Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday, Aug. 23

Calgary·THE LATEST

Emergency medicine doctors have written a letter to AHS calling for immediate action to address overwhelmed and understaffed emergency rooms.

Emergency medicine doctors write letter AHS CEO calling for immediate action to address overwhelmed ERs

Emergency room doctors have penned a letter to Alberta Health Services’ CEO, describing overwhelmed ERs and calling for immediate action to increase hospital capacity. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • No new numbers were released by the Province of Alberta over the weekend, but an update is expected Monday.
  • Alberta reported 749 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That’s slightly down from Thursday’s number of 817, which was the highest daily tally since May 19. 
  • There were 6,709 active cases across Alberta, an increase of 342 from the previous day.
  • The bulk of the active cases are among people who aren’t vaccinated (73 per cent), followed by the partially vaccinated (11.6 per cent). Only 15 per cent of the cases are people who have been fully vaccinated, according to Alberta Health.
  • Same goes for the 221 people being treated in hospital. All but one of the 48 people in ICU beds for COVID-19 (96 per cent) were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and 83 per cent of the 173 non-ICU patients were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said on Twitter on Friday.

  • One more death was reported, bringing Alberta’s total to 2,343 deaths.
  • The positivity rate was 8.32 per cent.
  • The R-value, which represents the number of people infected by each infected person, was 1.25 (with a confidence interval of 1.2-1.31) from Aug. 2-8.
  • 233,945 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.
  • Emergency medicine doctors have written a letter, sent Friday, to the CEO of Alberta Health Services calling for immediate action to address overwhelmed and understaffed emergency rooms.
  • AHS has said 98 per cent of its acute care and emergency beds are available, but the provincial tracking site shows bed reductions in more than two dozen communities.

The latest on restrictions and reopenings:

  • The Alberta government said Aug. 13 that — due to surging COVID-19 cases and higher non-ICU hospitalizations than expected — it would hold off on its controversial move to lift more public health measures on Aug. 16 and would keep them in place six more weeks until Sept. 27, including:
    • Mandatory masking orders in publicly accessible transit, taxis and ride-shares. This includes school buses.
    • Mandatory isolation for 10 days for those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result.
    • Testing at assessment centres for any symptomatic individual.
  • As of July 29, the Alberta government made the following changes:
    • Quarantine for close contacts is no longer mandatory but recommended. 
    • Contact tracers no longer notify close contacts. Contact tracers will continue to investigate high-risk settings like continuing care facilities. 
    • Asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended. 
  • The Calgary Board of Education announced Thursday it was reopening registration for its online learning option because of the continued uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic. The school board originally closed registration for CBe-learn on April 23 and didn’t plan to allow further registrations.
  • The Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District announced last week that masks will need to be worn by K-12 students and staff at the beginning of the school year.
  • At the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge, anyone not fully vaccinated will have to undergo regular rapid testing as of Sept. 1, the schools announced in a joint statement Tuesday morning.
  • The three schools are also requiring mask-wearing in public indoor areas where physical distancing is not possible.
  • Masks will be mandatory in classes, labs and indoor gatherings of 20 or more people when nearly all faculty and staff return this fall to Mount Royal University in Calgary.
  • At Calgary’s SAIT campus, masks are required for all indoor spaces effective Aug. 23. Bow Valley College will require masks indoors as of Aug. 19.
  • The United States said Friday it was extending restrictions on non-essential travel at land and ferry border crossings with Canada until Sept. 21.

The latest on vaccines:

  • The Alberta government says it expects to have a decision by September about whether to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to people with compromised immune systems, after U.S. health officials recommended the extra protection be made available to all Americans.
  • About 58.2 per cent of all Albertans are fully vaccinated against COVID (or 68.5 per cent when looking at those eligible, ages 12 and older). About 65.6 per cent of the total Alberta population have received at least one dose (or 77.2 per cent of those eligible), according to the most recent data from Alberta Health, last updated Aug. 19.
  • That’s considerably lower than the national average. Nationally, 64.68 per cent of the total population and 73.99 per cent of those ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated. About 72.35 per cent of the total population or 82.77 per cent of those ages 12 and older had received at least one dose as of the evening of Aug. 20, according to the CBC’s vaccine tracker.
  • Starting Sept. 7, temporary COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be set up in schools for students in Grades 7 to 12 and for teachers and staff. 
  • The federal government will soon require that all public servants be vaccinated — a mandate that will also be implemented by Crown corporations and other federally regulated businesses in the coming weeks.
  • Starting soon, all commercial air travellers and passengers on inter-provincial trains and large marine vessels with overnight accommodations (such as cruise ships) will have to be vaccinated. Accommodations will be made for “those few who are unable to be vaccinated,” such as testing and screening.

See which regions are being hit hardest:

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as reported by the province on Friday.

  • Calgary zone: 2,189.
  • Edmonton zone: 2,005.
  • South zone: 912.
  • North zone: 994.
  • Central zone: 587.
  • Unknown: 22.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

With files from The Canadian Press

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