Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Wednesday, April 7

The latest COVID-19 numbers and restrictions:

  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, is not expected to provide a live update Wednesday. CBC News will be publishing the latest COVID-19 case numbers when they are released by the province in the afternoon.
  • 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 along with Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, laying 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.)

  • Cases have continued to rise sharply averaging nearly 1,000 new cases a day over the long weekend. However, 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.
  • The provincial positivity rate is 10.1 per cent, and the R-value is 1.17, meaning that each person with COVID-19 will infect more than one other person. 
  • The surge in variants of concern has also accelerated. Variant cases went from about 100 a day three weeks ago to 676 on Tuesday, he said, and variants now make up more than 42 per cent of total active cases.
  • On Tuesday, there were 10,809 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, a 27 per cent increase in the last week. Nearly half of the active cases are in Calgary.
  • There are 328 people in hospital, 76 of whom are in intensive care. Three more people have died — pushing the provincial death toll to 2,001.

With a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by highly-contagious coronavirus variants, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the province needs to stronger health measures to help protect the health-care system. 1:36

  • 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 stores currently allow 25 per cent customer capacity, but that will be lowered to 15 per cent starting Wednesday.
    • Low-intensity group fitness activities were banned effective Wednesday.
    • 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 Tuesday to include Albertans with eligible underlying health conditions born in or before 1973.
  • As of Wednesday at 8 a.m., those with eligible underlying health conditions born earlier than 2005 are 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.
  • Those living in Calgary who need support and advice in a different language can access a multi-lingual hotline that was recently extended into April by calling 1-833-217-6614.
  • 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 Tuesday, 734,403 vaccine doses have been administered, and 123,272 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. 
  • The rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines under Phase 2B expanded Tuesday to include Albertans with eligible underlying health conditions born in or before 1973.
  • The rollout will expand on Wednesday at 8 a.m. to include those with eligible conditions born in 2005 or earlier.
  • 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 between April and June, subject to vaccine supply, and will include:
    • A wider swath of health-care professionals such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and support staff.
    • Designated support persons for those living in continuing care.

The latest on more dangerous variants:

  • Alberta reported 432 new cases identified as involving variants of concern on Tuesday. Variants now represent more than 42 per cent of active cases. 
  • The total number of variant cases was 6,986 on Tuesday, 4,604 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. 
  • Alberta has been contending with rising hospitalization numbers and a surge in cases linked to variants of concern — trends that have delayed plans for further easing public health restrictions.
  • 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, 2,137 people are deemed to have recovered while 28 have died.

Speaking with Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos, Rachel Notley says that Premier Jason Kenney’s announcement came too late who says the restrictions should have been imposed prior to the Easter long weekend. 6:50

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 Tuesday by the province:

  • Calgary zone: 5,122, up from 4,981 reported on Monday (54,476 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 2,447, up from 2,365 (54,924 recovered).
  • North zone: 1,394, up from 1,391 (13,243 recovered).
  • South zone: 874, down from 878 (7,546 recovered).
  • Central zone: 878, up from 874 (11,006 recovered).
  • Unknown: 94, up from 93 (20 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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