Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, April 8

The latest COVID-19 numbers and restrictions:

  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, will provide a live update at 3:30 p.m. CBC Edmonton and CBC Calgary will carry the broadcast online.Technical difficulties prevented CBC from also livestreaming it on Facebook on Thursday.
  • Alberta reported 1,351 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the province’s total active cases to 11,464, a 37 per cent increase in just one week and a 186 per cent increase from a low of around 4,000 in February. 
  • The provincial positivity rate is 9.6 per cent, and the R-value is 1.17, meaning that, on average, each person with COVID-19 will infect more than one other person. 
  • The surge in variants of concern has also continued to accelerate. Variant cases went from about 100 per day three weeks ago to 575 new daily cases on Wednesday, and variants now make up more than 43 per cent of total active cases.
  • There are 333 people in hospital, 79 of whom are in intensive care. One more person has died for a total of 2,002. 

Several Alberta communities fighting P1 variant outbreaks are frustrated by a lack of information from health officials as the province announces a return to tougher restrictions to get its COVID-19 situation under control. 2:09

  • Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday afternoon that the province would return to Step 1 restrictions to try to slow the spread of highly contagious variants of the coronavirus.
  • A growing third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is now expected to be worse than the two that came before, with Alberta on track to have up to 1,000 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 2,000 cases per day by the end of April.
  • Kenney held a news conference Tuesday with Hinshaw, that laid out some alarming projections of what could happen over the next few weeks.

(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.)

  • Kenney denied Tuesday that the increasing cases meant the province should have introduced restrictions sooner — saying if Albertans had been more careful, the province would not be in its current situation.
  • On Wednesday, 16 United Conservative Party MLAs spoke out against their own government’s move to impose more stringent public-health restrictions in the face of spiking COVID-19 cases. The MLAs who signed the letter include Speaker Nathan Cooper, deputy speaker Angela Pitt and former municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard. They’re not calling for an immediate lift of restrictions, but for government to choose a set of benchmarks for imposing and lifting restrictions, and stick to those benchmarks. Some of the dissenting MLAs represent the parts of Alberta with the highest per capita case counts of COVID-19, including the City of Grande Prairie, Athabasca County and Ponoka County.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the coronavirus situation in his city has reached a critical point. At least half of the active cases in Alberta are in Calgary. 2:42

  • Step 1 restrictions mandate that:
    • Restaurants must close to in-person dining starting Friday, but will be open for takeout, delivery and patio service.
    • Indoor social gatherings remain banned and outdoor get-togethers can have no more than 10 people and must follow public health restrictions.
    • Retail store capacity is lowered to 15 per cent.
    • Low-intensity group fitness activities are banned.
    • A full list of restrictions is available on the province’s website
  • Kenney said there will be an announcement in the near future about additional supports for businesses forced to closed.
  • There are 2,285 cases at schools in the province, with 17 per cent of Alberta’s schools (413 schools) on alert or with outbreaks. In-school transmission is believed to have happened in 87 per cent of those schools, or 358 schools.
  • The rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines under Phase 2B expanded Wednesday at 8 a.m., those with eligible health conditions born earlier than 2005 are now eligible to book their vaccine.
  • The government warns that until most Albertans are protected, fully vaccinated people must still follow all health measures, including participating in no indoor gatherings, keeping two metres apart, wearing a mask in public and staying home when sick.
  • Hinshaw posted on social media Monday that the province is investigating a significant outbreak involving the variant of concern that was first identified in Brazil, one at a Calgary-based company’s worksites in central and northern Alberta and the other at a Calgary workplace.

The latest on the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines:

  • As of Wednesday, 755,831 vaccine doses have been administered, and 133,401 Albertans have been fully vaccinated with two doses.
  • Kenney said two-thirds of Albertans will be immunized by the end of June, seemingly contradicting the province’s goal to have a first dose offered to all adults by the end of June. Alberta Health clarified that the premier’s comment indicated that not all Albertans will choose to be vaccinated, and that it takes a few weeks after the first dose to begin developing immunity. 
  • Alberta is now in Phase 2B of the vaccination rollout, opening up more appointments for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in a staggered rollout. 
    • Who’s eligible in Group 2B:
      • Albertans born 2005 to 1957 (16 to 64) with eligible high-risk underlying health conditions like chronic conditions affecting certain organs and those suffering from cancer. For the full list of health conditions see here. However, not everyone can book right away: see below.
    • How to book if you’re in Group 2B:
      • Bookings will open by birth year. Additional years added as more vaccines arrive.
      • Starting March 30: Born 1957-63 can book through participating pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer (more pharmacies will be added in coming weeks).
      • Starting April 5: Born 1957-59 can book through AHS (online or 811).
      • Starting April 6: Born in or before 1973 can book through AHS (online or 811).
      • Starting April 7 at 8 a.m.: Born in 2005 or before can book through AHS (online or 811).
  • Those in Group 2A, which started on March 15, are still eligible. Group 2A includes:
    • Albertans born 1947 to 1956 (turning 65 to 74), no matter where they live. They can book through participating pharmacies or AHS (online or 811).
    • First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) people born 1971 or earlier (turning 50+), no matter where they live.
      • On-reserve or on-settlement: Book through local clinics. 
      • Off-reserve or off-settlement: Book through participating pharmacies or AHS (online or 811).
    • Staff and residents of licensed seniors supportive living facilities not included in Phase 1. Do not book, as AHS will contact facilities directly.
  • Alberta’s vaccination rollout began in December, with a focus on acute care sites with the highest COVID-19 capacity concerns in Edmonton and Calgary. All residents in long-term care and designated supportive living had received their second shot of the vaccine by late February.
  • You can also still book your shots at participating pharmacies and AHS if you’re in Group 1B, which began on Feb. 24 to all Albertans born in 1946 or earlier (turning 75 and older this year).
    • Alberta Health confirmed last Thursday that about 74 per cent of Albertans aged 75 and older had received at least one shot of their vaccinations.
    • If you’re in that group and haven’t booked your shot, they’re still available at participating pharmacies and AHS.
  • Group 2C will likely start in April or May, subject to vaccine supply, and will be broken down into four groups that the government said will include:
    • Residents and support staff at eligible congregate living and work settings at risk for large outbreaks, including correctional facilities, front-line policing and provincial sheriffs, homeless shelters, meat-packing plants and group homes for disability, mental health and other types of licensed supportive living.
    • Health-care workers, including, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and all other regulated health-care professionals and their office or support staff.
    • Anyone working in patient care facilities or providing services directly to clients in the community for Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, Alberta Precision Labs or DynaLife, and students undertaking placement practicums in clinical areas.
    • Health-care workers on First Nation reserves.
    • Caregivers of Albertans who are most at risk of severe outcomes, such as individuals in long-term care facilities.

The latest on more dangerous variants:

  • Alberta reported 575 new cases identified as involving variants of concern on Wednesday. Variants now represent more than 43 per cent of active cases. 
  • The total number of variant cases was 7,561 on Wednesday, 4,951 of which were active.
  • PTW Energy Services confirmed in a statement on Monday that three employees had tested positive for the P1 variant at its Drayton Valley, Edson and Hinton offices. 
  • There is an unrelated outbreak of the P1 variant at a workplace in Calgary, Hinshaw said, which involves five cases including one confirmed to be the variant. 
  • A briefing being prepared for the Ontario government suggests the variants substantially increase the risk of serious illness and death when compared to earlier dominant strains of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
  • Of those cases of variants of concern, 2,581 people are deemed to have recovered while 29 have died.

The latest on AstraZeneca-Oxford/Covishield vaccine:

  • As of Tuesday, April 6, Phase 2 of the AstraZeneca-Oxford rollout has begun.
  • Albertans born from 1957 to 1966 who do not have chronic underlying health conditions can now make an appointment to receive the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine at participating pharmacies across the province.
  • Eligible Albertans in this phase can choose to wait for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to become available to their age group when Phase 2D opens in May, according to the government.
  • On March 10, Alberta began to offer the AstraZeneca-Oxford/Covishield vaccine as an option for adults who do not have a severe chronic illness in a staggered rollout to Albertans born 1957 to 1971, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) persons born 1972 to 1976.
  • Alberta previously paused the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for those under age 55 in order to gather more data about a potential increased risk for blood clots.
  • About 900 people under age 55 had received the AstraZeneca shot in Alberta, Hinshaw said, but they aren’t considered to be at an increased risk for blood clots.
  • She said there had been no incidents in Alberta or in Canada, but recommended that anyone who received it monitor their health — and call their health-care provider if they experience seizures, or an arm or leg that goes pale, cold or turns colour.

See which regions are being hit hardest

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

  • Calgary zone: 5,408, up from 5,122 reported on Tuesday (54,806 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 2,640, up from 2,447 (55,077 recovered).
  • North zone: 1,522, up from 1,394 (13,325 recovered).
  • South zone: 865, down from 874 (7,605 recovered).
  • Central zone: 934, up from 878 (11,076 recovered).
  • Unknown: 95, up from 94 (121 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

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

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