COVID-19 Update: 305 new cases, 15 deaths | Newfoundland suspends in-person voting in Saturday’s election as cases skyrocket

Follow this story for COVID-19 news in Calgary 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.


What’s happening now

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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. Are you quarantining due to being exposed to the variant? Have you received your vaccine, and if so did you feel any side effects? 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.



Choir director floored by religious-only allowances for singing

Calgary choir director and small business owner Jamie Serafi, who runs Cool Choir — Calgary’s largest pop and rock choir — is upset at certain COVID rule relaxations that he says may be discriminatory. Photo taken on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

A Calgary choir director wants to know why religious groups are getting permission from Alberta Health to sing during worship services, while his commercial choir will have to wait until Stage 4 of the re-opening for practices.

“I can stand in a church and sing Godspell, but I cannot stand in a church and sing Grease, because COVID apparently knows the difference between religious music and non-religious music, and that is the circus of it all,” said Jamie Serafi, the leader of Calgary-based Cool Choir.

Before COVID, he had about 500 members who paid membership fees to attend regular practices, but now he’s down to 150 members who join in online Zoom practices.

Read more.


U of C joins trial of novel drug Metablox, hoped to reduce organ inflammation in severe COVID-19 patients

Dr. Dan Muruve (left), chief science officer of Arch Biopartners, and Dr. Alain Tremblay, professor at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, are facilitating a Phase II human trial in Calgary for Metablox, a drug developed to combat organ inflammation often in severe cases of COVID-19.
Dr. Dan Muruve (left), chief science officer of Arch Biopartners, and Dr. Alain Tremblay, professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, are facilitating a Phase II human trial in Calgary for Metablox, a drug developed to combat organ inflammation often in severe cases of COVID-19. Photo by Submited

A made-in-Calgary drug researchers hope can treat organ inflammation is now being tested on local COVID-19 patients.

The University of Calgary has joined a Phase II human trial of Metablox, a novel drug developed to combat inflammation of the lungs, kidneys and other organs — complications often seen in those with moderate to severe cases infections of the novel coronavirus.

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The drug, which has the generic name LSALT peptide, was discovered by Toronto-based Arch Biopartners. The company’s chief science officer Dr. Dan Muruve said the drug was identified about five years ago but emerged as a possible therapy for COVID-19 when the pandemic began.

Read more.


305 new cases, 15 deaths

Saturday brought another 305 new cases of COVID-19 to Alberta.

The newly detected infections came from 8,070 tests, representing a 3.8 per cent positivity rate — about the same as the seven-day average.

The province also reported an additional 15 deaths from the virus, including six within the Alberta Health Services Calgary zone. Two of the new deaths were residents of Calgary’s Sagewood AgeCare continuing-care centre.

To date, 1,775 Albertans have died of COVID-19, including 595 since the start of 2021.

Though Alberta’s death toll continues to climb, its active case count and hospitalization numbers declined once again Saturday.

There are now 5,271 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, down from 5,407. It marks the lowest number of active infections in the province since Oct. 29.

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As well, there are now 359 Albertans in hospital with the virus, 64 of whom are in ICU. It’s a decrease from 371 hospitalizations and 66 ICU admissions the previous day.

Vaccination rates continued a slow climb, with the province administering another 3,725 doses through end-of-day Friday to reach 144,114 total jabs. There are now 49,166 Albertans fully immunized after receiving two shots of vaccine.

Alberta did not provided updated counts for variant cases Saturday, as the province currently updates those numbers on weekdays.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw will next address Albertans Tuesday, following the long weekend.

With three separate holidays landing on the long weekend, Hinshaw took to Twitter Saturday to urge continued adherence to COVID-19 public-health guidelines.

“Stay safe this long weekend as you’re celebrating Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day and Family Day,” Hinshaw said. “Don’t give COVID-19 the chance to spread. Connect with family, friends and loved ones online or meet outdoors with no more than 10 people and stay two metres apart.”

– Jason Herring


Notifications start going out for next phase of COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Marjorie Lilley is a 97-year-old senior living at Canterbury in west Edmonton. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

New details on the next phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout are emerging, despite no official update from Alberta Health.

Seniors in one licensed supportive living facility, which was left out of the first wave of the immunization campaign, received an update by email Friday saying their first dose is now scheduled for Feb. 24.

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But unlike those in the designated supportive living and long-term care vaccinated previously, immunization will be limited to those residents 75 and older.

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Most Canadians say they will get COVID-19 vaccine if their employer makes it mandatory: poll

An earlier poll showed Canadians were mostly against the idea of the federal government making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory. Photo by Tim Smith/Pool/The Canadian Press/File

Though most Canadians don’t support mandatory vaccination, an overwhelming majority say they’ll get the vaccine if their employer makes it necessary in order to keep their job, a new poll reveals.

In total, 80 per cent of Canadians say they would agree to get vaccinated if their employer required them to do so, reveals a Léger poll conducted in late January on behalf of the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS).

Read more.


Friday

Newfoundland suspends in-person voting in Saturday’s election

Newfoundland and Labrador has suspended in-person voting in Saturday’s election as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in the province.

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The election was to take place on Saturday with ballots taken across the province. All the in-person voting booths will be suspended and the election will move exclusively to mail-in ballots, which must be returned on or before March 1.

The province has been dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 in St. John’s, which has spiked the province’s case count.

On Feb. 7, there were 16 active cases in the province. That number has jumped to 260 since after three straight days of the 50-plus new cases being reported, including 100 on Thursday.

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The outbreak in St. John’s is due to the more infectious U.K. variant, according to a report by CBC.

The province moved back to its highest “alert level” on Friday, level five, which encourages people to stay home as much as possible except to get essentials like groceries and medicines. Gatherings of more than five people are prohibited and retail stores “that do no provide services essential to life, health or personal safety of individuals and animals” are closed but can offer delivery or curbside pick-up. Restaurants, bars, lounges and personal service establishments like spas, hair salons and tattoo studios are also closed.



Friday

‘We’ve cast a wide net’: Alberta finds 15 more variant infections in past tests

Alberta reported another 314 cases of COVID-19 Friday as the province enters the Family Day long weekend.

The newly reported infections come from 8,410 tests, representing a 3.7 per cent positivity rate, in-line with the seven-day average.

As well, Alberta reported 15 more infections found to be variant strains of the novel coronavirus. The 15 additional variant cases are all the B117 strain first detected in the United Kingdom; Alberta has now logged 164 cases of that strain, as well as seven of the B1351 variant that originated in South Africa.

Read more.


Friday

314 new cases, 16 deaths

There was no live stream update from Dr. Deena Hinshaw on COVID-19 on Friday and there isn’t another one scheduled until after the long weekend on Tuesday.

The latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta:

  • 314 new cases on 8,410 tests
  • 16 deaths; 1,760 total
  • 5,407 active cases; 121,068 recovered
  • 371 in hospital; 66 in ICUs

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Hospitalizations and deaths in Alberta

Rockyview General Hospital in southwest Calgary on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Friday

Four things to do with your beau in Calgary this pandemic Valentine’s Day

While love in the time of COVID may not be ideal, there are a number of ways you can still celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day with the one you love.

Read more.

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