COVID-19 Update: 364 new cases, five deaths | Rapid testing pilot coming to Calgary schools | AstraZeneca eligibility expands by two years

Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Calgary.

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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.



Calgary pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccine

This map shows all 48 Calgary pharmacies that are offering the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently the vaccine is open to all Albertans born in the year 1946 or earlier. Appointments are still necessary and can be booked by contacting the participating pharmacies. Details on booking your vaccine jab at a pharmacy can be found here.


AstraZeneca shots start as eligibility expands to 1959, 1960 birthdays today

Nurses administered the first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine into the arms of Albertans Thursday morning.

The immunizations mark the start of Alberta’s rollout of a third vaccine that promises to accelerate timelines for inoculations across the province.

Sign-ups for the AstraZeneca jab began Wednesday morning for Albertans with no severe illness born in 1957, and for First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) individuals born in 1972. On Thursday, eligibility further expanded to those born in 1958 and 1973, respectively.

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Thursday

COVID-19 rapid testing pilot coming to two Calgary schools

The Canadian flag at Western Canada High School is half-mast in response to Prime Minister Trudeau declaring March 11, 2021 National Day of Observance to remember lost lives as a result of COVID-19. Flags at other CBE buildings and schools will be half-mast for the rest of the day.
The Canadian flag at Western Canada High School is half-mast in response to Prime Minister Trudeau declaring March 11, 2021 National Day of Observance to remember lost lives as a result of COVID-19. Flags at other CBE buildings and schools will be half-mast for the rest of the day. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Two Calgary schools will host a new rapid testing pilot program for COVID-19 beginning next week.

Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced the pilot at a Thursday press conference. More than 100,000 rapid testing kits will be provided for the program, with rapid tests offered to all students and staff with no symptoms each week for three weeks.

Parents of minors will be required to sign consent forms for their child to be tested as part of the pilot. Any positive cases found will be dealt with following the same protocol already in use for cases found at schools.

Read more.


Thursday

Braid: UCP travel scandal not dead yet, and continues to haunt Kenney

Premier Jason Kenney defended paying severance to his former chief of staff on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
Premier Jason Kenney defended paying severance to his former chief of staff on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia, file

Columnist Don Braid writes:

Political scandals often have an active afterlife. Governments bury them. The opposition digs them up.

So it is with the foreign travel uproar that saw government MLAs demoted, a minister booted out of cabinet and the premier’s top aide fired.

The NDP is exhuming energetically, armed with facts obtained through Freedom of Information.

They’re fascinating for what they show about the internal swirl that goes on around the boss, Premier Jason Kenney.

Read more.


Thursday

Calgary church ticketed second time for alleged COVID-19 violations

Calgary police, city bylaw and an Alberta Health Services official visited Fairview Baptist Church during a service on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021.
Calgary police, city bylaw and an Alberta Health Services official visited Fairview Baptist Church during a service on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

A defiant Fairview Baptist Church has been charged a second time for allegedly violating COVID-19 restrictions.

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On Thursday, city officials said they’ve issued two tickets under the Public Health Act for allegedly breaching distancing and capacity regulations meant to slow the spread of the virus.

“Community peace officers will continue to work alongside AHS (Alberta Health Services) and CPS (Calgary Police Service) to investigate complaints surrounding this location,” said a statement issued by the city.

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Thursday

Rapid testing pilot coming to schools; 364 new cases, five deaths

Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange joined Alberta’s chief officer of medical health Dr. Deena Hinshaw at Thursday afternoon update.

  • LaGrange announced a rapid testing pilot program for schools that will begin next week
  • The program will start at two Calgary schools, testing asymptomatic students and staff
  • Both the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District will be involved; the schools have not been selected
  • Rapid tests will also be deployed to WestJet; oil and gas, banking, telecommunications and transportation sectors; seniors lodges and hospices; and the Cargill plant in High River, Shandro said
  • Over 317,000 vaccines administered; More than 91,000 Albertans fully immunized
  • 364 new cases of COVID-19 on 10,167 tests; ~4% positivity rate
  • 259 in hospital; 38 in ICUs
  • Five additional deaths; 1,933 total
  • 4,488 active cases; 130,716 recovered
  • 41 additional variant cases; 775 total
  • Active alerts or outbreaks in 256 schools; 1,017 cases in these schools since Jan. 11

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Thursday

COVID hospitalizations and deaths in Alberta

Flags outside the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary were at half mast Thursday, marking a National Day of Observance to remember those who have died as a result of COVID-19.
Flags outside the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary were at half mast Thursday, marking a National Day of Observance to remember those who have died as a result of COVID-19. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Thursday

GraceLife Church has been charged with violating COVID-19 public health orders. What does that mean?

Another Sunday service at the GraceLife Church went ahead defying public health orders west of Edmonton, March 7, 2021.
Another Sunday service at the GraceLife Church went ahead defying public health orders west of Edmonton, March 7, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

GraceLife Church in Parkland County and its pastor, James Coates, have been charged with violating COVID-19 public health orders and are scheduled to appear in court in May. Postmedia spoke with Eric Adams, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Alberta, about what those charges mean.

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Thursday

Alberta police ask province for timely access to COVID-19 vaccines

Edmonton Police Service.
Edmonton Police Service. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia, file

Associations representing Alberta police are calling on the province to ensure first responders have timely access to COVID-19 vaccines.

In a statement on behalf of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP) and the Alberta Federation of Police Associations (AFPA), AACP President and Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee and AFPA President Curtis Hoople said they are asking the province to look at expanding Phase 2 of vaccine rollout to include frontline first responders.

Currently, police are not defined in Alberta’s vaccine plan.

Read more.


Thursday

Brewsters closes Beltline location

Calgary restaurant and brewery Brewsters is closing its Beltline location.

In an announcement on Twitter, it said the location will be permanently closed after three decades.

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“We served millions of tasters in those years, educating and watching people expand their tastes, emerging into dedicated Brewsters fans and friends,” read a tweet from Brewsters. “Today’s beer scene in Alberta has grown to a place we only could have imagined when we started.”

The chain will still be operating at eight other locations.

Beer Revolution, which shares the building with the Beltline Brewsters, will also be closing. In a tweet, the restaurant chain, which is also owned by Brewsters, said it would be back and that its Edmonton location will still be open. In December, Beer Revolution had also permanently shuttered its 130th Avenue S.E. location.

Brewsters was founded by Michael Lanigan with his brother in Moose Jaw in 1989. Lanigan moved to Calgary and opened the Beltline location, the first in Alberta, in 1991. After his death in 2013, Lanigan’s children, Deidre, Andrew and Matt, took over the business.


Thursday

Vaccination site opens at Genesis Centre

The Genesis Centre is seen in this file photo.
The Genesis Centre is seen in this file photo. Photo by Christina Ryan /Calgary Herald

Alberta Health Services opened a new COVID-19 immunization site at the Genesis Centre in northeast Calgary this morning.

It is now the second AHS-run site in the city’s northeast quadrant, which also has eight participating pharmacies administering the vaccine. AHS has 24 immunization sites across Calgary.

The Genesis Centre site has 10 vaccination stations and it can immunize about 60 people per hour. It is also one of two sites in the city offering the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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The Genesis Centre is open daily from 7 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., with extended hours for the first week, starting on March 12. Immunization is by appointment only.


Thursday

Hinshaw addresses concerns over AstraZeneca vaccine

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses being offered in the province have not been linked to the reports of side effects in some European countries.

At least nine European countries, including Denmark and Italy, are pausing their use of AstraZeneca’s doses — some entirely, and others only on specific batches — pending further investigation of blood clots following inoculations.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Alberta is using COVIShield, which is the brand name of a vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India that Health Canada considers equivalent to AstraZeneca.

“I want to assure Albertans that the current doses of COVIShield AstraZeneca vaccine offered in Alberta have not been linked to the side effects issues reported in some European countries linked to one lot of vaccine,” she tweeted Thursday.

Read more.

Related: No sign Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots, say Canadian health authorities 

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