Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, May 18

A Calgary mayoralty candidate and a pastor arrested for allegedly violating COVID-19 laws over the weekend have been released from custody, and the province says the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds has more than doubled over the past month.

Alberta ICUs treating more patients than at any time in history, AHS says

'It’s a special occasion. I have the dress. I might as well wear it out somewhere,' said Alberta resident Muriel Charlebois, 15, who wore her Grade 9 grad dress to get the COVID-19 vaccine. (AHS)

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported 877 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and four more deaths.
  • There were 20,013 active cases. Alberta continues to have the highest active-case rate — in other words, active cases per 100,000 people — of all provinces and territories in Canada.
  • The rate of active cases was 452 per 100,000 people in Alberta. 
  • The test positivity rate was 11.4 per cent.
  • There were 691 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 187 people in intensive care
  • Over the past month, the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds has more than doubled, Dr. Verna Yiu, president and chief executive officer of AHS, said Monday at a news conference. "That is easily the most ICU patients that we have ever seen in our health-care system and definitely higher than what we have seen in waves one and two," Yiu said.
  • There have now been 2,152 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.
  • 198,394 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.

'COVID is everywhere,' Alberta premier says

5 months ago
Premier Jason Kenney says COVID-19 isn't an urban issue, it's an issue for all of Alberta and it's become a big problem for rural areas that are experiencing among the highest transmission rates in the province. 3:13

The latest on restrictions:

  • A Calgary mayoralty candidate and a pastor arrested for allegedly violating COVID-19 laws over the weekend have been released from custody. Police allege Kevin J. Johnston, who is running in this fall's municipal election, was allegedly in violation of a court order when he attended illegal gatherings Saturday. Pastor Tim Stephens was arrested for organizing a church service at Fairview Baptist Church that police allege failed to comply with public health orders.
  • 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.
  • 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.

(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. Since then, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, says half of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
  • 2,217,323 vaccine doses had been administered as of May 17, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
  • 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 Tuesday.

  • Calgary zone: 9,316 active cases, down from 9,912 active cases reported on Monday (79,638 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 4,656 down from 4,930 (69,270 recovered).
  • North zone: 2,991, down from 3,192 (21,561 recovered).
  • South zone: 985, down from 1,039 (10,767 recovered).
  • Central zone: 2,054, down from 2,183 (17,141 recovered).
  • Unknown: 28, down from 32 (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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