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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday, May 17

A number of higher-profile COVID-19 scofflaws have been arrested and/or charged in recent days — including a pastor and a mayoral candidate in Calgary on the weekend — as the Alberta government cracks down on repeat and flagrant offenders and total cases continue to drop after stricter public health measures were imposed.

Calgary pastor and mayoral candidate both arrested for breaking pandemic gathering rules

Artur Pawlowski, the preacher at Street Church in southeast Calgary, and his brother Dawid Pawlowski, shown during their arrest in Calgary on May 8, are among the higher-profile figures who have been arrested and/or charged in May after the Alberta government said it would heighten enforcement of COVID-19-related public health rules. (Artur Pawlowski TV/YouTube)

The latest on restrictions:

  • Calgary police arrested two more higher-profile people accused of repeatedly violating COVID-19 public safety restrictions over the weekend: Fairview Baptist Church Pastor Tim Stephens and mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston. Both have repeatedly said they've flouted the public health orders and police say Alberta Health Services considered enforcement a last resort after working to address ongoing concerns. A closure order has also been issued for the church.
  • Several other higher-profile COVID-19 scofflaws have also been arrested, charged and/or on trial in the past few weeks in Alberta after the United Conservative Party government said it was heightening enforcement against rule-breakers, especially flagrant and repeat offenders. Among them, police arrested Artur and Dawid Pawlowski, two organizers of a Calgary church service who have been defying public health restrictions throughout the pandemic; Chris Scott, the owner of the Whistle Stop Café in Mirror; and Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in the Edmonon-area, who went on trial in May after holding in-person church services for months that flouted the public health orders.
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  • Albertans who have one of the 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 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.
  • 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 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 100,000 people. 
  • The full list of current restrictions is available on the province's website.

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported 721 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and five more deaths.
  • The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,493.
  • There were 21,288 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 rate of active cases is 504 per 100,000 people. 
  • The test positivity rate was 10.3 per cent.
  • There were 678 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 181 people in intensive care
  • There have now been 2,148 COVID deaths
  • The latest R-value reported for the province was 0.84, meaning the virus is spreading to less than one person for each confirmed case.
  • 196,246 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19. 
  • Shoppers Drug Mart says it is now offering rapid antigen COVID-19 tests for asymptomatic people at all its pharmacies in Ontario and Alberta. The tests have to be purchased.

(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 began offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone 12 and over as of last week.
  • 2,189,999 vaccine doses had been administered as of May 17, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
  • 41.6 per cent of Albertans had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
  • The province has received enough vaccines to give 54 per cent of its population a single dose. The
    province has used 92.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply.
  • 328,414 Albertans had been fully immunized (two 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, data scientist 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 Monday.

  • Calgary zone: 9,912 active cases, down from 10,515 active cases reported on Sunday (78,681 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 4,930, down from 5,035 (68,742 recovered).
  • North zone: 3,192, down from 3,309 (21,224 recovered).
  • South zone: 1,039, down from 1,101 (10,669 recovered).
  • Central zone: 2,183, down from 2,291 (16,913 recovered).
  • Unknown: 32, up from 29 (17 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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