COVID-19 Update: Cargill clinic a ‘smashing success’ in vaccinating workers | Two Edmonton women helping Albertans book appointments

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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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Postmedia is looking to speak with people who may have been impacted by COVID-19 here in Alberta. Have you had an upcoming surgery postponed? Do you have a family member in the ICU, or have you recovered after spending time in the ICU? 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.



‘Right thing to do:’ Alberta Legislature suspending spring sitting for two weeks as COVID-19 spikes

The Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Nov. 5, 2020.
The Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Nov. 5, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Alberta’s provincial government is suspending the spring sitting of legislature for two weeks amid rising COVID-19 case numbers.

The decision was made after Government House Leader Jason Nixon consulted with the official opposition and advising Speaker Nathan Cooper that the move is in the public interest, said a government press release issued Sunday afternoon.

“With COVID-19 continuing to spread across Alberta, the Government has determined that having MLAs return to Edmonton from all over the province after constituency week is no longer prudent,” said Nixon in the release. “Suspending proceedings is the right thing to do as case counts increase. We continue to strongly encourage all Albertans to follow their local health guidelines and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.”

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The provincial cabinet will continue to meet virtually and legislative committees will proceed virtually. The suspension is set to last until May 17.

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Cargill clinic immunizes 1,638 workers, a ‘bright spot of hope’ in COVID storm

A worker receives a shot at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Cargill meat-packing plant in High River on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
A worker receives a shot at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Cargill meat-packing plant in High River on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Photo by Courtesy Cargill/Jason Dziver

An immunization clinic for workers at the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River was a “smashing success,” according to one organizer.

Doctors running the on-site clinic used every last dose of vaccine they had to inoculate 1,638 workers. They planned to run the clinic for three days, but ran through their supply in only a day and a half.

“We ended up superseding the number of people who had signed up with walk-ins,” said Dr. Gabriel Fabreau, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary who was among co-leads at the clinic.

“It’s a smashing success. It’s an unmitigated, unbelievable success.”

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Vax hunters: Two Edmonton women take Alberta’s vaccine booking system into their own hands

Pharmacist Joanna Wong administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at Market Drugs Medical pharmacy in Edmonton on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Pharmacist Joanna Wong administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at Market Drugs Medical pharmacy in Edmonton on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

Looking to book a vaccine but can’t seem to navigate the system? Two Edmonton women are here to help as they make sure everyone who wants a shot can get one.

Janaya Matheson and Sarah Mackey have spent the past week guiding Albertans through the multitude of avenues available to book vaccine appointments. Posting open slots on social media, supporting people online and answering as many questions as they can, Matheson said they have been flooded with inquiries since they began.

“We’re just a couple of women here who are looking at helping hook people up with appointments, the system is not easy to navigate at all times, people have lots of questions,” said Matheson.

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Saturday

As Alberta logs record 2,433 COVID-19 cases, province scales back variant screening

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Alberta’s record surge of COVID-19 infections reached new heights Saturday, as the province reported 2,433 new cases.

It’s by far the most cases logged in Alberta in a single day, a significant step up from the 2,048 and 2,007 infections reported Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The cases came from 20,457 tests, representing an 11.9 per cent positivity rate, also an all-time high.

The surge has overwhelmed Alberta’s ability to process all new cases, forcing the province to scale back variant testing efforts.

Read more.


Saturday

Calgary doctor urges pregnant women to get vaccinated as hospital visits increase

Dr. Eliana Castillo is urging pregnant individuals to get their COVID-19 vaccination, saying the data shows vaccines are safe in pregnancy.
Dr. Eliana Castillo is urging pregnant individuals to get their COVID-19 vaccination, saying the data shows vaccines are safe in pregnancy. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

A Calgary doctor who specializes in prenatal care says Alberta hospitals have seen an increase of pregnant individuals seeking non-prenatal care in the past three weeks.

Dr. Eliana Castillo is a clinical associate processor for the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine as well as the Alberta lead for the CANCOVID-Preg study.

That effort monitors cases of COVID-19 in pregnant women across Canada.

Here in Alberta, a team lead by Castillo and her colleague Verena Kuret has collected data that shows 1,440 pregnant women have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

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Saturday

Neighbours of Street Church ‘terrorized’ by anti-mask preacher and followers

A group of community members have gathered on the lawn neighbouring Street Church, which is holding a gathering despite COVID-19 restrictions, on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The neighbours of the church say they feel unsafe and harassed by the churchgoers and their pastor Artur Pawlowski.
A group of community members have gathered on the lawn neighbouring Street Church, which is holding a gathering despite COVID-19 restrictions, on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The neighbours of the church say they feel unsafe and harassed by the churchgoers and their pastor Artur Pawlowski. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Postmedia

Community members living near Street Church say preacher Artur Pawlowski and his followers have threatened neighbours with violence after speaking out against the congregation’s disregard for public health measures and hateful rhetoric.

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The southeast Calgary church, located at 4315 26th Ave. S.E., hosted another mass gathering on Saturday with hundreds of unmasked individuals outwardly defying provincial restrictions, including the 10-person cap on outdoor gatherings. He has been issued several notices from Alberta Health Services and Calgary police for flouting public health measures.

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Saturday

B.C. won’t run checkstops at border, but province urges Albertans to stay home

FILE – The British Columbia highway welcome sign.
FILE – The British Columbia highway welcome sign. Photo by Postmedia Archives

Albertans travelling into British Columbia won’t face checkstops amid the province’s new restrictions, B.C.’s solicitor general says.

But that doesn’t mean Alberta residents should make any non-essential trips west, said Mike Farnworth.

“There will be signage that says there should be essential travel only,” Farnworth told Postmedia Friday.

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Saturday

Doctor’s note not required for youth vaccination: Dr. Hinshaw

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Youth will no longer be required to have a doctor’s note to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under Phase 2B of Alberta’s vaccine rollout, announced Alberta’s top doctor on Saturday.

Residents born between 2006 and 2009, ages 12 to 15, are currently eligible for the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine if they have high-risk underlying health conditions, such as cancer or chronic respiratory diseases.

Read more.

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