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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Saturday, May 15

Albertans with a condition that qualifies for a mask exemption must now prove it by producing a letter from a physician, nurse practitioner or psychologist, while the province continues to have the highest per capita COVID-19 rate in the country, by far.

Alberta reported 1,195 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and three more deaths

The AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine is drawn at the Telus Convention Centre immunization site in Calgary on April 20, 2021. (Leah Hennel/AHS)

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported 1,195 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and three more deaths.
  • There were 22,993 active cases.  Alberta continues to have the highest active-case rate — in other words, active cases per person — of all provinces and territories in Canada.
  • The test positivity rate was 9.6 per cent.
  • There were 686 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 178 people in intensive care
  • There have now been 2,140 COVID deaths
  • The latest R-value reported for the province was 1, meaning the virus is spreading to one person for each confirmed case, and the growth is not exponential. 
  • 192,688 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19. 
  • Banff has seen a dramatic drop in cases after having 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 13, however, Banff National Park has dropped to the 60th highest rate in the province, with 38 active cases.
  • The province no longer breaks out the total cases that involve variants of concern because they're the dominant strains in the province. As of May 1, Alberta Health limits variant screening to hospitalized and emergency room patients, patients involved in outbreaks, health-care workers and recent international travellers.
  • The emergency department at the Rocky Mountain House Health Centre was closed for 16 hours this week due to a shortage of doctors after many had to self-isolate or be home with children during online schooling.
  • Some physicians in the Rocky Mountain House area worry the closure will not be an isolated incident, and told CBC News this week that in spite of active recruitment there are upcoming shifts left unfilled.

(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:

  • Albertans who have one of the very few conditions that would qualify them for a medical exemption from mandatory masking laws will have to produce a confirmation letter from a physician, nurse practitioner or psychologist as of May 13, the province says. 
  • The list of very limited medical conditions that might qualify for a mask exemption includes people with some mental illnesses, cognitive impairment, developmental delay, sensory processing disorders, facial trauma or recent surgery, contact dermatitis or allergic reactions to mask materials, and clinically significant respiratory distress.
  • The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the move was prompted because of recent abuses by people who don't qualify for medical mask exemptions, and to help frontline enforcement teams verify when people do have legitimate medical exemptions.
  • Simmering discontent within the United Conservative Party caucus boiled over on May 13 into an open call for Premier Jason Kenney's resignation by backbencher Todd Loewen, the MLA for Central Peace-Notley and caucus chair until he quit. 
  • Drew Barnes, the MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, was also expelled from caucus over criticisms that the two divided the party and undermined government leadership by repeatedly attacking their own party's COVID-19 public health restrictions, which they felt were too stringent.
  • The expulsions came after 18 UCP backbench members broke with Kenney's leadership in early April over health-care restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. They said the rules were needlessly restrictive and infringed on personal freedoms.
  • The government introduced a bundle of tougher public-health restrictions again on 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
  • The full list of current restrictions is available on the province's website.

The latest on vaccines:

  • Alberta began offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone 12 and over as of Monday.
  • 2,086,589 vaccine doses had been administered as of May 15, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
  • 40.6 per cent of Albertans had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

WATCH | Reassurance for those who received AstraZeneca vaccine:

Reassurance for those who received AstraZeneca vaccine

CBC News

3 months ago
1:17
Ontario's outbreak response co-ordinator, Dr. Dirk Huyer, says taking a first dose AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine was "so much the right thing" for people to have done — and explains why. 1:17

  • 325,409 Albertans had been fully immunized (two doses). 
  • Alberta Health said this week that it would no longer be giving the first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to new patients since its supply was down to roughly 8,400 doses and i wasn't clear when future shipments would arrive. The remaining supply was to be used for second doses.
  • The latest CBC Calgary: The Road Ahead survey shows 20 per cent of Albertans have adopted a wait-and-see approach to vaccination, with another 14 per cent saying they refuse to get vaccinated outright. 
  • While it is difficult to explain exactly why any one individual is vaccine hesitant, there are clear patterns, CBC data journalist John Santos found with a recent poll. And, those patterns show how politicized the COVID-19 pandemic has become. Find out more.

See which regions are being hit hardest:

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

  • Calgary zone: 10,908 active cases, down from 11,367 active cases reported Friday (76,900 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 5,140, down from 5,278 (68,067 recovered).
  • North zone: 3,382, down from 3,496 (20,750 recovered).
  • South zone: 1,152, down from 1,216 (10,466 recovered).
  • Central zone: 2,398, down from 2,500 (16,489 recovered).
  • Unknown: 13, down from 16 (16 recovered).

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

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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