COVID-19 Update: ICU admissions at all-time high | 2,007 new cases, 7 deaths | AHS releases triage protocol

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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 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.



Friday

Plans to distribute first doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on hold

A nurse displays a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vial at a vaccination centre in Chicago.
A nurse displays a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vial at a vaccination centre in Chicago. Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Plans to distribute the first 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine next week are on hold after Health Canada learned part of them were manufactured at a Maryland facility that messed up the ingredients in 15 million doses bound for the U.S. market.

Alberta had planned to use its approximately 30,000 doses of the vaccine, expected to arrive Friday, to immunize residents of Banff and Fort MacMurray, two viral transmission hotspots.

The province did not immediately provide comment on the setback and how it may impact immunizations in those communities.

Read more.


Friday

AHS issues triage protocol for critical care as ICU admissions reach all-time high

Nurses prepare to treat a COVID-19 patient at Peter Lougheed Hospital on Nov. 14, 2020.
Nurses prepare to treat a COVID-19 patient at Peter Lougheed Hospital on Nov. 14, 2020. Photo by Leah Hennel/AHS

Patients with greater chances of surviving beyond the next year should be prioritized if Alberta’s health-care system is overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, new documents released by Alberta Health Services Friday reveal.

The triage protocol will be used to determine which patients will receive critical care if demand on the health-care system exceeds resources.

The 50-page Critical Care Triage Framework comes as an all-time high number of COVID-19 patients are receiving treatment in intensive-care units. As of Thursday, there are 151 patients in Alberta ICUs with COVID-19, matching the peak seen during the pandemic’s second wave.

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Here is a copy of the document released today:

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Also on Friday:

  • There are 152 patients in Alberta ICUs with COVID-19, surpassing the peak of 151 admissions during the pandemic’s second wave.
  • The province’s active case count rose to another all-time high, with 21,828 infections remaining active in the province.
  • Another 989 variant cases were detected in Alberta. The province now has 13,440 active variant cases, representing 61.6 per cent of its active total.
  • Seven more deaths for the virus were reported, bringing the pandemic’s toll in Alberta to 2,082.
  • There were 18,955 tests conducted for a positivity rate of about 10.6 per cent.

Friday

‘I’m not the police’: Restaurants, bars grapple with enforcing COVID-19 rules on patios

Customers are served behind plexiglass on the patio at the Cold Garden Beverage Company in Inglewood on Friday.
Customers are served behind plexiglass on the patio at the Cold Garden Beverage Company in Inglewood on Friday. Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Asking restaurants to crack down harder on patrons who mix outside their household group on patios is a tall order, say some Calgary eatery managers.

On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney said his government will work with restaurants to enforce public health orders in the province’s COVID-19 hotspots, including Calgary.

But some restaurant and bar managers say they’re too busy to worry about tougher policing of cohort groups. And one manager said her staff is already taking abuse from customers who are reluctant to follow rules.

Read more.


Friday

Mass vaccine site at Genesis Centre to extend hours during Ramadan

The COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at the Genesis Centre in northeast Calgary.
The COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at the Genesis Centre in northeast Calgary. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

A northeast Calgary COVID-19 immunization clinic will remain open after sunset to allow more Muslims to get their shot during Ramadan.

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Between May 4 and 10, the vaccine clinic at the Genesis Centre will stay open each day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

It’s a decision that will give the city’s 100,000 Muslims more flexibility to get immunized during the holy month, said Rajan Sawhney, Alberta’s minister of community and social services and MLA for Calgary-North East.

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Friday

Latest round of restrictions not enough to curb spread, says Alberta infectious disease expert

Pedestrians walk past a sign on the Theatre Calgary building on 9th Avenue S.E. on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
Pedestrians walk past a sign on the Theatre Calgary building on 9th Avenue S.E. on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Alberta’s latest round of COVID-19 restrictions are too little, too late, says an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta.

On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney announced new restrictions in “hot spots” where there are at least 350 cases per 100,000 people and more than 250 cases total. Students in grades 7-12 in these areas will move to online learning Monday — restrictions already in place in Calgary and Edmonton.

Dr. Stephanie Smith, an associate professor and infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta, says that while the new measures will affect many people trying to make a living, they most likely won’t be effective at curbing rising case rates.

“I think the restrictions that were put in place were fairly minimal,” said Smith. “Truthfully, it’s not going to have a significant impact on case numbers.”

Read more.


Friday

Death due to COVID-19 parties could lead to manslaughter charges: experts

Mohammad Movassaghi leaves the Vancouver Police Department on Jan. 31, 2021, after he was charged with breaking public health orders by running a makeshift nightclub at his penthouse.
Mohammad Movassaghi leaves the Vancouver Police Department on Jan. 31, 2021, after he was charged with breaking public health orders by running a makeshift nightclub at his penthouse. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

People who break health rules by holding parties that lead to death from COVID-19 should heed the warning from a British Columbia judge about facing a manslaughter charge, legal experts say.

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Provincial court Judge Ellen Gordon chastised Mohammad Movassaghi this week as she sentenced him to one day in jail, a $5,000 fine and 18 months’ probation. He had previously pleaded guilty to disobeying a court order, failing to comply with a health officer’s order and unlawfully purchasing grain alcohol.

Movassaghi held a party for 78 people in a penthouse condominium that was about 165 square metres in size that police described as a makeshift nightclub.

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Friday

City quashes hundreds of parking tickets issued at mass vaccination site

Chad Weyman holds a parking ticket he received while waiting for vaccination at the Telus Convention Centre.
Chad Weyman holds a parking ticket he received while waiting for vaccination at the Telus Convention Centre. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Hundreds of Calgarians who received parking tickets while getting COVID-19 shots in the city’s downtown won’t feel their sting.

After complaints from some of those who were issued $40 fines while being inoculated at the mass vaccination site at the Telus Convention Centre, the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) which operates the parkade beneath the building, said Friday they won’t have to pay more than 1,500 of them.

The matter came up during a city press conference on Thursday, where Mayor Naheed Nenshi was surprised to hear about the tickets.

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Friday

COVID-19 developments across Canada

A man hands out face masks in a bush shelter in Winnipeg on April 30, 2021.
A man hands out face masks in a bush shelter in Winnipeg on April 30, 2021. Photo by Chris Procaylo/Postmedia

Saskatchewan is reporting 264 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths. Many of the new cases are in Regina and Saskatoon, but there are cases throughout the province. There are 173 people in hospital, with 37 of those patients in intensive care.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says if it were up to him, he’d shut down Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and the province’s land borders. He’s pushing Ottawa to tighten travel restrictions amid a COVID-19 surge in his province. Ford says some travellers are exploiting loopholes in federal border measures at land crossings.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ontario is asking Ottawa to suspend the arrival of international students. Trudeau says Ontario is the only province making such a request, and Ottawa will reach out to work “more narrowly” with Ontario on the issue.

Quebec is reporting 1,041 new COVID-19 cases today and 13 more deaths. Hospitalizations dropped by 31 to 592, while the number of patients in intensive care declined by one to 164.

Ontario is reporting 3,887 new cases and 21 new deaths. The Ministry of Health says 2,201 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 883 are in intensive care, and 632 are on a ventilator.

Nunavut is reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19 today, all in the capital city of Iqaluit. The territory is also reporting five new recoveries, bringing its total active case count to 61. Health officials say the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom is the only strain of the virus in the territory.

Nova Scotia is reporting 67 new cases of COVID-19 today and a total of 589 active infections.


Friday

Banff, Fort McMurray await details before deciding on COVID-19 curfews

Banff Avenue was photographed on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. The central downtown area of Banff has mandatory mask bylaw indoors and outside.
Banff Avenue was photographed on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. The central downtown area of Banff has mandatory mask bylaw indoors and outside. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

COVID-19 hot spots in a Rocky Mountain tourist town and northeastern Alberta’s oilsands hub want more details from the provincial government before deciding to request curfews.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced late yesterday that curfews could be imposed in municipalities where the virus case rate exceeds 1,000 per 100,000 people and if the local governments ask for one.

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The Town of Banff, with a case rate above 1,100, says it’s seeking clarification from the province and evaluating whether a curfew would be useful.

Read more.


Thursday

Kenney announces ‘targeted’ restrictions, which could include curfews

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

Just as Alberta set a new daily COVID-19 case count record, the UCP government on Thursday announced tighter restrictions for the most populous parts of the province that could include curfews.

In the past 24 hours, the province recorded 2,048 new cases of the deadly virus, exceeding the previous record of 1,873 set on Dec. 4 of last year while also tying the previous high figure for ICU patients, at 151.

Restrictions include a shift to online learning for all junior and senior high school students (a restriction already in place in Calgary) and suspension of all indoor fitness.

Communities where these restrictions would apply are: Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Calgary, Airdrie, Strathcona County, Lethbridge and Edmonton.

In addition, a curfew could be implemented in communities where case rates rise above 1,000 per 100,000 population and active cases are above 250. The municipality would also have to ask for the curfew. Currently, only the RM of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, meets that threshold.

Read more.


Thursday

Nenshi warns Calgary is ‘staring down the barrel’ in latest COVID wave

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi updates on the COVID-19 situation in Calgary on April 29, 2021.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi updates on the COVID-19 situation in Calgary on April 29, 2021. Photo by Screengrab/City of Calgary

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Thursday that Calgary is “staring down the barrel” as the third wave of COVID-19 hits the city hard, and he urged people to maintain vigilance around public health measures.

“You might say, ‘Well, the problem in places like India is that the health-care system has collapsed.’ And I don’t want to scare people, but I want to tell you that when the health-care system collapses, it collapses fast.”

Nenshi said people must continue to wear masks, wash and sanitize their hands regularly, maintain physical distance from others in public and stay home if they’re sick. It’s also critical, he said, to get vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible.

Read more.

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