What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Wednesday, Sept. 30

Alberta's largest active COVID-19 outbreak, at the Foothills hospital in Calgary, continues to grow, with four deaths and 63 confirmed cases, while Alberta reported 153 new cases of the illness provincewide.

64 people are being treated in Alberta hospitals for the illness, including 13 in ICU

An undated scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow), also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML/Reuters)

The latest:

  • A total of 63 cases are now tied to the outbreaks at Calgary's Foothills hospital: 33 patients, including four who have died, 28 health-care workers, and two visitors who were in contact with patients linked to the outbreaks. Another 154 staff, bringing the total to 290, are self-isolating. 
  • Another 153 people in Alberta tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total active cases to 1,582, up 11 since the last update on Tuesday.
  • One more person has died, a man in his 70s in the Edmonton area, bringing the total deaths to 267. 
  • Across the province, a total of 43 schools have reported outbreaks of two to four cases.
  • Alberta labs have now performed more than one million tests. 

What you need to know today in Alberta:

A total of 63 patients, staff and visitors have tested positive for COVID-19 at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. It's the second largest outbreak tied to a health-care institution in the province since the pandemic began.

Alberta Health Services said Wednesday there are a total of 33 positive patient cases linked to the outbreaks, 28 positive health-care workers, as well as two positive visitors. 

Four patients have died, including a man in his 70s whose death was announced on the weekend, an 82-year-old man who had been in a cardiac unit suffering from congestive heart failure since August and a woman in her 70s in the cardiac unit. 

As of Wednesday, 290 health-care workers were self-isolating. AHS said that number would be updated twice weekly.

An outbreak has also been declared in one unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. According to Alberta Health Services, the outbreak involves three health-care workers. At-risk patients in the unit have been tested and no positive COVID-19 cases have been identified among patients. AHS did not identify which health unit was affected.

The largest outbreak at a health-care institution so far in the province involved the Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton, which has reopened after closing its doors to new patients in early July in response to a full-facility outbreak that killed 11 and infected 58.

There are 1,582 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta as of Wednesday. Of the 64 people in hospital, 13 are in intensive care.

Here's the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Wednesday:

  • Edmonton zone: 832, up by 17 from Tuesday's update.
  • Calgary zone: 585, up by 11.
  • North zone: 108, down by 12.
  • South zone: 37, down by 3.
  • Central zone: 19, down by 2.
  • Unknown: 1, unchanged.

A UCP MLA is facing criticism after he suggested people receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit were using the funds for Cheezies, cartoons and illegal drugs.

The word "Cheezies" trended on Twitter in Alberta after video of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland UCP MLA Shane Getson was posted by the Alberta NDP Tuesday.

Despite thousands of complaints of people not following COVID-19 restrictions, RCMP and Edmonton police have handed out only 40 tickets since the spring.

AHS said it received 5,100 reports of a "concern about a business or public place that is not following restrictions," between May 23 and Sept. 22. 

RCMP Cpl. Deanna Fontaine, a media relations officer, said officers issued 20 tickets for violations under the Alberta Public Health Act or the Federal Quarantine Act between mid-May and end of September.

Those fines were related to U.S. travellers contravening border control orders, residents not complying with foreign travel quarantine orders and others not adhering to physical distancing requirements.

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Oct. 8. (CBC)

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

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 8:19 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 158,758 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 134,971 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 9,333.

Health Canada regulators approved Wednesday the ID NOW rapid COVID-19 testing device for use in this country — a move that could result in millions more tests for communities across the country grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The House of Commons has unanimously passed legislation authorizing new benefits for workers left jobless or underemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the process, the minority Liberal government has survived its first pandemic-era confidence test, assuring at least for now that there will be no election as COVID-19 cases spike across the country.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program — the federal program designed to ease the pressure on pandemic-damaged businesses by covering a portion of their rent — expires at midnight tonight, leaving many Canadian businesses in the dark about what Ottawa has planned to replace it.

CECRA covered up to six months of rent by extending forgivable loans for up to half the value of the monthly rent, in exchange for the landlord cutting rent.

Canada's economy continued its recovery in July from the first wave of COVID-19, with the country's gross domestic product expanding by three per cent.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that all 20 sectors of the economy grew as businesses continued to reopen and tried to get back to some sense of normal after lockdowns in March and April.

In Ontario, officials reported 625 additional cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as provincial health officials said new daily cases could reach 1,000 during the first two weeks of October if current trends continue.

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services' latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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