Calgary·THE LATEST

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, July 14

Alberta's chief medical officer of health is "strongly recommending" that people wear non-medical masks whenever they visit indoor public places where physical distancing may not be possible.

As COVID cases increase, Alberta expands free mask program to more outlets

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, stressed the importance of wearing masks at a virtual press conference on Monday afternoon. (Sam Martin/CBC, Art Raham/CBC, Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • As of this afternoon, there are 701 active cases reported in Alberta, with 163 deaths. At this time, 8,048 people have recovered.
  • There are 55 people in hospital, 13 in intensive care, and there have been two new deaths, both in Edmonton. One of those deaths, a woman in her 90s, is linked to an ongoing outbreak at Edmonton's Misericordia Community Hospital. The other death, a woman in her 80s, is linked to the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre — the first COVID-19 death linked to that outbreak.
  • Cases of COVID-19 in Alberta saw an uptick last weekend, with 54 new cases reported on Friday, 96 new cases on Saturday and 80 new cases on Sunday. 
  • Premier Jason Kenney accused the federal government of preventing tech companies like Google and Apple from working with provinces to improve their contact tracing apps.
  • Sylvan Lake officials are asking the province for help with crowd control and encouraging beachgoers who may have mingled too closely on the weekend to get tested for COVID-19. 
  • A&W, Tim Hortons and McDonald's restaurants with drive-thrus will again be offering packages of free masks to customers in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19. 
  • While the provincial government's economic recovery plan is moving forward, Kenney said on Monday there is no target date for Stage 3 of reopening.
  • Group campsites at provincial parks have opened for reservations for the first time this season.
  • Edmonton has been announced as an NHL hub city, but a local doctor is concerned it could normalize the pandemic.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced at a virtual news conference on Monday that cases of COVID-19 in Alberta are increasing, with 54 new cases reported Friday, 96 new cases Saturday and 80 new cases Sunday. 

While the provincial government's economic recovery plan is moving forward, Premier Jason Kenney said there is no target date for Stage 3 of reopening due to the "concerning" increase in cases of COVID-19 over the weekend.

Kenney urged Albertans to stay vigilant after photos of a crowded beach at Sylvan Lake surfaced online and sparked COVID-19 concerns from residents and politicians. 

Town officials are asking the province for "clear direction" on crowd control. In the meantime, visitors who feel they may have been exposed to the virus are encouraged by town officials to get tested. 

Kenney also accused the federal government of preventing tech companies like Google and Apple from working with provinces to improve their contact tracing apps.

Calgary's mayor is musing about the possibility of making masks mandatory in certain situations and says he could bring forward a draft bylaw to council on July 20. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Alberta's app, called ABTraceTogether, uses Bluetooth technology to identify other nearby smart phones that also have the app installed. But Hinshaw said that the app doesn't function on iPhones unless the app is open and the phone is unlocked.

A report released last week by Alberta's privacy commissioner indicated that leaving the app open could be a privacy concern. Last month, the federal government announced it would be developing a national contact tracing app to be used across the country.

A&W, Tim Hortons and McDonald's restaurants with drive-thrus are again offering free packages of the masks to customers in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19. About 20 million non-medical, single-use masks will be served up at more than 600 outlets across Alberta, the province said in a statement. 

Masks will also be provided to municipalities without access to the participating restaurants, including First Nations and Métis settlements, places of worship, transit services, shelters and long-term care facilities.

 

COVID-19 restrictions that had kept provincial campgrounds empty or operating below capacity have now been lifted, and shared campsites are once again open to tent campers, trailer adventurers, family reunions and small special events. Reservations can be made on the Alberta Parks website Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca or by calling 1-877-537-2757.

While provincial campgrounds are now operating at full capacity, sites remain closed to out-of-province campers, comfort camping remains a no-go, some parks facilities remain shuttered and visitors are strongly encouraged to practise physical distancing.

After Edmonton was named a hub city for the NHL last week, Dr. Hakique Virani, a clinical associate professor with the University of Alberta's faculty of medicine, told CBC News that he is concerned people are waiting for a signal that life is returning to normal after the pandemic — and could interpret hockey's return as that signal.

"If it feels to people like a big green light that COVID is tempering or that it's going away, it's unfortunately the wrong message," Virani said. 

Pictures from Sylvan Lake show the beached crowded with people on Saturday, sparking some COVID-19 concerns and an online uproar. (Supplied by Greg Dickson)

As of Tuesday, this was the breakdown of active cases across the province:

  • Calgary zone: 295.
  • Edmonton zone: 198.
  • South zone: 104.
  • North zone: 50.
  • Central zone: 48.
  • Unknown: 6.

What you need to know today in Canada:

The federal government has announced it will extend the emergency wage subsidy program to December of this year.  The program covers 75 per cent of wages, up to a weekly maximum of $847, for workers at eligible companies and non-profits affected by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports of online sexual exploitation of Canadian children have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic as abusers take advantage of the fact that kids are spending more time online. Stephen Sauer, director of Cybertip.ca, said his organization saw an 81 per cent spike over April, May and June in reports from youth who had been sexually exploited, and reports of people trying to sexually abuse children.

As the volume of travellers entering Canada through the U.S. has increased in recent weeks, public health officials are being placed at land borders to bolster screening for COVID-19.

As of 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 108,387 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 8,834.

A large swath of Ontario will move to Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan on July 17, with the exception of the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of southern Ontario, which will remain in Stage 2 for now.

The province's plan will allow for activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows and the reopening of movie theatres and playgrounds — albeit with significant health and safety measures in place, including physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and Plexiglas barriers.

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, available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. 

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.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now