COVID-19 Update: City update at 10:30 a.m. | Hinshaw says March 1 reopening could happen without one week’s notice | 273 new cases, 16 deaths

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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

  • Mayor Naheed Nenshi and CEMA chief Sue Henry will give a pandemic update at 10:30 a.m.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday a Step 2 reopening could happen on March 1, without any notice to businesses.
  • Alberta reported 273 new cases of COVID-19 on ~6,100 tests and 16 additional deaths on Monday. Ten of the deaths were from December which were discovered to be from COVID-19 post-mortem.
  • Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that no decision on moving to the second phase of the province’s relaunch will be made until March 1 at the earliest.
  • A Calgary church, ticketed previously for violating public-health restrictions, said it would continue to defy restrictions in unity with other worshippers in the province.
  • Canada is poised to receive a record number of COVID-19 vaccine doses this week thanks to scheduled deliveries from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as the country looks to speed up its vaccination efforts.
  • A mandatory three-day hotel quarantine for most travellers landing at Canadian airports comes into effect today, along with a suite of measures meant to prevent contagious COVID-19 variants from entering the country.
  • Some front-line workers, including teachers and bus drivers, are questioning why they’ve been left out of the province’s vaccination plans.
  • Alberta will begin administering COVID-19 vaccine to seniors 75 and over and those living in congregate seniors’ care settings who have yet to receive the jab.
  • Despite already reaching the hospitalization benchmark for the next phase of reopening, Premier Jason Kenney said Friday that it’s not guaranteed the province will reopen March 1.
  • Canadian health officials said tough public measures should be maintained to prevent new variants of COVID-19 from triggering a third wave.

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Numbers reported by Alberta Health on Monday, Feb. 22.

City to deliver pandemic response update at 10:30 a.m.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi urged Calgarians to increase their vigilance as COVID-19 numbers surge in the city. Nenshi spoke on Wednesday, October 28, 2020.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and CEMA chief Sue Henry will be delivering a pandemic update at 10:30 a.m. this morning.

Watch for a livestream of the press conference on this page,


Hinshaw clarifies Step 2 reopening timing

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In a series of tweets, Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Alberta could begin Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan as early as March 1.

For Step 1, restaurants requested one week’s notice so they could prepare for the return of restaurant dining.

Hinshaw said that week’s notice may not be necessary for other businesses, and therefore the decision to reopen on March 1 could be made that day.


Monday

International air passengers grumble as they’re forced into quarantine hotels on new rule’s first day

A traveller arrives at the mandatory quarantine Alt Hotel near Toronto’s Pearson Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic, Monday February 22, 2021. Photo by Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Michelle Fernandes could almost see her home from the steps of the Sheraton Four Points hotel near Toronto Pearson International Airport on Monday.

She had flown all the way from New Delhi that morning, but lives nearby in Mississauga, the suburban municipality where Pearson is located.

“I don’t think it’s necessary because I could have quarantined in my basement,” said Fernandes, Pearson’s tarmac and parked airliners visible over her shoulders. “It’s a full-fledged house.”

It was a common sentiment Monday as Canada put into motion one of the most dramatic measures yet to control the spread of COVID-19, a rule that has prompted talk of constitutional challenges and complaints of unlawful confinement.

Read more.


Canada was too slow and risk-averse in funding domestic vaccine candidates, MPs told

Canada “took a careful, risk-averse and committee-based decision approach” to funding domestic COVID-19 vaccine development, Entos Pharmaceuticals CEO John Lewis told the House of Commons health committee. Photo by parlvu.parl.gc.ca

Canada could have done more to boost homegrown COVID-19 vaccines last spring but the federal government and its agencies were too slow and risk-averse when it came to funding, a parliamentary committee heard Monday.

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John Lewis, CEO of Entos Pharmaceuticals, said his Alberta company has a vaccine candidate in development but never received the kind of early, up-front funding that the U.S. and U.K. governments put into their own vaccine production.

Read more.


Elise Stolte: ‘Kind of amazing’ data should open doors for vaccinated care homes

Edmonton Journal columnist Elise Stolte writes:

Infection rates among vulnerable care home residents who got the COVID-19 vaccine have plummeted in Alberta and at a rate that brings excitement and relief.

Now when will it lead to family reunions?

“It really is kind of amazing,” said infectious disease expert Lynora Saxinger Monday, after combing through Alberta Health Services’ data all weekend.

The vaccine is really working, she said. “Everyone is staring at data coming out of Israel so intently. We actually have that data right here.”

Read more.


Monday

Alberta reports 273 new COVID-19 cases as Hinshaw shares recent positive trends

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided, from Edmonton on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, an update on COVID-19. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Alberta’s top doctor shared positive trends seen in the province’s case rates at continuing-care centres and schools on Monday, though she continued to caution the trends could reverse quickly.

Active cases peaked at 776 cases in long-term care facilities in late December but dropped to 63 by Saturday — a 92 per cent decline in less than two months— Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health explained.

Read more.


Hospitalizations and deaths in Alberta

Foothills Hospital in Calgary on Sept. 21, 2020. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

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Monday

GraceLife Church pastor to face judge March 31; police review Saturday protest videos after officers punched

GraceLife Church in Parkland County, Alberta defied Alberta government public gathering restrictions on the weekend and held a church service where almost 300 people attended, many without face masks and ignoring social distancing regulations. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

An Edmonton-area pastor in custody for breaching COVID-19 health orders at his church will face two charges in court at the end of March.

James Coates, pastor of GraceLife Church in Parkland County, will appear in Stony Plain Provincial Court March 31 according to court documents obtained by Postmedia. Coates is charged with violating two chief medical officer of health orders between Dec. 27, 2020 and Feb. 7, 2021, one limiting attendance at a place of worship to 15 per cent of fire code capacity, and the second mandating people maintain at least two metres distance between them. Breaching health orders is punishable under Section 73 (1) of the Public Health Act.

Read more.


Monday

Calgary church vows to defy COVID-19 restrictions in unity with other worshippers

Fariview Baptist Church held an in-person Sunday service on Sunday, February 21, 2021. The church has said it would defy current capacity restrictions that limit in-person faith gatherings to 15 per cent of fire code capacity. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

A Calgary church already ticketed for violating COVID-19 restrictions is vowing to continue defying health regulations, partly in support of Edmonton-area worshippers whose pastor has been jailed.

Fairview Baptist Church, 230 78 Ave. S.E., held a pair of services Sunday that attracted numerous members as well as the attention of city officials.

And its senior pastor said other churches throughout the province will soon join in solidarity to reject the restrictions.

Read more.


Monday

No decisions on moving to next phase of reopening will be made before March 1: Hinshaw

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Jan. 28, 2021. Photo by Chris Schwarz /Government of Alberta

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Alberta needs the full three weeks between relaunch steps before it will make any decision on easing restrictions further, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Monday.

That means there will be no decision made on the next step of reopening until at least March 1, she said.

Hinshaw said that both the positivity rate of recent COVID-19 tests and the province’s R-value (which measures how much the virus is currently spreading) have increased in recent days. The province’s R-value was again above one for the past week, which means cases of the virus is currently growing exponentially.

“That’s why we need to take the full three weeks to be able to look very closely at where those numbers are coming from — are there patterns, are there things that we can do to be able to target particular locations — and give us a chance to be able to evaluate if this is a few day fluctuation or whether this is a longer trend that is concerning,” Hinshaw said during her COVID-19 update on Monday

She said that they would provide business operators with at least one week’s notice of reopening, meaning that the earliest the province would possibly move into the second step of reopening would be March 8.

The multi-step relaunch had included hospitalization benchmarks when it was first announced by Premier Jason Kenney at the beginning of February, but both Kenney and Hinshaw had warned that number of hospitalizations wasn’t the only metric the province would be looking at as it considered easing restrictions. Kenney also said there would be at least three weeks between steps.

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Step 2 of the relaunch, with a benchmark of under 450 COVID-19 hospitalizations, would potentially see restrictions eased on retail, banquet and community halls, conference centres, hotels, indoor fitness and children’s sport and performance.

As of Monday, there are 325 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, including 53 in intensive-care units.


Monday

273 new cases, 16 deaths

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, provided an update on COVID-19.

  • Over 173,000 doses of vaccine administered; ~69,000 Albertans fully immunized
  • 273 new cases on ~6,100 tests; 4.5% positivity rate
  • 325 in hospital; 53 in ICUs
  • 16 new deaths; 1,827 total
  • 4,758 active cases; 124,478 recovered
  • 10 of the deaths were in December and were discovered to be from COVID-19 in post-mortem analysis
  • R-value 1.03 over the past week, which means cases are rising, Hinshaw said
  • 235 schools under alerts or outbreaks; 840 cases in these schools since Jan. 11
  • 11 additional variant cases; On average, variant cases represent 3.5% of cases in February
  • No decisions on moving to step 2 will be made prior to March 1, Hinshaw said

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Monday

Cold snap leads to spike in COVID-19 cases at Calgary Drop-In Centre

The Calgary Drop-In Centre was photographed on Monday, March 23, 2020.
The Calgary Drop-In Centre was photographed on Monday, March 23, 2020. Gavin Young/Postmedia

The Calgary Drop-In Centre saw new COVID-19 cases spike among clients and staff over the past two weeks as the recent cold snap led to busier conditions than usual at the shelter.

There were 24 active cases at the shelter’s main building, along with five active cases among staff, as of Sunday evening. Those 29 infections were more than double the active cases the shelter had just one week ago, when there were 14, and up from just two active cases two weeks ago.

Read more.


Monday

Letter calls on Kenney to apologize for comments on South Asian community, consult with racialized Albertans

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

A group of public health students at the University of Alberta are calling on Premier Jason Kenney to apologize for his comments last November about COVID-19 spread in Calgary’s South Asian community and for more consultation with racialized Albertans to understand the unique challenges they’ve faced during the pandemic.

An open letter released Monday condemned the UCP government’s “failure to collect and act on data on the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on racialized Albertans.”

Read more.

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