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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, Oct. 26

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said at a press conference Tuesday that since launching the restrictions exemption program, vaccinations have picked up and about 505,000 first and second doses have been administered over the last six weeks.

Alberta reported 442 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday with a positivity rate of 6%

Medical staff work at an intensive care unit in Alberta during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said on Tuesday that 836 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and 183 in ICU. (AHS)

The latest on COVID-19 in Alberta:

  • Alberta reported 442 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
  • The positivity rate was 6.0 per cent.
  • The total number of active cases in Alberta is 9,267.
  • Since the pandemic began, 3,063 Albertans have died of COVID, with 12 new deaths reported Tuesday. 
  • 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.
  • 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 Oct. 11-17 was 0.85, with a confidence interval between 0.83 and 0.88. 
  • 308,880 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.​​​​
  • The province reported Monday there were 836 COVID patients in hospital and 183 in intensive care.
  • An outbreak has been declared in the acute care unit at Rocky Mountain House Health Centre, says Alberta Health Services. There are currently 32 confirmed cases, including 17 patients and 15 staff. The hospital has paused admissions and is diverting obstetrical patients to other facilities, such as Red Deer.
  • Two doctors who treat patients from rural areas say a fifth wave may be inevitable if people in those communities do not get vaccinated at a faster pace.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday Alberta did not see an increase in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving, but health officials continue to monitor for any possible "secondary impact."
  • Hinshaw tweeted Monday that of the 182 in ICU, 87 per cent are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
  • "We are incredibly fortunate to have an effective and widely available tool to prevent the vast majority of these serious outcomes. The benefit of vaccines is clear in the numbers that we post online every day," Hinshaw said Tuesday.
  • "For example, in the last three months, people over 80 years old who weren't vaccinated were 12 times more likely to die from COVID than those who were fully vaccinated.
  • With pressure easing slightly on ICUs, AHS is reducing available surge beds to redeploy staff back to caring for non-COVID patients who need surgeries and procedures completed, an AHS spokes person said Monday. 
  • AHS said they will maintain ICU capacity above daily demand to a planned maximum of 380 beds as long as staff and physician availability allows, and will readjust plans as needed if COVID cases rise again.
  • Across the province, there are 341 general adult ICU beds open, including 173 additional spaces (more than twice the baseline 173 general adult ICU beds). This is 35 fewer surge ICU spaces than the peak of 376.
  • 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.
  • 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 says 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.

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

  • Starting Oct. 25, Albertans aged 12 and older will need to provide proof of full vaccination — two COVID-19 vaccine doses — to access restaurants, movies, sporting events and other businesses provincewide operating under the province's Restrictions Exemption Program.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated can still opt to provide a privately-paid negative COVID-19 test from within the previous 72 hours or valid proof of a medical exemption.
  • Kenney's government imposed the 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
  • 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. 
  • AHS is extending the deadline for employees, medical and midwifery staff, students, volunteers and contracted healthcare providers to comply with its mandatory immunization policy until Nov. 30.
  • Four Alberta doctors are suing the provincial health authority and its president over its mandatory workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy. 
  • About 92 per cent of all staff at Alberta Health Services have submitted proof they have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccinations as required under a policy introduced in August, Yiu told a news conference on Oct. 19.
  • Seven per cent of staff have yet to submit proof of vaccination, while less than one per cent — about 1,200 staffers — have requested accommodation on medical or religious grounds.
  • Yiu said 61 employees have resigned their positions specifically because of the vaccination policy. That includes 31 staffers in clinical roles; 11 of them are registered nurses.

WATCH | AHS CEO says vast majority of AHS workers are fully vaccinated:

AHS CEO breaks down staff vaccination rates

9 months ago
Duration 2:48
Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, says 92 per cent of AHS employees are fully vaccinated and doesn’t believe the vaccination policy will have a significant impact on the ability to provide health care.
  • Hinshaw announced new measures for continuing care facilities that start Oct. 25. All visitors will be required to wear a mask in all indoor areas of the building, including in residents' rooms. All residents must also quarantine after returning from a hospital stay of 24 hours or more until they get a negative COVID-19 test result.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    The latest on vaccines:

    • 67.3 per cent of the province's total population have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or 79.2 per cent of eligible Albertans.
    • Out of the province's total population, 73.8 per cent have received at least one dose, or 86.7 per cent of those eligible.
    • Canada-wide, 77.4 per cent of the total population have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 73.2 per cent of the total population are fully vaccinated, according to the CBC's vaccine tracker. Among those eligible, 88.4 per cent have had one dose and 83.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.
    • Hinshaw said on Tuesday that since launching the restrictions exemption program, vaccinations have picked up and around 505,000 first and second doses have been administered over the last six weeks. 
    • Alberta has expanded 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.
    • 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 Tuesday:

    • Edmonton zone: 2,166.
    • Calgary zone: 2,334.
    • North zone: 1,929.
    • Central zone: 1,836.
    • South zone: 992.
    • Unknown: 10.

    Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

    With files from The Canadian Press

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