Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday, March 8

The latest:

  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, is expected to provide a live update on Monday at 3:30 p.m. CBC News will have it live here and on Facebook.
  • Alberta reported an estimated 300 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, including 54 more cases involving variants of concern, as Hinshaw posted a preliminary update Sunday afternoon to Twitter.
  • As of Saturday, there were 4,649 active cases across the province as well as one more death.
  • On Saturday there were 247 people were being treated in hospital for COVID-19, an increase of four from the day before, with 42 people in intensive care beds.
  • 8,142 coronavirus tests were completed with a positivity rate of 4.11 per cent.
  • An additional 36 variant cases were recorded on Saturday, bringing the total to 599. Of those variant cases, almost all — 589 — are the strain first identified in the U.K., and 10 are the strain first identified in South Africa.
  • Alberta’s R-value has decreased slightly to 1.01, from 1.03, but it still means that more than one person on average contracts COVID-19 from each positive case. An R-value above 1.0 indicates exponential growth. Outside of Calgary and Edmonton, the R-value fell from 1.13 to 0.94.
  • As of March 6, the province says 290,391 doses of vaccine have been administered, and 90,937 Albertans have been fully immunized with two doses.
  • Friday marked the one-year anniversary since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Alberta. Since that first case a year ago, 133,202 other Albertans have tested positive for the virus. Nearly 2,000 Albertans have died. See graphics and video that dramatically illustrate how it forever changed the province, from remote communities to large workforces, here.
  • Alberta said Thursday it would expand its COVID-19 vaccine rollout to include people under age 75 starting March 15 — and, if shipments arrive as scheduled, all adults in the province will receive their first dose by the end of June.
  • Alberta Health will soon begin using the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and plans to offer the first 58,500 doses of that vaccine only to healthy adults between the ages of 50 and 64.
  • Bookings for the AstraZeneca vaccine will begin on March 10 for any Albertan born in 1957 and those born between 1958 and 1971 will be offered chances to book vaccine appointments in the following days as long as supply lasts.
  • Vaccinations for those 75 and older (born in 1946 or earlier) are available at 102 community pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer as well as at the AHS sites. A list of participating pharmacies is available on the Alberta Blue Cross website.
  • Health Canada has approved the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, making it the fourth vaccine to be approved for use in Canada. The approval is expected to provide a significant boost to Canada’s vaccine rollout.
  • Hinshaw announced the province will join others in adopting the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommendation to extend the period between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • An outbreak of COVID-19 in an Alberta long-term care facility as been linked to a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus. 
  • The outbreak was confirmed late on Friday at Churchill Manor in Edmonton with a single case, and since Friday, 27 staff and residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.

See which regions are being hit hardest

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as of Saturday:

  • Calgary zone: 1,659, up from 1,654 (49,592 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 1,154, up from 1,101 (52,136 recovered).
  • North zone: 958, down from 1,005 (11,182 recovered).
  • South zone: 353, up from 341 (6,232 recovered).
  • Central zone: 511, down from 527 (9,739 recovered).
  • Unknown: 14, up from 11 (93 recovered).

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

You can see active cases by local health area on the following interactive map. Scroll, zoom and click on the map for more information.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

The province says that in the next fiscal year, starting April 1, the health system will provide 55,000 additional surgeries on top of the normal volume of 290,000, and by 2023 it plans to be able to to provide all scheduled surgeries within “clinically acceptable times.”

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says this plan, which will receive $1.25 billion from the province’s COVID-19 contingency in last week’s budget, and $120 million from the Alberta Surgical Initiative, should eliminate the pandemic backlog of 36,000 surgeries by the end of the year.

“Even as AHS was forced to make specific changes to free up capacity, they pressed ahead where they could, and they’ve worked in partnership with Covenant Health and chartered surgical facilities to minimize delays for patients and the backlog of postponed surgeries,” he said Friday. 

Shandro says chartered surgical facilities began ramping up their surgical activity in December, especially cataract surgeries that have the largest wait lists.

This spring, the government will issue requests for proposals for additional capacity for ophthalmology and orthopedic surgical services, in March and May, respectively.

“By 2023, this plan means that chartered surgical facilities will offer Albertans 90,000 surgeries each year, far more than the current 40,000 surgeries each year,” he said. 

Alberta will expand its COVID-19 vaccine rollout to include people under age 75 starting March 15, and if shipments arrive as scheduled, all adults in the province will receive their first dose by the end of June, the health minister says.

“By June 30, we expect to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday at a news conference.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on Thursday that if vaccine shipments arrive as scheduled, all adults in the province will receive their first dose by the end of June. 0:52

Under the expanding vaccine program set to begin in less than two weeks, about 437,000 more people between the ages of 65 and 74 will become eligible for inoculations, Shandro said.

To avoid long delays for those making appointments, when Phase 2A begins on March 15 bookings will be offered in two-year age groups, Shandro said.

On the first day, anyone aged 73 or 74 will be able to book.

On the second day, eligibility will be expanded to include anyone aged 71 to 72, and so on from there.

It was inevitable, the premier said.

Though there were only dozens of cases of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 reported in Canada, health officials were resigned that the pandemic would eventually spread into Alberta.

A news bulletin went out in the late afternoon March 5, with few details aside from confirmation that a presumptive case had been confirmed.

Less than an hour later, the province’s chief medical officer of health took to the podium.

“Uh, you all know, my name is Dr. Deena Hinshaw,” she said. “I’m here, as you know, to provide an update on COVID-19 in Alberta.”

Hinshaw went on to provide more details: the presumptive case was a woman in her 50s who had been on board the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off the coast of California.

Nearly a year later, Hinshaw needed to introduce herself to Albertans no longer — she had become a fixture when it came to her daily updates on cases, hospitalizations, outbreaks and deaths.

For more, see: These graphics show just how deeply COVID-19 has infiltrated Alberta

Calgary expanded its Adaptive Roadways Program to include more roads on Saturday in order to provide more space for residents to physically distance as the weather warms.

The program was first introduced last year as more people spent time outdoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City pathways were widened by closing certain roads and parking lanes to motor vehicles.

On March. 6 the city closed two eastbound lanes on Memorial Drive between Ninth Street N.W. 

A couple strolls down a portion of Calgary’s Memorial Drive, a popular spot for walkers and joggers along the Bow River, which was closed to traffic to give people space to physically distance themselves. (Helen Pike/CBC)

The city also closed the entire lower deck of the Centre Street bridge between Riverfront Avenue S.E. and Memorial Drive N.W.

“What we’re trying to do is really target areas that are super congested. And certainly we saw in Eau Claire the pathway system was packed last weekend,” said Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell on the Calgary Eyeopener.

Other roadways already widened include:

  • Riverfront Avenue S.E. — The westbound parking lane is closed between Fourth Street and First Street S.E. 
  • Crescent Road N.W. — The parking lane is closed going east between 7A Street N.W. and First Street S.E.
  • 12th Street S.E. — The parking lane going south is closed between Eighth Avenue and 21st Avenue S.E.

  • For the latest on what’s happening in the rest of Canada and around the world, see here.

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