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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday, Sept. 7

Alberta Health Services is looking at a new method of testing for COVID-19 called pooled testing and hopes it will eventually reduce labour, supply use and even turnaround time.

AHS looking at new method of testing for COVID-19 in hopes of reducing labour, turnaround time

The Calgary Board of Education said students who registered late for bus service may have to wait up to eight weeks before they can get a seat due to COVID-19 safety protocols. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • New numbers from the long weekend will be released on Sept. 8.
  • The province's tally of active cases of COVID-19 continued to climb on Friday, with 164 new cases, bringing the total to 1,433, up from 1,415 the day before.
  • Alberta Health Services is looking at a new method of testing for COVID-19 called pooled testing and hopes it will eventually reduce labour, supply use and even turnaround time.
  • The Calgary Board of Education said students who registered late for bus service may have to wait up to eight weeks before they can get a seat due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Bowness High School in Calgary.
  • A meat-processing plant located north of Calgary is now connected to 74 cases of COVID-19, Alberta Health has confirmed.
  • The Calgary Drop-In Centre said that as of Wednesday five people staying in its main shelter downtown had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. One new case of COVID-19 was also reported at Calgary's Alpha House.
  • Calgary has 638 active cases as of Friday, down one from 639 on Thursday, after dipping below 300 in August.
  • The Edmonton zone increased to 544, from 527 on Thursday.
  • Alberta could scale back its relaunch in particular sectors should cases substantially increase, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, issued a warning to Albertans prior to the long weekend as the province reported 164 new cases.

"The number of cases being recorded today is a clear reminder that we cannot afford to be reckless," Hinshaw said.

Alberta Health Services is looking at pooled testing for COVID-19, which combines individual swab samples into a single batch for testing, and hopes it will eventually reduce labour, supply use and even turnaround time.

The program is geared toward asymptomatic testing, and the success of a widespread pooling strategy could mean a two point five to three-fold increase in testing capacity, currently at 8,500 to 10,000 per day, AHS said.

The Calgary Board of Education says families who registered late for yellow bus service can expect waits of up to two months before their child can get a seat, because the CBE is required to contact trace on all yellow school buses this year if a student or driver tests positive.

The CBE said given the significant volume of requests it's getting, and how each one needs to be addressed individually to meet the requirement, it may take between six and eight weeks to accommodate new registrations. 

Meanwhile, fears over the spread of COVID-19 on Edmonton school buses are contributing to a citywide driver shortage — and students are expected to face delays in getting to class for weeks to come.

(CBC)

Social assistance caseloads in Alberta have dropped dramatically during the pandemic, with the provincial government providing income support to roughly 10,000 fewer households since March.

Albertans who had previously been receiving income support from the province but started receiving federal CERB payments have seen the provincial benefits clawed back.

The province exempts some of the federal benefit from its income-support calculations, but for thousands of people receiving $2,000 per month under CERB, it adds up to a complete elimination of their provincial social assistance.

What back-to-school looks like in some Calgary schools

3 months agoVideo
2:46
The Calgary Board of Education released a how-to guide on what back to school will look like. Here's a look from elementary to high school. 2:46

CBC News is following four families as they navigate the return to school in the midst of the global pandemic, tracing how the reopening impacts them before and during the return. Here's the first instalment: Getting ready for school.

CBC Calgary also wants to hear from Alberta's parents, students and teachers in regards to how the process has gone so far.

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

  • Calgary zone: 638, down from 639 Friday.
  • Edmonton zone: 544, up from 527 Friday.
  • North zone: 171, down from 174.
  • Central zone: 40, up from 36.
  • South zone: 36, up from 35.
  • Unknown: 4.

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

(CBC)

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 9:30 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 131,895 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 116,357 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 9,181.

Nearly three-quarters of the 3.4 million Canadians who began working from home at the start of the pandemic were still working remotely in August, according to Labour Force Survey data released by Statistics Canada on Friday.

Another survey suggests many of those new remote employees would like to continue working from home indefinitely.

Since Canada imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions in late March, more than four million people have entered the country. 

While that's far fewer than normal, sightings of U.S. licence plates or international flights landing have been sparking concerns that foreigners have found ways to sneak in.

The World Health Organization does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year, a spokesperson said on Friday, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety.

Canada has announced that it has signed deals with four U.S. companies to reserve millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines under development in an effort to make sure Canadians are at "the front of the line" when a vaccine becomes available.

In a precedent-setting ruling, an Ontario Superior Court judge has sided with a parent who wants her son to return to school over the objections of the child's father, who insisted the child take his classes online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

With files from The Canadian Press

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