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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, March 24

New money for agencies that work with vulnerable Albertans, a continued rise in cases across the province and new guidance for self-isolation.

Government providing new grants to agencies that work with vulnerable Albertans as cases rise

The Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre pictured March 5, 2018. Agencies and governments are working to prevent and prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in the homeless community. (Colin Hall/CBC )

The latest:

  • There are 57 new cases in Alberta, bringing the total to 358.
  • On Tuesday, Alberta chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Alberta now has seen its second death from COVID-19, a woman in her 80s at McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary. Two other residents and a staff member have tested positive, and 11 others at the centre are showing symptoms.
  • The care centre said the woman developed symptoms on March 22 and tested positive on March 23. Residents in the affected area of the home are isolated in their rooms, and staff are wearing PPE. 
  • WestJet laid off 6,900 employees on Tuesday, almost half of its entire workforce, due to impact of COVID-19.
  • Parks Canada is closing vehicle access to national parks, national historic sties and marine conservation areas starting on Wednesday
  • Agencies that work with vulnerable Albertans like the homeless will be able to apply for $30 million in new grants this week.
  • Suncor is the latest energy company to announce a massive spending cut in the wake of low crude prices and the impact of the virus. 
  • The four First Nations of Maskwcis have declared a state of emergency
  • Alberta realtors are now banned from hosting open houses 

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said in addition to new testing protocols unveiled yesterday, there would be increased screening of workers at hospitals. 

The Calgary health zone continues to lead the province in cases, with 214 confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of 358 in Alberta. (CBC)

She also announced that those with mild symptoms only need isolate for 10 days, as opposed to 14, although if symptoms persist, so should the isolation. 

WATCH | How one person can spread COVID-19 to others:

An infectious disease specialist explains how one person not staying home can contribute to the spread of COVID-19.  1:40

Some nurses are refusing to resume testing for COVID-19 without being provided N95 masks, despite an AHS investigation ruling it was safe. Occupational Health and Safety will now investigate the matter. 

Of the 358 cases, the majority are in the Calgary zone:

  • 214 cases in the Calgary zone. 
  • 86 in the Edmonton zone. 
  • 28 in the central zone.
  • 8 in the south zone.
  • 20 in the north zone.
The province has started breaking down known cases by smaller regions, like in Calgary, where there are more cases than other parts of Alberta. (CBC)

What you need to know today in Canada:

The Liberal government backed down Monday night on a plan that would have given it broad spending and taxation powers without Parliamentary oversight

Parliament is, however, expected to pass legislation that frees up billions in spending intended to help with the crushing economic consequences of the pandemic. 

Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled a bill to spend up to $82 billion in financial supports and deferred taxes on Tuesday. But Parliament is now suspended while parties negotiate the finer points of the bill, particularly a section that grants unprecedented spending authority to Morneau. 

On Tuesday morning, Parks Canada said it would restrict vehicle access to all national parks, national historic sites and marine conservation areas starting on March 25. Highways and roadways that pass through parks will remain open. 

WATCH | Why soap is better than gloves as protection from COVID-19:

Dr. Samir Gupta explains why most people are better off washing their hands with soap and water than wearing gloves for protection against COVID-19. 1:54

As of Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. ET, Canada had nearly 2,100 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. Here's a look at the number of cases — including deaths and recoveries — by province.

  • British Columbia: 472 confirmed cases, including 100 resolved and 13 deaths.
  • Ontario: 504 confirmed cases, including eight resolved and six deaths.
  • Alberta: 358 confirmed cases, including three resolved and two deaths.
  • Quebec: 628 confirmed cases, including one resolved and four deaths.
  • Saskatchewan: 66 confirmed and presumptive cases.
  • Manitoba: 20 confirmed and presumptive cases.
  • New Brunswick: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases.
  • Nova Scotia: 41 confirmed and presumptive cases.
  • Prince Edward Island: Three cases the province lists as positive.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 24 confirmed and presumptive cases.
  • Northwest Territories: One confirmed case.
  • Yukon: Two confirmed cases.
  • Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed cases.

Self-assessment:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

Testing is focused on individuals who have developed symptoms within 14 days of returning from travel outside Canada, or who have had contact with someone diagnosed with the illness.

WATCH | What to do if you're self-isolating at home for COVID-19:

You might choose to self-isolate at home if you’ve been exposed, or think you’ve been exposed, to COVID-19. Ellen Mauro explains what to do. 1:50

The province "strongly requests" that Albertans who have returned to Canada after March 12 self-isolate for 14 days. 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.

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

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