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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, Sept. 8

Another 619 people tested positive in Alberta for COVID-19 over the long weekend, and cases are showing up in schools around the province.

CBC News has confirmed 23 schools across Alberta have identified cases of COVID-19

Twenty-three Alberta schools have reported cases of COVID-19. The schools are working closely with AHS to 'ensure necessary measures are in place to protect all students.' (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The latest:

  • In total, 619 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Alberta over the long weekend, bringing the province's active case tally to 1,692.
  • CBC News has confirmed 23 schools across the province have identified cases of COVID-19 among their school populations, including nine schools in Calgary. 
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, says since Sept. 1, Alberta Health Services has reported 11 cases were present "while infectious" at 11 schools. 
  • There is a new outbreak at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, where seven staff have tested positive. 
  • On Monday, the province hit a new record for most tests completed in a single day, at 12,561.
  • Several staff members from the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton are in self-isolation after possible exposure to COVID-19 at a social gathering.
  • Residents and the families of residents of Edmonton's Good Samaritan Society, where 32 people have died of COVID-19, have launched an effort to bring a $20-million class-action lawsuit against the care centre.
  • 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.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

CBC News has confirmed 23 schools across the province have cases of COVID-19, including nine schools in Calgary.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, says the cases in schools are not unexpected.

"We know that in places where community transmission is rising that we will see cases coming into schools, and our job is to prevent that from spreading in the school. But it is also our collective job to try to bring that community transmission down so there is less likelihood of introduction into the school," she said.

In Edmonton, schools include Archbishop MacDonald High School, Louis St. Laurent, École Sainte-Jeanne-D'Arc and Ross Sheppard High, a public school in northwest Edmonton that has sent nearly 100 students into isolation.

Bowness High School, Bridlewood School, St. Angela School and Lester B. Pearson High School in Calgary, as well as Raymond High School in Raymond and Lawrence Grassi Middle School in Canmore, have all reported in letters to parents that a case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed.

(CBC)

Hinshaw said that students and staff are being asked to isolate if they come into close contact with an infectious case, which means spending 15 minutes or more near that person. She says as of yet, no one has picked up an infection from a school. 

AHS said that a single case in a school population is not considered an outbreak, so no case-specific details will be shared. The schools in southern Alberta will remain open to in-person learning as staff work closely with AHS to "ensure necessary measures are in place to protect all students."

Residents and families of residents of an Edmonton care centre where 32 people have died of COVID-19 have launched an effort to bring a $20-million class-action lawsuit against the Good Samaritan Society.

The plaintiffs — Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre residents and their families — allege that negligence and deficiencies in care contributed to residents contracting and in some cases dying of COVID-19. None of the allegations made in the filed statement of claim have been proven in court. 

Several staff members from the Misericordia Community Hospital are in self-isolation after possible exposure to COVID-19 at a social gathering.

Spokesperson Karen Diaper said in an emailed statement Monday that Covenant Health was aware of an "off-site social event that was attended by a number of staff last month." Diaper said that staff members were wearing masks and practicing physical distancing at the gathering.

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 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 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 Tuesday:

  • Calgary zone: 732, up from 638.
  • Edmonton zone: 648, up from 544.
  • North zone: 212, up from 171.
  • Central zone: 52, up from 40.
  • South zone: 38, up from 36.
  • Unknown: 10, up from 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 8:20 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 132,142 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 9,184.

Hoping to avoid what some have termed a "twindemic" — an influx of people becoming ill as influenza and the new coronavirus circulate at the same time — health experts say it's more important than ever to get the flu shot this season. 

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.

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.

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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