Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, April 29

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported Wednesday its second highest total of active cases since the pandemic began, with 20,938 active cases. That number is closing in on the high of 21,138 at the height of the second COVID-19 wave in December.
  • The province continues to have the highest active case rate in Canada, with 256 cases per 100,000 people. 
  • Alberta reported 1,839 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
  • The more dangerous and highly transmissible variant cases continue to surge and are now the dominant strains of the virus in Alberta, accounting for 63 per cent of total active cases.
  • Grades 7 to 12 students at Calgary public and Catholic schools will continue online learning for two more weeks due to high COVID-19 cases. Those students were initially slated to return to in-class instruction on Monday.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, is expected to provide her next update to the province on Thursday.
  • Meantime, more Albertans in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s are ending up in ICU with COVID-19 than ever before, according to a breakdown of data published by Alberta Health. People admitted to ICU in recent weeks have been significantly younger than those admitted over the winter, when a devastating second wave of infection swamped hospitals with critically ill patients. 
  • There are now 643 people in hospital, up from 635. There are 145 people with COVID-19 in intensive care. Six more people have died, for a total of 2,073 deaths.
  • The provincial positivity rate is 9.7 per cent, and the R-value is 1.04.
  • 163,668 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.
  • There are more than 700 active cases of COVID-19 tied to outbreaks at oil camps in northern Alberta. 
  • Currently, 712 schools, about 29 per cent of the total in Alberta, are on alert or have outbreaks, with 4,271 cases in total. In-school transmission is believed to have occurred at 577 schools. 
  • Due to an increase in the number of Albertans in the Calgary zone requesting a COVID-19 test, it may take three to five days from the time someone makes a request to when testing occurs, AHS said last week.

(Note the latest daily count of new cases in the above chart will usually vary slightly from the net new cases Alberta Health announces each day. For more on why, click here.)

The latest on vaccines:

  • The province said Thursday that Albertans eligible in the rest of the Phase 2C and 2D vaccine rollout will be able to book appointments starting April 30.
  • Albertans in the final groups of Phase 2 include front-line disability workers and workers in group homes and other supportive living sites, workers at locations with potential for large outbreaks, police officers and provincial sheriffs, all Albertans aged 50 and older, and all First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) persons aged 35 and older.
  • Vaccination clinics are set to begin Thursday at two of Canada’s largest beef-packing plants in southern Alberta. Both the Cargill plant, which is near High River south of Calgary, and JBS Canada in Brooks were hit hard by COVID-19 outbreaks last year.
  • Alberta will also begin vaccinating about 15,000 workers at all of the province’s 136 meat-packing plants this week, using a combination of on-site and community locations. 
  • Alberta is altering the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility rules for residents of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Banff — and will redirect a large shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to both areas.
  • Calgary firefighters are now able to get COVID-19 vaccine shots after the city designated them as medical first responders.
  • The province is expanding the number of people eligible due to underlying health conditions. As of April 27, those born between 2006 and 2009 with qualifying conditions can book appointments for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
  • Walk-in appointments for the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot were no longer be available to most Albertans as of April 26, Alberta Health Services said, as active COVID-19 cases surged above 20,000 in the province. 
  • Only Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray will continue to have walk-in opportunities on a first-come, first-served basis for the next few days.
  • Eligible Albertans wanting an AstraZeneca shot can book through the AHS online booking tool and through Health Link 811. Many pharmacies are also taking bookings, although some haven’t received the vaccine.
  • Phase 2C of the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines began on April 12, expanding to include 240,000 nurses, doctors, dentists and any health-care workers in patient care facilities or providing direct patient care in the community. Correctional facility staff and inmates are also eligible, as well as staff and residents at shelters.
  • Other groups in 2C — such as support staff at workplaces that are at risk for large outbreaks and front-line policing, as well as residents at group homes and caregivers of Albertans at risk of severe outcomes — are expected to begin in the following weeks. 
  • 1,497,256 vaccine doses have been administered in Alberta, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
  • 288,595 Albertans have been fully immunized (2 doses).

The latest on restrictions and reopenings:

  • Grades 7 to 12 students at Calgary public and Catholic schools will continue online learning for two more weeks, as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.Online schooling was expected to continue for those grades until May 3, but Alberta’s education minister confirmed in a statement Wednesday that at-home learning will be extended for two additional weeks. 
  • Premier Jason Kenney says any new public health restriction will be targetted to hard hit area, saying on Wednesday that “the notion that there’s a direct linear relationship between the restrictions and viral spread is not the experience of this pandemic.” Nonetheless, he added, “let me be absolutely clear this government will not allow our hospital system to be overwhelmed.”
  • On April 6, the Alberta government reimposed Step 1 restrictions, including closing restaurants and bars to in-person dining, lowering retail store capacity to 15 per cent and banning low-intensity group fitness activities.
  • The province is easing COVID-19 restrictions at long-term care centres starting on May 10, allowing each resident to designate up to four friends or family members as visitors.  Kenney said hospitalizations in those facilities have decreased by 93 per cent since active cases in care homes peaked in December. 
  • The government of B.C. is restricting all non-essential travel into or out of all health authority regions.
  • The legal orders are meant to limit the spread of COVID-19, and will be in effect in B.C. until May 25 — the end of the May long weekend.
  • Those who contravene the legal order in B.C. — including Albertans — may be subject to a $575 fine, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said last week.

The latest on more dangerous variants:

  • Alberta announced its first COVID-19 case linked to the B1617 variant on April 22, the variant fuelling the case surge in India.
  • There were 1,058 new cases involving variants of concern reported on Wednesday. Variants now comprise 63 per cent of all active cases. 
  • There are 13,193 active variant cases, while 14,647 people have recovered and 81 people had died from variant infections.
  • Alberta had 26,985 cases linked to variant B117, first detected in the United Kingdom, 75 cases linked to variant B1351, first detected in South Africa, and 860 cases linked to variant P1, now spreading in Brazil.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says there is currently no one source or sector that is driving the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta. 1:30

See which regions are being hit hardest:

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as reported by the province on Wednesday:

  • Calgary zone: 8,882 active cases, up from 8,656 reported on Tuesday (64,705 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 5,755, up from 5,672 (60,382 recovered).
  • North zone: 2,894, down from 2,960 (16,439 recovered).
  • South zone: 1,030, up from 992 (9,028 recovered).
  • Central zone: 2,320, down from 2,367 (13,095 recovered).
  • Unknown: 57, down from 74 (19 recovered).

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

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.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

How Alberta compares to other provinces and territories:

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