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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, July 23

Some students and teachers say they're worried about being able to maintain safe distancing when Alberta schools reopen. From July 7 to 21, Alberta recorded the most new cases, per capita, of all provinces, according to federally compiled data.

Local cases hit 666 as students and teachers express concern about safety of in-person classes

A teacher gives a lesson to elementary school children in eastern France, where classes reopened last month. (Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest:

  • Some students and teachers say they're worried about being able to maintain safe distancing when Alberta schools reopen.
  • Despite the increased COVID-19 case numbers, Alberta students are headed back to classrooms this fall — under what Education Minister Adriana LaGrange has referred to as "near-normal" daily operations with health measures.
  • The City of Calgary will make masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces starting Aug. 1.
  • The City of Calgary may discuss extending that mask bylaw to schools.
  • Alberta reported two more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday and 666 active cases of the illness.
  • The two new deaths were a woman in her 70s, linked to the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre, and a man in his 70s from South zone.
  • That brings the total number of active cases in the province to 1,293 — an increase of more than 500 cases since July 14.
  • As of Thursday, 106 people were being treated for the disease in Alberta hospitals, with 21 of them in ICU beds.
  • In Calgary, there are 20 people in hospital, and one in ICU.
  • Alberta Health has declared 16 regions around the province as under a "watch" for COVID-19, which means a rate of more than 50 cases per 100,000 people.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

The sharp rise in active COVID-19 cases over the past week should be seen as a "wake-up call" by every Albertan, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Thursday at a new conference.

From July 7 to 21, the province recorded the most new cases, per capita, of all provinces, according to federally compiled data. Alberta also saw the highest percentage of positive tests over that time.

The Alberta government announced Tuesday that students will resume in-person classes in September under Scenario 1 of the three possible scenarios that were announced in June. There have been calls to extend mandatory mask wearing, and teachers, parents and students have expressed concerns about social distancing.

The Alberta NDP unveiled Thursday what it calls an alternative to the government's school relaunch plan, which the opposition party says isn't sufficiently funded to ensure student and staff safety.

Though Calgary's numbers have been climbing fastest in Alberta, even rural areas are seeing rising numbers. The central zone, which has not seen high case numbers so far, now has 33 people in hospital, seven of them in the ICU.

Despite a "concerning" increase in new COVID-19 cases, Alberta will loosen restrictions next week on visits to continuing-care and nursing homes, the province's top doctor says.

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

  • Calgary zone: 666.
  • Edmonton zone: 232.
  • South zone: 134.
  • Central zone: 161.
  • North zone: 92.
  • Unknown: 8.

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau is facing calls for his resignation. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

An inmate at the Edmonton Remand Centre has tested positive for COVID-19, CBC News has learned, but the inmate was still in quarantine after recent admission when a symptom appeared and was isolated with no evidence of transmission within the centre.

What you need to know today in Canada:

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians could get a tax break for working from home during the pandemic. Tax experts are calling on the government to clarify the rules for the 'work-space-in-the-home' deduction.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is facing calls to resign after telling MPs that he cut a cheque for over $41,000 to repay travel expenses incurred by the WE organization related to two 2017 trips his family took with the organization.

WE Charity founders Craig and Marc Kielburger will appear before a House of Commons committee next week to answer questions about the Liberal government's partnership with the charity in a $900-million student grant program it was tasked with administering. 

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be eligible for a lucrative tax deduction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who received doses.

Out of the more than two million people who crossed the border into Canada since the start of strict quarantine laws, no one has been arrested and just a few have been fined for breaking the two-week isolation rule — figures the Public Health Agency of Canada says show the current strategy is working.

The agreement to restrict travel across the Canada-U.S. border will be extended into August. 

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 7 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada has seen 112,240 coronavirus infections. Provinces and territories listed 98,142 of those as recovered or resolved, with a total of 5,194 still active. A CBC News tally based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting indicates that 8,904 Canadians have died.

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.

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