COVID-19 Update: GraceLife Church holds another service as pastor returns | Data shows vaccine is curbing seniors’ infections, deaths

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.


Pharmacies in and around Calgary offering COVID-19 vaccine

This map shows 53 pharmacies in Calgary, Chestermere and Airdrie offering the COVID-19 vaccine. More locations will be added in the coming days, according to the provincial government. Appointments are still required and can be booked by contacting the participating pharmacies. Details on eligibility and booking can be found here.


GraceLife Church pastor returns to pulpit after jail time for breaching COVID-19 public health order

GraceLife Church was bustling Sunday morning as pastor James Coates returned to the pulpit after being jailed in February for flouting COVID-19 public health measures.
GraceLife Church was bustling Sunday morning as pastor James Coates returned to the pulpit after being jailed in February for flouting COVID-19 public health measures. Photo by GREG SOUTHAM/Postmedia

GraceLife Church was bustling Sunday morning as pastor James Coates returned to the pulpit after being jailed in February for flouting COVID-19 public health measures.

The church just a few minutes west of Edmonton in Parkland County has continued to hold packed Sunday services despite RCMP and Alberta Health Services inspectors appearing each week to ensure public health measures aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 are followed. RCMP officials have repeatedly stated those measures were not followed while they were on scene. The parking lot was filling quickly around 10 a.m. Sunday, prior to the 10:45 a.m. sermon from Coates.

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Coates was released from custody Monday after pleading guilty to breaching a court undertaking that revolved around following COVID-19 public health restrictions. He remained at the Edmonton Remand Centre for 35 days after not agreeing to following court orders if released.

Read more.


Alberta prisoner populations rise after ‘unprecedented’ drop during COVID’s early months

A prison common area inside the Edmonton Remand Centre. Alberta jail populations dropped 35 per cent at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but have crept upward since.
A prison common area inside the Edmonton Remand Centre. Alberta jail populations dropped 35 per cent at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but have crept upward since. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia, file

The number of people locked up in Alberta’s provincial jails plummeted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but has trended upward in the year since, according to new data obtained by Postmedia.

Alberta corrections populations fell 35 per cent at the outset of the pandemic, as the justice system responded to worries about coronavirus outbreaks in jails and remand centres.

But after bottoming out in the summer, the number of provincial inmates started to climb. The first outbreaks in the Alberta corrections system occurred during the second wave of infections, which coincided with that rise.

Since then, a total of 1,310 inmates, staff and contractors have fallen ill with the virus. Justin Piché, a University of Ottawa criminologist who has been tracking COVID-19 cases in prisons, said as of March 10, 2021, Alberta had the most cumulative COVID cases of any provincial correctional system, second only to the federal Correctional Service Canada.

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Saturday

Vaccines curbing infection, death rates among Alberta seniors, data suggests

Louise Smyth, 97, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Jess Britton, Registered nurse, in Calgary on Monday, March 15, 2021.
Louise Smyth, 97, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Jess Britton, Registered nurse, in Calgary on Monday, March 15, 2021. Photo by LEAH HENNEL/ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES

COVID-19 mortality and infection rates among Alberta seniors have declined alongside the early stages of the province’s immunization program, data shows.

Among deaths from COVID-19 reported in the past two weeks, 53 per cent involve an Albertan aged 80 or over. Of Alberta’s 1,980 total deaths, 64 per cent are in the 80-plus age group.

The difference in mortality is even more pronounced in deaths at continuing-care centres, where the novel coronavirus has done the most damage. In the last 14 days, 30 per cent of COVID-19 deaths have been in the facilities, compared to 62 per cent of deaths all-time.

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Saturday

668 new cases, 1 death

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Alberta reported another 668 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, as well as 207 more cases of more-contagious variants of the virus.

All 207 new variant cases are the B.1.1.7 strain originating in the United Kingdom. There are now 1,803 active variant cases in Alberta, making up 24.5 per cent of all active cases provincewide, the largest proportion to date.

While the B.1.351 strain first found in South Africa and the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil have both been detected in Alberta, only B.1.1.7 has seen widespread transmission. Of Alberta’s 2,833 variant cases, 2,808 are the B.1.1.7 strain.

The 668 new cases Saturday came from 11,522 tests, representing a 5.8 per cent positivity rate, in line with the seven-day average.


Saturday

Second Joey restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19

Joey Crowfoot has voluntarily shut down after two employees contracted COVID-19.
Joey Crowfoot has voluntarily shut down after two employees contracted COVID-19. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

Joey Crowfoot restaurant has temporarily shut down after staff tested positive for COVID-19.

A pre-recorded message on the restaurant’s phone system tells callers that two staff members “recently” tested positive for the virus.

“With an abundance of caution for our guests and employees, we will be closed today, and will be doing a deep clean of our property,” says the message. “We will reopen when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”

Read more.


Saturday

Blood donations from those who have had COVID-19 are safe: Canadian Blood Services

A man donates plasma at a Canadian Blood Services centre in London, Ont.
A man donates plasma at a Canadian Blood Services centre in London, Ont. Photo by Mike Hensen/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network

Canadian Blood Services is reassuring the public that blood donated by anyone who has had COVID-19 or who has been vaccinated is safe.

“Given that COVID is a respiratory virus, there’s no impact to the blood as far as transmission to a patient. There is no concern,” said Chantale Pambrun, director of the Canadian Blood Services Centre for Innovation in Ottawa.

More than 955,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Canada in the past year and the long-term effects on survivors are still mostly unknown.

The blood donation agency has added some pre-screening questions about whether a potential donor has been exposed to COVID-19 in the past two weeks or contracted the novel coronavirus in the past 28 days.

Read more.

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