Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Wednesday, July 21

Alberta reported 81 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday but no additional deaths.

Alberta reported 81 new cases on Wednesday, up from 69 the previous day

'Getting COVID-19 is scary, and getting the vaccine protects you from it,' said Owen Ermineskin, 14, who received the COVID-19 vaccine at the Siksika Nation rural COVID-19 immunization clinic. (AHS)

The latest on restrictions and reopenings:

  • Some public health experts are concerned by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's claim that the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, arguing it falsely implies the coronavirus is no longer a cause for concern. 
  • Dr. Gabriel Fabreau, an assistant professor in general internal medicine at the University of Calgary, said he and his colleagues are holding their breath to see whether cases will surge following the Calgary Stampede, the first major event held in Canada since the pandemic began. The Stampede ended on Sunday.
  • A particular concern for Fabreau is the proportion of Alberta's population with at least one dose has somewhat plateaued. On Sunday, the province saw the fewest first doses administered since February, when vaccine access was scarce.
  • The experts pointed to a few reasons for caution. In recent weeks, Alberta's COVID-19 R-value and positivity rate have risen. Last Thursday, the province reported an increase in active cases for the first time since May. As well, they're watching other countries that have had vicious rebounds after reopening. 
  • The U.S. land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21, according to a renewal order issued by the American government Wednesday. In a notice pre-published in the U.S. Federal Register, the government says while vaccination rates have improved, opening the land border to non-essential travel still poses too high a risk.
  • The Canadian government announced Monday it plans to let fully vaccinated tourists visit Canada again soon. Ottawa says starting Aug. 9 at 12:01 a.m. ET fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents living in that country will be able to visit Canada without having to quarantine for two weeks.
  • The government said it plans to allow fully vaccinated travellers from all other countries to enter Canada without quarantine on Sept. 7.
  • Canadians and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated will need to show documents proving they received doses of vaccines approved in Canada at least 14 days prior to entering the country.
  • Officials said travellers must electronically submit COVID-19-related information to the government's ArriveCAN app before arriving, meet the pre- and on-arrival test requirements, be asymptomatic and have a suitable quarantine plan.
  • Calgarians left stranded in India after a travel ban was announced in April due to rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in that country will have to wait longer before they can return home, after the federal government extended a ban on flights arriving from India until at least Aug. 21.
  • Alberta entered Stage 3 of its three-stage reopening plan on July 1, lifting all restrictions. The general indoor provincial mask mandate was lifted, but masking might still be required in limited settings or if certain communities continue it under local bylaws.
  • The Alberta government announced on July 13 that remaining restrictions in effect for continuing care facilities would be lifted in a two-stage process beginning as soon as operators were able to make any necessary changes.
  • The first phase was to end remaining visitor restrictions, limits to dining and recreation activities, and additional screening for residents who go off-site. Outbreak protocols, single-site staffing and other measures were to remain in place until further notice.

The latest COVID-19 numbers

  • Alberta reported 81 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
  • There have been no new deaths. A total of 2,318 Albertans have died. 
  • The rate at which COVID-19 cases spread from one person to the next is once again rising in the province. As of last week, Alberta's province-wide R-value was 0.84, with a confidence interval of 0.74 to 0.94. It was even higher in Edmonton, at 0.97 with a confidence interval pushing the city's R-value potentially over one. 
  • Public health officials have reported the first cases of the C.37 coronavirus variant in Alberta — also known as the lambda variant. Both were travel-related.
  • There are 649 active COVID cases, which is up by 43 from the previous day, and the test positivity rate is 1.4 per cent.
  • There are 95 people with COVID in hospitals in Alberta. Of those, 27 are in intensive care units.
  • 229,989 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.

    (Note the latest daily count of new cases in the above chart will usually vary slightly from the net new cases Alberta Health announces each day. For more on why, click here.)

    The latest on vaccines:

    • Alberta reached a significant milestone in its COVID-19 immunization campaign Monday with more than five million doses of vaccines administered.
    • Dr. Deena Hinshaw tweeted Wednesday that the province's latest data reaffirms that vaccination provides excellent protection against infection and variants.
    • Hinshaw said one dose proves to be 57 per cent effective against the B.1.617 variant, and increases to 85 per cent with two doses. Against the B.1.1.7 variant, two doses prove to be 91 per cent effective.
    • As of Wednesday, 5,100,111 doses of vaccines have been administered.
    • 51.6 per cent of all Albertans are fully vaccinated, while 63.7 per cent have received at least one dose (74.9 per cent of those eligible).
    • AHS is offering no-appointment, first and second dose COVID-19 immunization clinics with Pfizer vaccine at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre and the Genesis Centre, from Wednesday, July 21, through Monday, July 26.
    • Clinics are also running in Calgary at the Somali Cultural Centre, 3940 29 Street N.E. on July 24, and at the  Crossroads Community Centre at 1803 14 Ave N.E. on July 29. 
    • North of Calgary, AHS will also operate a clinic in the Crossfield Community Centre on July 27.

    You can see active cases by local health area on the following interactive map. Scroll, zoom and click on the map for more information:

      See which regions are being hit hardest:

      Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as reported by the province on Wednesday.

      • Calgary zone: 378.
      • Edmonton zone: 128.
      • Central zone: 46.
      • South zone: 34.
      • North zone: 63.
      • Unknown: 0.

      Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

      With files from The Canadian Press