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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Oct. 17

Alberta's ICU capacity, including additional surge beds, is currently at 74 per cent, AHS says.

Without surge beds Alberta ICU capacity would be at 161 per cent

Medical staff work at an intensive care unit in Alberta. As of Saturday there are 279 patients in ICU, most of whom are being treated for COVID-19. (AHS)

The latest on COVID-19 in Alberta:

  • There are currently 279 patients in ICU, the vast majority of whom are being treated for COVID-19, Alberta Health Services said Saturday.
  • ICU capacity, including the 203 additional surge beds, is currently at 74 per cent. Without the additional surge spaces, ICU capacity in Alberta would be at 161 per cent, AHS said.
  • Earlier this week, Alberta Health Services president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said the number of people with COVID-19 in ICUs is dropping, but she warns Albertans not to become complacent.
  • AHS is still uncertain about the impact the Thanksgiving long weekend may have had on COVID-19 numbers, she said.
  • A total of 2,946 Albertans have died of COVID, with 16 new deaths reported Friday. 
  • Alberta reported 1,051 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday out of 14,054 tests.
  • The positivity rate was 7.5 per cent.
  • As of Friday, the total number of active cases in Alberta is 12,978.
  • Alberta has seen a drop in known active COVID-19 cases since the start of October, when there were 20,215. But federal data shows Alberta still leads the country by a large margin, accounting for over a third of active cases in Canada.
  • Alberta is reporting an R-value below 1. The R-value is the average number of COVID-19 infections transmitted by each diagnosed case.
  • An R-value below 1 means transmission is no longer growing. Provincewide, the R-value for Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 was 0.92, with a confidence interval between 0.90 and 0.94. In Edmonton zone, the R-value was 0.86 (0.83-0.90 confidence interval), while in Calgary zone it was 0.93 (0.92 to 0.97). The rest of Alberta was 0.94 (0.92-0.97 confidence interval). 
  • 298,328 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.​​​​
  • Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw gave an update on COVID-19 Thursday.
  • Hinshaw started off the conference by apologizing to the family of the 14-year-old whose death was reported in the COVID-19 update Tuesday.
  • "The pain of losing a child is terrible enough, without having that loss compounded by a public debate about the circumstances," Hinshaw said. 
  • Hinshaw said she has received additional information that shows COVID-19 was not a primary or secondary cause of death of the 14-year-old. The death will be removed from the reporting. 
  • She said that going forward, the province will not report any deaths in those younger than 18 years old without a review process. 
  • Hinshaw explained the reporting process for COVID-19 deaths. She says reporting includes deaths that have COVID as a primary or secondary cause of death, according to health-care teams involved in cases.
  • Doctors are resuming some surgeries after bookings had been scaled back by 75 per cent. But there is no timeline on when the province will be able to return to normal surgical volumes, Yiu said. 
  • The Alberta government has released an app to scan and verify QR code vaccine records. The AB COVID Records Verifier app is available to download on Apple and Android devices. 
  • Albertans can get their enhanced vaccine records with a QR code online at alberta.ca/CovidRecords.
  • Alberta Health Services said Saturday that its scientific advisory group has updated its review into using ivermectin to treat COVID-19. AHS said existing studies have problems and the available evidence doesn't deem it safe. 
  • AHS said studies to date into using ivermectin, predominantly used in livestock species like horses and cows to control intestinal parasites and some skin parasites, on the novel coronavirus have inadequate controls and flawed design.
  • On Thursday, Hinshaw said Alberta hospitals have seen people with extreme adverse effects after taking ivermectin.
  • Kenney said during a Facebook live event Wednesday night that he's frustrated with people who continue to tout ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of COVID. 
  • "I think there is a very strong overlay between proponents of ivermectin and those who refuse the vaccine. And I've just got to be blunt — I cannot get my head around this, that there would be such a deep distrust for proven safe vaccines which have been used more than four billion times around the world and yet many of the same people want us to use a veterinary parasitic drug that is not authorized," he said. 

WATCH | Dr. Hinshaw says the province has changed reporting for pediatric deaths:

Dr. Deena Hinshaw apologizes for mistake in cause of death of 14-year-old

9 months ago
Duration 3:45
'The pain of losing a child is terrible enough without having that loss compounded by a public debate about the circumstances,' Hinshaw said Thursday. On Tuesday, she had announced that COVID-19 was a contributing factor in the child's death. It was not.

The latest on Alberta's COVID-19 response: ​​​​​​

  • The City of Calgary is opening applications for a new grant program for local business operators, owners and entities that are impacted by the Provincial Restrictions Exemption Program. The Calgary Business Support Grant will give $2,000 per physical permanent premise.
  • COVID-19 modelling shows Alberta may have finally reached its pandemic peak, and if the province leaves restrictions in place and continues to increase vaccination rates, infections and hospitalizations will continue to decline.
  • The City of Calgary will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination by Nov. 1. 
  • This applies to all City of Calgary employees, regardless of workplace or worksite location, including those who are remote working or have a telework agreement in place.
  • The Calgary Catholic School Division board of trustees voted in favour of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees. 
  • The vaccine mandate applies to all all staff, including teachers, educational assistants, support staff, and custodial. 
  • The province announced new measures to protect children and youth from COVID-19 on Oct. 5. Contact tracing in schools will be phased in, outbreaks will be declared in schools, and rapid-test kits will be made available for parents to test younger children.
  • The Calgary Board of Education will now require mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 for employees, volunteers and partners.
  • Politicians and staff at the Alberta Legislature will all be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the time the sitting resumes on Oct. 25, government House leader Jason Nixon said Tuesday.
  • Alberta public sector workers will soon be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • The policy, approved by the province's COVID-19 cabinet committee will affect 25,500 provincial employees who must all submit proof of full vaccination by Nov. 30.
  • Employees can be exempted if they obtain an accommodation based on the Alberta Human Rights Act or if they choose to produce a negative PCR test result, obtained at employee's expense and done within 72 hours of every scheduled workday.
  • Kenney also said he asked for an inventory of the Johnson and Johnson one-dose vaccine, noting that some vaccine-hesitant Albertans have expressed a willingness to take this version. The Government of Canada has committed to securing the vaccines, but currently have no supply.

WATCH | Premier Jason Kenney announces launch of vaccination proof scanner:

Proof of vaccination scanner launches in Alberta

9 months ago
Duration 1:47
Premier Jason Kenney announced that after Nov. 15, the scannable QR code will become the only acceptable record of vaccination. Health minister Jason Copping encouraged everyone to get their QR code vaccination record.
  • Kenney's government imposed a voluntary vaccine passport system that took effect Sept. 20 to combat the fourth wave of COVID-19.
  • Operators who are eligible for the program, but opt not to take part, will have to follow measures that include capacity limits and physical distancing.
  • A full list of restrictions and exemptions is available on the government's website
  • Following that announcement, on Sept. 22, Calgary city council approved a bylaw that brings in consistent application of the province's vaccine passport program for many types of businesses in the city. 

    The latest on vaccines:

    • 65.3 per cent of the province's total population have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or 76.7 per cent of eligible Albertans.
    • Out of the province's total population, 73 per cent have received at least one dose, or 85.8 per cent of those eligible.
    • Canada-wide, 77 per cent of the total population have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 72 per cent of the total population are fully vaccinated, according to the CBC's vaccine tracker. Among those eligible, 88 per cent have had one dose and 82.2 per cent are fully vaccinated. 
    • Alberta is expanding the number of immunocompromised people who are eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The full list of eligible people can be found on the province's website
    • In addition, mRNA doses — that's Pfizer or Moderna — are available to Albertans travelling to a jurisdiction that does not accept visitors vaccinated with mixed doses.
    • Dr. Hinshaw says pregnant people are at high risk of very serious illness and are urging them to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. 

    See which regions are being hit hardest:

    Here is the latest detailed regional breakdown of active cases, as reported by the province on Friday:

    • Edmonton zone: 3,050.
    • Calgary zone: 3,295.
    • North zone: 2,588.
    • Central zone: 2,562.
    • South zone: 1,463.
    • Unknown: 20.

    Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

    With files from The Canadian Press

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