What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, August 23

The latest:

  • No new numbers will be released by the province this weekend. Numbers from Saturday and Sunday will be released on Monday.
  • Alberta parents and teachers protested against provincial school re-opening plans Friday as students get set to head back into the classroom. Parents, students and teachers: CBC Calgary wants to hear from you!
  • On Friday afternoon, Alberta reported 144 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths, with 43 people in hospital (nine in intensive care).
  • Alberta is second only to Quebec in terms of total active cases. Alberta has 1,144 active cases compared with 1,290 in Quebec and 968 in Ontario. That’s despite Alberta’s population being much smaller, at 4.4 million, compared with about 8.6 million in Quebec and 14.7 million in Ontario.
  • More than half the active cases in the province were in the Edmonton zone — 676 out of a provincial total of 1,144.
  • The entire city of Edmonton remains under a COVID-19 watch, as it has 59.5 cases for every 100,000 people, along with another area on the outskirts and a third in the far northwest of the province.
  • The province has posted a guide to how it will respond to cases and symptoms of COVID-19 that are identified in schools.
  • Pharmacies owned by Loblaws, including Shoppers Drug Mart and Superstore, will offer asymptomatic COVID-19 tests at all 234 locations across the province after Sept. 1. 
  • Learn about where you need to wear a mask around the province.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

As we draw closer to the first week of September, CBC Calgary wants to hear from Alberta’s parents, students and teachers in regards to how the process has gone so far.

Across Alberta, mask use is required for staff and students from Grade 4 to Grade 12. In Calgary’s public system and within the Catholic school system, mask use will be required for all students and staff from Kindergarten on. Some schools might have additional space for more distancing, while others are already at capacity. 

There are plenty of other questions parents might have about the return to school. For that, we’ve created this guide, which we’ll update frequently in the coming weeks.

On Friday afternoon, Alberta reported 144 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 230.

The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the increase in cases was likely due in part to teachers and school staff getting tested ahead of the school year. 

However, Hinshaw said the trends also suggest that social gatherings have led to higher numbers, and are responsible for the majority of transmission within the province. Officials have also seen some household and workplace transmission.

Apart from Edmonton being under a COVID watch, Sturgeon County — on the outskirts of the capital city — is also under watch, with a case rate of 93 per 100,000 population.

Mackenzie County, a vast area in the province’s far northwest, is also under a watch with a case rate of 161.3 per 100,000 population.

(CBC)

The province has posted a guide detailing how it will respond to any students or staff who have symptoms in schools, and what protocols will be followed if COVID-19 cases are identified in classrooms.

Hinshaw said her office will continue to monitor new evidence as it emerges and will adapt advice about school re-entry plans as needed. She announced that she will be sending her own children back to school in an attempt to reassure Alberta parents.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association is calling on the province to push back the first day of school until after Labour Day to give teachers and principals more time to prepare for teaching through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Calgary Board of Education is cutting the positions of 70 per cent of its bus attendants as students prepare to head back to school this fall. 

An Alberta doctor is clarifying her position after the province’s governing party posted an excerpt from an article she wrote about COVID-19 transmission in schools that received an angry backlash.

The sentence was quoted in a post on the United Conservative Party Caucus Facebook page, which sought to reassure parents about the safety of students returning to class in the fall. It said: “It is exceedingly rare and maybe not even possible to acquire the virus simply by being in the same room as an infected person.”

That question — the likelihood of aerosol or airborne transmission of COVID-19 — has been a point of much debate, controversy and confusion for many weeks now, well beyond Alberta, but Alberta’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, does agree that the virus “is not transmitted in a way like measles is, which is that very far distance, very long duration airborne transmission.”

Flexibility, creativity and innovation are a few elements that create a recipe for success for businesses in COVID-19 times, a researcher at the University of Alberta says. 

Missing live music? An Edmonton musician has organized a ‘mini folk fest’ to help ease the pandemic blues. The McKernan Outdoor Music Fest is set to go this Saturday at Gowan Park, next to the McKernan community league at 11341 78th Ave.

CBC News has curated a list of towns and cities in the province, outlining their policies on masks. We’ll try to keep it updated regularly.

(CBC)

Here’s the regional breakdown of active cases across the province as of Aug. 21:

  • Edmonton zone: 676 active cases.
  • Calgary zone: 294 active cases.
  • North zone: 110 active cases.
  • Central zone: 30 active cases.
  • South zone: 28 active cases.
  • Unknown: 6 active cases.
  • 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

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 124,629 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 110,878 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,106.

Researchers in Saskatoon say their made-in-Canada vaccine effort has been slowed by a manufacturing delay.

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) says it needs to complete more studies using higher-grade materials than what was needed for early animal studies before it can move on to human critical trials. But given hold-ups from manufacturers, for the time being, they’re left waiting.

The federal government is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by one more month and revamping the employment insurance program to allow more people to receive financial assistance during COVID-19.

The suite of benefit reforms, aimed at helping Canadians through the transition as the economy gradually reopens, is expected to cost $37 billion.

The federal government has spent more than $37 million to cover the cost of housing travellers returning to Canada who lack a safe place to quarantine for 14 days. Eleven hotel sites have been set up across the country, each with its own health-care staff and security.

Thousands of pages of internal government records related to the Liberal government’s decision to task WE Charity — which has ties to the Trudeau family and members of his government — with running a $900 million student grant program were released Monday evening. Here are some highlights.

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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