — have been removed from the legislature committees they have sat on.
- Transportation Minister Ric McIver will take over Municipal Affairs until a new minister is appointed, Kenney said. Larry Kaumeyer, the current principal secretary, will serve as interim chief of staff.
- But some critics say the moves are too little and too late for the UCP to avoid lasting fallout. Even after CBC News revealed that Allard was in Hawaii despite denials from her office, Kenney held a news conference last Friday to say he would not fire or demote Allard or others in government who travelled, as they did not break the law, and saying he was not clear with staff about whether or not they should be travelling — but critics pointed out his own government has warned for months against non-essential travel.
- The travel scandal will leave a lasting impression on voters and is orders of magnitude more serious than others in recent memory that have toppled governments in Alberta, a pollster and a political scientist agree in this analysis by Drew Anderson. "Self-righteousness is the kryptonite of the left," said Calgary-based pollster Janet Brown. "Elitism and entitlement is the kryptonite of the right."
- A Calgary man who was known for treating seniors with respect and dignity at the long-term care facility he worked at in Calgary became the first known health-care worker to die of COVID-19 in Alberta. Joe Marie (Jing) Parrenas Corral, who was 61, died on Dec. 28, the province said Monday.
- He was one of 96 Albertans who died of COVID-19 over the five days around New Year's, the province said Monday. There have been more than 1,100 deaths.
- It took nearly nine months for Alberta to record its first 500 deaths; the next 500 came in just 34 days. Check out how it happened in this analysis.
- More than 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Alberta in the five-day span before Monday, as the positivity rate remains high and hospitalizations continue to increase.
- The province now has 13,411 active cases, after weeks of slow decline since the total active cases peaked at 21,138 on Dec. 13, the day after a raft of new provincial restrictions went into effect.
- Students are set to return to in-person classes on Jan. 11, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange confirmed on Twitter on Monday.
- Here are more of the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:
- ANALYSIS | With pandemic travel scandal, Kenney faces conservative kryptonite: elitis
- OPINION | Done with the political turkeys after the holidays, Jen Gerson writes
- Mother angry over travel scandal after Make-A-Wish trip postponed for sick son
- Travel by Alberta politicians could make it harder to enforce public health rules, experts say
- Joe Corral, 61, mourned as 1st Alberta health-care worker to die of COVID-19
- Alberta cabinet minister, premier's chief of staff resign over holiday travel, other MLAs demoted
- Calgary councillors say they stayed home, stayed safe amid politician travel controversy
- COVID-19 variant could 'spread like wildfire through schools' when classrooms reopen, pediatrician worries
- Influential Edmonton artist Alice Switzer dies from COVID-19
More detail on what you need to know today in Alberta
After a break in reporting detailed case data over the holidays, the Alberta government shared the latest COVID-19 data on Monday from the previous five days, saying the province racked up more than 5,100 new cases. As of Monday, there were 13,989 active cases in Alberta.
The province also said there were 96 more deaths from the virus, including the first known health-care worker to die of COVID-19 in Alberta: Joe Marie (Jing) Parrenas Corral, 61, who was known for treating the seniors he supported with respect and dignity.
Corral, who died on Dec. 28, worked as a health-care aide at Bethany Riverview, a long-term care centre specializing in caring for people with complex dementia in Calgary.
Corral was born on April 17, 1959, in Iloilo City, Philippines, according to his obituary. He is survived by a daughter who lives in Burnaby, B.C., and a son who lives in Edmonton.
A Facebook post from Fiesta Filipino, the largest cultural festival for the Filipino community in Alberta, had highlighted Corral's work as a "COVID-19 hero" at Bethany.
"He was the nicest man and how he treated everyone with respect and dignity is beyond immeasurable. He was [a] one-of-a-kind person and many of his co-workers are mourning of his passing," the post reads.
As of Monday, there were 20 active employee cases and 20 active resident cases at the site, and two residents have died. A total of 10 employees and 11 residents have recovered. The outbreak affected four levels at the facility.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, has said fewer tests were completed over the holidays. Hospitalizations have continued to increase and the positivity rate remains high.
Here's how many new cases were reported and tests completed over the five days preceding Monday's update:
- SUNDAY: 1,280 new cases, 11,963 tests done, 9.4 per cent positivity rate.
- SATURDAY: 459 new cases, 8,112 tests done, 5.7 per cent positivity rate.
- FRIDAY: 933 new cases, 12,719 tests done, 7.3 per cent positivity rate.
- THURSDAY: 1,361 new cases, 16,347 tests done, 8.3 per cent positivity rate.
- WEDNESDAY: 1,226 new cases, 16,867 tests done, 7.3 per cent positivity rate.
There are now 905 people in hospital, 136 of them in intensive care. The provincewide R-value was 0.99; in Edmonton it was 0.92, and 1.02 in Calgary.
Premier Jason Kenney has accepted the resignations of Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard as minister of municipal affairs and Jamie Huckabay as his chief of staff.
In a Facebook post Monday, Kenney said he has also demoted five other UCP MLAs who travelled internationally over the holidays.
Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon has been stripped from his position as parliamentary secretary for civil society. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan has been removed from Treasury Board.
Three MLAs — Calgary-Peigan's Tanya Fir, Tany Yao of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo and Lesser Slave Lake's Pat Rehn — have been removed from the legislature committees they have sat on.
Transportation Minister Ric McIver will take over municipal affairs until a new minister is appointed, Kenney said. Larry Kaumeyer, the current principal secretary, will serve as interim chief of staff.
"Millions of Albertans have made real sacrifices over the past 10 months to help keep each other safe. They are right to be angry about people in positions of leadership vacationing outside of the country," Kenney wrote. "By travelling abroad over the holidays, these individuals demonstrated extremely poor judgment."
Some Albertans may be less likely to follow public health orders after several politicians admitted to leaving the country despite pandemic restrictions, according to experts in human behaviour.
People model their actions after their leaders, said Dr. Lynne Honey, professor of psychology at MacEwan University.
"It's really critical for those that we view as role models and those who are setting the rules to be the ones who demonstrate what that looks like to the rest of us, and for there to be a great deal of consistency," she said.
"People get very confused and are very likely to skirt the rules and skirt regulations when those regulations are not consistent or clear."
Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard resigned from her role as minister of municipal affairs Monday after news emerged that she had travelled to Hawaii over the holidays.
An Alberta mother says she's outraged by various politicians and staff who decided to travel abroad over the holidays, while a dream trip to Hawaii for her terminally ill son had to be postponed.
Lia Lousier of Airdrie says nine-year-old Braeden is one of 100 people in the world to be diagnosed with a rare inherited connective tissue disease called Hajdu-Cheney syndrome.
Lousier said when she saw the second-wave of COVID-19 coming, the family postponed the trip, which was being arranged by the Make-A-Wish-Foundation.
"Seeing Tracy Allard going to Hawaii was just that final, last break for me, just unbelievable anger that she felt she had the right to do that and then for her to excuse it," said Lousier.
"I think of the sheer number of people that I know that have elderly parents or aging parents, or have family out of province — did they want to spend Christmas alone? They sure didn't."
Some city councillors in Calgary are expressing disappointment with provincial politicians and staff who went against public health recommendations to travel recreationally over the holidays.
"Leaders know that it's essential to build trust during a crisis if we want the public to follow the rules. This blatant disregard by the very people in charge of public health shows incredible disrespect to essential workers and all those who have been sacrificing for the common good," Coun. Druh Farrell told CBC News.
Students are set to return to in-person classes on Jan. 11, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange confirmed on Twitter on Monday.
That prospect has some experts saying it's too soon and could fuel faster community spread of the virus.
Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician with the University of Alberta, says the discovery of a new variant of COVID-19 that spreads more easily makes the situation more worrisome.
"It could spread like wildfire through schools which means it will be brought into many, many households in the province, and this could be a catastrophe," she 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: 4,545, down from 4,700 reported on Monday (35,757 recovered).
- Edmonton zone: 5,794, down from 5,983 (39,241 recovered).
- North zone: 1,311, up from 1,284 (6,201 recovered).
- South zone: 257, down from 266 (4,799 recovered).
- Central zone: 1,431, down from 1,523 (5,663 recovered).
- Unknown: 73, down from 83 (138 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 Sunday, see here.