COVID-19 Update: 1,345 new cases today | City to plow surplus into recovery effort | Strong turnout for AstraZeneca

Follow this page for updates and breaking news on coronavirus throughout the day.

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With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.


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My COVID Story: How have you been impacted by coronavirus?

Postmedia is looking to speak with people who may have been impacted by COVID-19 here in Alberta.  Have you undergone a travel-related quarantine? Have you received your vaccine, and if so did you feel any side effects? Have you changed your life for the better because of the pandemic? Send us an email at reply@calgaryherald.com to tell us your experience, or send us a message via this form.

Read our ongoing coverage of personal stories arising from the pandemic.



City closes 2020 with $98M surplus; money planned to support COVID recovery

City Hall in Calgary on April 6, 2021.
City Hall in Calgary on April 6, 2021. Photo by Dre Kwong/Postmedia

COVID-19 battered city operations in 2020, but Calgary closed the year with a $98-million surplus — money that will go back into pandemic relief this year.

The final result comes after considerable anxiety about managing city finances during an unprecedented situation, and whether Calgary might even end the year in the red. The city cut spending by $65 million last year, before the federal and provincial governments delivered an aid package totalling about $200 million — part of a program called the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST).

Officials presented the details as part of the 2020 annual report to council’s audit committee Tuesday. City CFO Carla Male said the finance committee will also see a year-end accountability report this month.

Read more.


Kenney says he’s open to legislating three hours paid leave for vaccinations

A man walks by a sign advertising COVID-19 vaccinations at a pharmacy in Edmonton on Monday, March 29, 2021.
A man walks by a sign advertising COVID-19 vaccinations at a pharmacy in Edmonton on Monday, March 29, 2021. Photo by David Bloom/Postmedia

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Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday he will decide in the next 24 hours whether to give workers three paid hours to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 as requested by the NDP.

In a rare amicable exchange in the legislature, Kenney said he was open to the idea but would need the time to consult with officials to make sure there wouldn’t be any unintended consequences.

Prior to question period NDP Leader Rachel Notley said her party was prepared to waive the rules and pass whatever procedural amendments are required to to push legislation, which would also cover helping family members get vaccinated, through by Thursday, before MLAs take a week-long break to be in their constituencies.

Read more.


Demand for AstraZeneca vaccine spikes as age limit drops in Alberta

People line up for vaccinations outside the Telus Convention Centre on Tuesday.
People line up for vaccinations outside the Telus Convention Centre on Tuesday. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Postmedia

Calgary’s large-scale immunization clinic was overwhelmed on Tuesday after eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine expanded to include anyone aged 40 and over.

Shortly after the TELUS Convention Centre opened its doors, it reached its daily walk-in capacity limit, prompting Alberta Health Services (AHS) to add an additional 500 walk-in appointments on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Premier Jason Kenney said there had been more uptake in a single day than all of last week for the AstraZeneca vaccine after he announced the minimum age would drop to 40 from 55.

The decision came after thousands of appointments went unfilled at Calgary’s downtown clinic when eligibility was more limited.

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“This vaccine works. This vaccine has been shown to reduce infection by 60 to 70 per cent and to reduce severe outcomes, like hospitalization, by 80 per cent,” stressed Kenney, who was one of thousands who booked an AstraZeneca jab on Tuesday.

Read more.

Watch the full news conference here:

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Grades 7 to 12 in Edmonton’s public and Catholic schools go online for two-week ‘circuit-breaker’

M.E. LaZerte Composite High School in Edmonton, site of a COVID-19 outbreak in January, 2021.
M.E. LaZerte Composite High School in Edmonton, site of a COVID-19 outbreak in January, 2021. Photo by Larry Wong/Postmedia

Edmonton’s public and Catholic schools are moving grades 7 to 12 online for two weeks beginning Thursday as rising COVID-19 cases put pressure on teaching resources.

Edmonton Public Schools superintendent Darrel Robertson told media Tuesday the division asked the province on Monday for the “circuit-breaker” closure.

Robertson said a rise in COVID-19 cases has put pressure on the division’s ability to fill teacher’s spots when they are forced into self-isolation from exposure. Moving the older students online will protect the supply pool for elementary, he said.

“When we see teacher supply shortages — right now they are in the seventies … and so that could easily be 90 to 100 on Thursday. We wanted to pivot as soon as possible,” he said.

Read more.


COVID-19 news from around Canada on Tuesday

OPP officers check travellers entering Ontario from Quebec as new COVID-19 measures take effect Monday in Hawkesbury, Ont.
OPP officers check travellers entering Ontario from Quebec as new COVID-19 measures take effect Monday in Hawkesbury, Ont. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Ontario’s science advisers say the province’s hospitals are “buckling” under the weight of COVID-19 and stronger measures are urgently needed. The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says those measures include accelerating the vaccination of essential workers and offering them paid sick days, and closing more non-essential workplaces. The group says hospitals are at capacity and younger people are getting sick as case counts keep hitting record highs.

New Brunswick is confirming its first case of a patient experiencing blood clots after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the person in their 30s received the vaccine in mid-March, before its use was limited to people over the age of 55. Russell says the person was treated and has recovered.

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North Dakota has agreed to start providing vaccines to commercial truckers from Manitoba who cross the border. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he hopes to expand the program to other essential workers who cross the border for work. Manitoba is reporting one new death related to COVID-19 and 211 new cases today.

British Columbia is examining the use of periodic roadblocks to limit travel. Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and the solicitor general, says the checks would be set up at locations like ferry terminals or along major highways leading out of Metro Vancouver.

Toronto says it will temporarily close any non-essential businesses that have had five or more COVID-19 cases in the previous two weeks. Public health officials say the closures will be in effect for a minimum of 10 days, and workers are required to self-isolate during that time. They say workplaces considered essential, such as health-care facilities and schools, may be exempt.

Quebec is reporting 1,136 new cases of COVID-19 today and 17 more deaths. Health officials say hospitalizations rose by eight, to 694, and 177 people were in intensive care, a drop of six.

Ontario is reporting 3,469 cases of COVID-19 today and 22 more deaths linked to the virus.

Nunavut is reporting five new cases of COVID-19. There are now 33 active cases in the territory, 31 in Iqaluit and two in Kinngait.


Trudeau seeks vaccine appointment

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland both say they are seeking appointments at a pharmacy to get vaccinated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Both Trudeau, 49, and Freeland, 52, became eligible today when Ontario dropped the age to get that vaccine to 40 and above.

Trudeau says he is still working out the details for getting his shot, while Freeland says she has her children online trying to get her an appointment and is now on a waitlist.


Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

A traveller walks through Calgary International Airport on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020.
A traveller walks through Calgary International Airport on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Canada is extending the use of quarantine hotels for international air travellers another month, and considering whether it needs to do more to stop COVID-19 cases from getting into the country from abroad.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that could include barring incoming flights from specific countries, such as India, even as he defended his government’s actions on the border as effective Tuesday.

“We are continuing to look at more and I have asked our officials to look carefully at, for example, what the U.K. has done very recently on suspending flights from India,” he said.

Read more.


Six people in Vaughan, Ont., injected with saline instead of COVID-19 vaccine

Though a saline injection does not cause any harm, Mackenzie Health said the incident “should not have happened.”
Though a saline injection does not cause any harm, Mackenzie Health said the incident “should not have happened.” Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Six people at an immunization clinic in Ontario were mistakenly injected with saline solution instead of the Pfizer vaccine.

A statement from Mackenzie Health on Monday said the incident happened on March 28 at its COVID-19 vaccine clinic located at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital north of Toronto.

Saline solution, which is just salt and water, is used to dilute the COVID-19 vaccine prior to use, and although Mackenzie Health said a saline injection does not cause any harm, it “should not have happened.”

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AstraZeneca bookings now open to Albertans born in 1981 or earlier

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Mossleigh restaurant ordered closed for continuing dine-in service

The Alberta Health Services building located on Southport Rd. S.W. Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.
The Alberta Health Services building located on Southport Rd. S.W. Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

A restaurant located one hour southeast of Calgary has been ordered closed by AHS for continuing to provide dine-in services.

The Mossleigh Bar ‘n Grill, located at 17, Highway 24 in Mossleigh, was shut down on Friday.

An inspector found people from different households seated inside the restaurant with food and menus.

Dine-in service has been restricted in Alberta since the province returned to Step 1 of the reopening plan in early April.


Monday

Telus Convention Centre to accept walk-ins for vaccination

A security guard checks in a customer at the Telus Convention Centre COVID-19 vaccination site on Monday. Starting Tuesday the Astra-Zeneca vaccine is being offered to any Albertan 40 and over.
A security guard checks in a customer at the Telus Convention Centre COVID-19 vaccination site on Monday. Starting Tuesday the Astra-Zeneca vaccine is being offered to any Albertan 40 and over. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Anticipating a surge of people now that the AstraZeneca vaccine is being offered to anyone aged 40 and over, AHS has decided to make the Telus Convention Centre immunization site open to walk-ins.

Starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, the convention centre will accept walk-ins through to Friday. Further dates will be added as required, AHS said in a news release on Monday.

The convention centre walk-in site replaces the one at AHS Southport.

Although some Calgary pharmacies are offering walk-in services, this is the only AHS site to do so.

The Telus Convention Centre site can process up to 6,000 doses per day, but turnout was much lower than that last week, when AstraZeneca eligibility was at age 55 and over.

For more information on vaccinations, go to the AHS site.


Monday

Alberta records 1,391 new cases as AstraZeneca extended to people aged 40 and up

A masked pedestrian walks past a mural along Macleod Trail S.W. in Calgary on Monday.
A masked pedestrian walks past a mural along Macleod Trail S.W. in Calgary on Monday. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Albertans aged 40 and up will be eligible to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine beginning Tuesday.

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The government made the announcement Monday morning after Premier Jason Kenney tweeted the change late Sunday evening.

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Monday

Police to set up roadside checks as B.C. limits travel within province

Traffic on the Second Narrows Bridge in Vancouver, B.C.
Traffic on the Second Narrows Bridge in Vancouver, B.C. Photo by Postmedia Archives

B.C. Premier John Horgan announced today new travel restrictions that prohibit people from travelling outside their health authority to stop the spread of COVID-19.

B.C. will bring in an order on Friday that means people could face a fine for non-essential travel outside their local health authority with checkpoints across the province.

Horgan said the province is also working with tourism operators to ensure they’re not taking bookings from visitors outside their region. B.C. Ferries will also have reduced sailings and cancel bookings for recreational vehicles. There will also be signs at B.C.’s border with Alberta warning people not to come into B.C. unless it’s for essential travel.

Read more.


Monday

Federal budget keeps COVID-19 benefits in place — but CRB will be less come July

A COVID-19 vaccination site at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan on April 12, 2021.
A COVID-19 vaccination site at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan on April 12, 2021. Photo by Peter J Thompson / National Post

With the third wave of COVID-19 hitting Canada, leading to record case counts, swamped hospitals and new lockdowns, the federal government is keeping emergency supports in place through the summer.

The government is keeping the Canada Recovery Benefit in place. The program was a replacement for the initial $2,000 a month program for people out of work due to the pandemic, who were not covered by employment insurance.

While the benefits will continue, they will be made less generous come July, dropping to $300 per week from $500 now. Extending the CRB, and a similar benefit for people who had to leave their job to care for someone, will cost $2.5 billion.

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Monday

Online classes begin for many Calgary students amid rising COVID-19 rate

Bowness High School in northwest Calgary on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
Bowness High School in northwest Calgary on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Thousands of students in Calgary and in northern Alberta are shifting to online learning today because of rising COVID-19 infection rates.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said last week that Calgary students in grades 7 through 12 would make the move to remote classes. School divisions in Fort McMurray also announced Friday that students in those same grades would be learning from home.

LaGrange said soaring infection rates have put schools under “operational pressures,” sometimes resulting in severe staff shortages.

Read more.


Monday

Quebec and Ontario impose tough restrictions on interprovincial travel

Travellers arrive at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Feb. 22, 2021.
Travellers arrive at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Feb. 22, 2021. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ontario and Quebec have imposed new interprovincial travel restrictions in an effort to slow the surging COVID-19 variants that are putting increasing strain on Ontario’s hospital system.

Starting today, travellers from Manitoba and Quebec cannot enter Ontario unless they live or work in the province, are transporting goods, or are travelling for health, compassionate reasons or to exercise an Aboriginal treaty right.

Quebec has enacted similar rules for its western border with Ontario, and is requiring anyone returning to their primary residence from that province to isolate for 14 days unless they fall under one of the listed exceptions.

Read more.

Other COVID-19 news across Canada today:

Nunavut is reporting six new cases of COVID-19, all in Iqaluit, bringing the city’s total to 28 cases. The city of about 8,000 people, the only place in Nunavut with active cases, is under a strict lockdown with schools, non-essential businesses and government offices closed.

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to consider invoking the federal Emergencies Act given the dire pandemic outlook in Ontario. In a letter to Trudeau, Singh says such a declaration could help ensure a more co-ordinated delivery of vaccines to those who need them most.

Manitobans 40 and older are now able to get the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The province reported 108 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths today.

Quebec is reporting 1,092 new COVID-19 cases today and 15 more deaths. Despite the notable drop in new, daily infections, health officials reported 686 hospitalizations, a rise of three, and 183 people in intensive care, a rise of eight.

Ontario is reporting 4,447 new cases of COVID-19 today and 19 more deaths. The Health Department is reporting that 2,202 people are hospitalized with the disease, with 755 people in ICU and 516 on ventilators.

Nova Scotia is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 today and now has 63 active cases.


Monday

Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

The mass-immunization site at the Telus Convention Centre on April 8, 2021.
The mass-immunization site at the Telus Convention Centre on April 8, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Alberta will officially allow people as young as 40 to get the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine starting tomorrow, with some pharmacies already opening up today.

Tom McMillan, who’s a spokesman for Alberta Health, says there are about 170,000 doses available and appointments will be booked for as long as supplies last. He says it’s not clear when the next AstraZeneca batches will arrive.

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AstraZeneca is one of a number of COVID-19 vaccines being administered, but the only one Alberta is making available to people as young as 40.

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Monday

Hospitalizations continue to rise; ICU admissions now at 103

The Calgary South Health Campus on Monday, March 1, 2021.
The Calgary South Health Campus on Monday, March 1, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Alberta ICU admissions surpassed 100 for the first time since the end of January.

Intensive-care patients represent 23 per cent of Alberta’s 451 total hospitalizations, as 103 people are now receiving care in ICUs. And with another 1,516 cases of COVID-19 reported Sunday, including 800 variant cases, hospitalizations are expected to continue climbing.

Variant cases account for 54.5 per cent of the province’s active cases.

The total new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta logged on Sunday came from 15,343 tests for a positivity rate of 9.8 per cent.

Three additional deaths were reported, including a man in his 70s who was linked to an outbreak at Trinity Reformed Church in Lethbridge, a man in his 60s from the South zone and a man in his 70s from the Edmonton zone.

Read more.


Monday

More COVID-19 outbreaks declared at Calgary daycares and preschools

Brightpath Childcare is one of several daycares reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in Calgary.
Brightpath Childcare is one of several daycares reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in Calgary. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

More child-care facilities are appearing on Alberta’s list of active COVID-19 outbreaks.

Within the City of Calgary alone, there are now seven daycares or preschools considered to have active outbreaks. One month prior, there were only two outbreaks at city child-care centres.

An outbreak is declared when there are five or more cases at one child-care location, and are declared over when four weeks have passed since the last case was identified.

Read more.


Monday

Wanted: People who survived COVID-19 — and are willing to be reinfected

A health care worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Jan. 29, 2021.
A health care worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Jan. 29, 2021. Photo by Dinuka Liyanawatte /Reuters

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People who have fought off the COVID-19 virus will be deliberately reinfected in a first-of-its-kind trial at the University of Oxford that may shed light on how to develop more effective vaccines against the pathogen.

Researchers are looking for 64 healthy, previously COVID-infected volunteers from 18 to 30 years-old to be studied under controlled, quarantined conditions for at least 17 days, the U.K. university said Monday. Participants will be infected with the original strain from Wuhan, China and followed for a year.

Read more.


Monday

There’s a new ‘double mutant’ COVID-19 variant in India. How worried should we be?

A health care worker takes a nasal swab for COVID-19 in Mumbai on April 19, 2021.
A health care worker takes a nasal swab for COVID-19 in Mumbai on April 19, 2021. Photo by Indranil Mukherjee /AFP via Getty Images

With India’s daily tally of COVID-19 infections surging by records, public health experts worry that a new — possibly more virulent — coronavirus variant could be racing through the crowded nation of more than 1.3 billion people.

The new variant, which has a so-called double mutation, is thought to be fueling India’s deadlier new wave of cases that has made it the world’s second worst-hit country, surpassing Brazil again, and has already begun to overwhelm its hospitals and crematoriums. India has reported more than 14.5 million COVID-19 cases so far and more than 175,600 fatalities.

Read more.

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