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

The Alberta government says students and teachers should expect a safe return to the classroom next week, as new case numbers of COVID-19 continue to decline and as the province reaches a key milestone — more than half of those aged 12 and over are now vaccinated with at least one dose.

1 vaccine dose given to more than half Alberta's eligible population

'Because I want to get out of this pandemic faster, be able to go outside,' said Alberta resident Hannah McHugh, 19, about why she got her COVID-19 vaccination. (Alberta Health Services)

The latest on restrictions:

  • Almost all Alberta K-12 students are to return to classrooms next week with the exception of students in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, who will stay home one more week.
  • Alberta Health Services says it is aware of individuals on social media claiming to have booked multiple COVID-19 vaccination appointments in an attempt to prevent other Albertans from receiving their dose. AHS says it has shared this information with law enforcement and is working to ensure participating pharmacies are aware. A system is in place to prevent double bookings both online and through 811. AHS says it is monitoring no-shows to see if false bookings are being made, but there hasn't been any increase in no-shows.
  • The City of Calgary says it won't create a voter list for candidates in a decision that appears aimed at protecting the privacy of voters. The move comes after reports last week that a mayoral candidate, Kevin J. Johnston, was attempting to track down addresses of Alberta Health Services employees and threatening to show up at their homes armed. 
  • 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.
  • Ty and Gail Northcott, organizers of a rodeo earlier this month near Bowden, Alta., to protest provincial COVID-19 restrictions pleaded not guilty on Monday to violating Alberta's Public Health Act by holding the event.
  • The Alberta government says students and teachers should expect a safe return to the classroom next week. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in a news conference Tuesday schools have not been a significant driver in spreading COVID-19.
  • Hinshaw and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange will provide an update on the return to in-school learning and the latest COVID-19 numbers at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. CBC will have live coverage on the website and on Facebook.
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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.

Watch: Dr. Hinshaw speaks about a return to in-class instruction next week:

Dr. Hinshaw supports return to school plan

5 months ago
1:55
With students set to return to in-class instruction next week, Alberta's chief medical officer of health says schools have not been a driver of COVID-19 transmission and she supports a safe return to the classroom for students and teachers. 1:55

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported 908 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and six more deaths.
  • There were 18,813 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 425 per 100,000 people in Alberta. 
  • The test positivity rate was 9.1 per cent.
  • There were 685 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 185 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 2,158 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.
  • 200,496 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:

  • The province says more than half of those aged 12 and over now vaccinated with at least one dose.
  • Alberta began offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone 12 and over as of last week. 
  • 2,271,955 vaccine doses had been administered as of May 18, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
  • The province has received enough vaccines to give 54 per cent of its population a single dose.
  • 332,276 Albertans had been fully immunized (two doses). That's 7.4 per cent of the population.
  • 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 Wednesday.

  • Calgary zone: 8,683 active cases, down from 9,316 active cases reported on Tuesday (80,609 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 4,446 down from 4,656 (69,755 recovered).
  • North zone: 2,780 down from 2,991 (21,910 recovered).
  • South zone: 925, down from 985 (10,767 recovered).
  • Central zone: 1,978 down from 2,054 (17,324 recovered).
  • Unknown: 19, down from 28 (18 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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