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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, May 13

Alberta reported 1,558 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and nine new deaths as Alberta clarified rules for people who don't wear masks in public places because of medical conditions.

Rocky Mountain House hospital temporarily closing ER amid doctor shortage

Lorraine Savoy, 54, gets a vaccine shot at an AHS site on Wednesday. Alberta reported 1,799 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and four new deaths. (AHS)

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported 1,558 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and nine more deaths.
  • There were 24,586 active cases, giving Alberta the highest active-case rate — in other words, active cases per capita — of all provinces and territories.
  • The test positivity rate was 10.4 per cent.
  • There were 722 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 177 people in intensive care
  • There have now been 2,132 COVID deaths
  • The latest R-value reported for the province was 1, meaning the virus is spreading to one person for each confirmed case. 
  • 188,475 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19. 
  • Currently, 911 schools, about 38 per cent of all schools in Alberta, are on alert or have outbreaks. In-school transmission is believed to have occurred in 799 schools. However, as of last Friday, all K-12 students in the province moved to online learning until May 25. The premier said 80,000 students and staff were already in self-isolation. All post-secondary classes also moved online.
  • Banff has seen a dramatic drop in cases after having had the highest per capita rate in the province. Last month, the town had a rate of more than 1,070 active cases per 100,000 people. As of May 12, however, the town has dropped to the 60th highest rate in the province.

The latest on vaccines:

  • Alberta Health says its supply of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is down to roughly 8,400 doses, so the remaining supply will be used for second doses, since it's unclear when Alberta will get additional shipments of the vaccine.
  • Alberta is receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in "large and consistent shipments," the province says. More than 236,000 doses are set to arrive this week, alone.
  • Alberta began offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone 12 and over as of Monday.
  • 2,019,713 vaccine doses have been administered, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
  • 38 per cent of Albertans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
  • 322,247 Albertans have been fully immunized (two doses). 

(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 restrictions:

  • Alberta clarified the rules Thursday for people who don't wear masks in public places because of medical conditions.
  • Effective May 13, in order to verify that someone has a medical condition that makes them unable to wear a mask, Albertans with certain conditions will be required to obtain a medical exception letter from a health professional.
  • The list of health conditions includes people with sensory processing disorders, developmental delay, cognitive impairment, some mental illnesses, facial trauma or recent surgery, contact dermatitis or allergic reactions to mask materials, and clinically significant respiratory distress.
  • Simmering discontent within Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. Backbench member Todd Loewen, in a letter posted on Facebook, called on Kenney to resign, saying he no longer has confidence in his leadership.
  • Loewen was one of 18 United Conservative backbench members to break with Kenney's government in early April over health-care restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. They say the rules are needlessly restrictive and infringe on personal freedoms.
  • The emergency department at Rocky Mountain House's Health Centre will be closed for a 16-hour period due to a shortage of available doctors. "This is a temporary situation, due to COVID-19 impacting the availability of physicians across the zone who are able to provide locum coverage," states the Alberta Health Services release. "Central Alberta has a number of physicians who are impacted by COVID-19 or in isolation due to being a close contact, limiting available resources."
  • More than 14 months into the pandemic, Alberta is still in discussions with the federal government over the adoption of an act that would allow the province to more easily go after quarantine rule-breakers. Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only provinces that haven't signed on to the Contraventions Act, which gives police additional powers to enforce the Quarantine Act. Calgary is one of four cities — along with Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal — accepting international flights, yet there is no record of anyone being charged with hotel quarantine violations in Alberta. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CBC News last week it was "aware" of 513 tickets being issued to air passengers who arrived in Toronto or Vancouver between Feb. 22 and April 25 and refused to go to a quarantine hotel.
  • Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu apologized Tuesday for his remarks on Facebook accusing Ottawa, the media and the NDP Opposition of wanting a health-care disaster due to surging COVID-19 cases. Madu issued the apology on Twitter a day after his press secretary told the media that the minister had nothing to be sorry for.

WATCH | Trudeau, Kenney respond to comments from Alberta justice minister:

Trudeau, Kenney spar over MLA who blamed Ottawa, provincial NDP for COVID-19 spread

7 months ago
2:10
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s “a shame” that Alberta’s justice minister has accused Ottawa, the Opposition and the media of hoping for a worse COVID-19 outcome. 2:10
  • Madu said on May 5 that fines for defying provincial public health orders will double to $2,000 and introduced what he called a new enforcement protocol to target people not complying with orders. 
  • On May 8, Calgary police arrested two organizers of a church service who have been defying public health restrictions for months and charged them with organizing an illegal in-person gathering.
  • Alberta's United Conservative Party government introduced a bundle of tougher public-health restrictions again last Tuesday, May 4, to slow the spread of COVID-19 — measures Kenney said were needed to keep the health-care system from being overwhelmed.
  • The new public health measures apply to all parts of Alberta except those with fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people and fewer than 30 active cases.
  • All kindergarten to Grade 12 students moved to at-home learning, with a few exceptions, starting last Friday.
  • Workplaces with COVID-19 outbreaks now must close for 10 days, unless they are essential workplaces.
  • Restaurants are limited to take-out service only, with patios closed.
  • Retail is limited to 10 per cent of fire code occupancy. 
  • Outdoor social gatherings are limited to five people, and the province strongly encourages people to stick to a maximum of two different family cohorts in outdoor gatherings. 
  • Places of worship are limited to 15 people and funerals are limited to 10 people. 
  • All indoor fitness activities must close, as well as hair salons and nail salons.
  • Outdoor sports are limited to household and close contacts only. 
  • Golf courses can remain open, but golfers must only play with people from their own household, or if they live alone, with their two close contacts.
  • The full list of current restrictions is available on the province's website.

The latest on more dangerous variants:

  • As of May 1, Alberta Health stopped screening all positive specimens for variants of concern because the variants had become the dominant strains in the province.
  • Instead, it is now limiting screening to hospitalized and emergency room patients, patients involved in outbreaks, health-care workers and recent international travellers.

See which regions are being hit hardest:

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

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

  • Calgary zone: 11,584 active cases, down from 11,611 active cases reported Wednesday (75,055 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 5,470, down from 5,606 (67,097 recovered).
  • North zone: 3,618, down from 3,675 (20,117 recovered).
  • South zone: 1,255, down from 1,311 (10,227 recovered).
  • Central zone: 2,647, down from 2,742 (15,961 recovered).
  • Unknown: 12, down from 17 (18 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.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

How Alberta compares to other provinces and territories:

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