COVID-19 Update: Kenney to join Hinshaw at 4:30 p.m. | Tam says feds are monitoring P.1 variant clusters

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.



Kenney to join Hinshaw at 4:30 p.m. COVID-19 update

Premier Jason Kenney speaks at the daily COVID-19 update with Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, on March 13, 2020.
Premier Jason Kenney speaks at the daily COVID-19 update with Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, on March 13, 2020. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

Premier Jason Kenney will join Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw at her 4:30 p.m. press conference today.

The press conference was originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m. before being moved back an hour.

On Thursday last week, Kenney said that the province wouldn’t introduce restrictions to fight the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch this page for a livestream of the press conference.


Canmore Folk Festival cancelled for 2021

There won’t be an in-person Canmore Folk Festival for the second year in a row, the festival announced on Tuesday.

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Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, “there’s still too much uncertainty and risk for us to plan a full in-person event,” the festival said in a post on its website.

The festival had planned to run July 31 to Aug. 2 this summer, instead, the festival will look to make plans “to be active in our community in a way that’s safe and meaningful.”

The in-person festival was also cancelled in 2020, but the festival ran a virtual event from Aug. 1-3, 2020.


Bow Cycle temporarily closes ‘due to COVID concerns’

Bow Cycle is temporarily closing ‘due to COVID concerns,’ the store announced on social media Tuesday.

“Due to COVID concerns, we will be closed for the next few days to find out our next steps,” read a tweet from Bow Cycle. “Stay tune (sic) for more information.”

The store said that the webstore is still running, but pickups will be delayed.


‘Extremely frustrating’: Edson mayor raises concerns after not being told about COVID-19 variant outbreak in community

Shauna Mondin, nursing student, gives COVID-19 rapid tests at Bow View manor in Calgary, Alberta on March 1, 2021.
Shauna Mondin, nursing student, gives COVID-19 rapid tests at Bow View manor in Calgary, Alberta on March 1, 2021. Photo by Leah Hennel /Leah Hennel

Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara said he should have been told over the long weekend that the outbreak was in his community.

“Of course, we saw that tweet that came out on Saturday, not everybody’s on Twitter, I found that really concerning that tweet was sent out saying, Oh, we have a serious situation, but we’re not going to provide you with any details,” said Zahara Tuesday. “Three days after the fact and I’m learning about this in the media was extremely frustrating.”

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Corbella: Are the delays of second shots endangering cancer patients and creating COVID variants?

Richard Cross sits on the steps of his house in Cranston in Calgary on Monday, April 5, 2021. Cross received his first COVID-19 vaccine about three weeks ago and is worried about the delayed second dose.
Richard Cross sits on the steps of his house in Cranston in Calgary on Monday, April 5, 2021. Cross received his first COVID-19 vaccine about three weeks ago and is worried about the delayed second dose. Photo by Dre Kwong/Postmedia

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Columnist Licia Corbella writes:

The unscientific decision by numerous health authorities across the country to turn their populations into a massive drug trial and medical experiment is adding stress to already suffering cancer patients and elderly people.

Evidence is growing that extending the interval between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations is risking the health of vulnerable Canadians — particularly people with cancer.

Read more.


The latest on COVID-19 from across Canada

A COVID-19 immunization clinic opens inside the East York Town Centre on Saturday, April 3, 2021.
A COVID-19 immunization clinic opens inside the East York Town Centre on Saturday, April 3, 2021. Photo by Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford says his government will be implementing further public health restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Ford says the situation with variants of concern of the virus is changing day to day and people are not following a request to stay at home. Ontario reports 3,065 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths linked to the virus.

Manitoba health officials are announcing 62 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths from the virus. Screening has also found five additional cases that are variants of concern.

New Brunswick is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the Saint John, Fredericton and Edmundston regions each have one case.

Quebec is reporting 1,168 new cases of COVID-19 today and four additional deaths, including one within the previous 24 hours. The provincial Health Department says hospitalizations rose by 11 to reach 514, with 121 patients in intensive care, a drop of two.

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Nova Scotia is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today and a total of 36 active cases. Five cases have been identified in the Halifax area with one related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada, three close contacts of a previously reported case, and one case under investigation.


Phase 2B expands eligibility by 10 years

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WHO says AstraZeneca benefits outweigh risks; assessing latest data

A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Jack Boland/Postmedia

The World Health Organization expects there will be no reason to change its assessment that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 outweigh any risks, its regulatory director said on Tuesday.

The WHO is closely studying the latest data alongside European and other regulators, in light of reports of blood clots among people who have been vaccinated, said Rogerio Gaspar, WHO director of regulation and prequalification.

A senior official at Europe’s medicines regulator has said there is a clear “association” between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots in the brain, though the direct cause of the clots is still unknown.

Read more.


Tam says vaccine effectiveness against P.1 variant unclear

Chief public health officer Theresa Tam prepares to give a COVID-19 briefing in Ottawa on Jan. 15, 2021.
Chief public health officer Theresa Tam prepares to give a COVID-19 briefing in Ottawa on Jan. 15, 2021. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Speaking to reporters this morning, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the federal government is closely watching outbreaks of the P.1 variant in B.C and Alberta.

She said health officials are still lacking data on how well vaccines will combat this particular variant.

“We don’t have enough information from other countries, including Brazil, on how well these vaccines work against P.1,” said Tam.

She said some laboratory antibody studies have shown reduced ability of the antibody from someone who had been vaccinated to neutralize the virus. Tam called these results a “signal of concern.”

As of now, there is no vaccine effectiveness estimate in regards to the P.1 variant. Tam also said Canada could end up producing some of the data that shows just how effective vaccines are against P.1.

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“I think the message is P.1. or other variants could infect younger populations and could cause severe illness, so do not be complacent,” said Tam.


Clear link between AstraZeneca and rare blood clots in brain, EMA vaccine chief says

A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Madrid on March 24, 2021.
A health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Madrid on March 24, 2021. Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS /AFP via Getty Images

There is a link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots in the brain but the possible causes are still unknown, a senior official for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in an interview published on Tuesday.

“In my opinion we can now say it, it is clear that there is an association with the vaccine. However, we still do not know what causes this reaction,” Marco Cavaleri, chair of the vaccine evaluation team at the EMA, told Italian daily Il Messaggero when asked about the possible relation between the AstraZeneca shot and cases of brain blood clots.

Cavaleri added that the EMA would say there is a link although the regulator would not likely be in a position this week to give an indication regarding the age of individuals to whom the AstraZeneca shot should be given.

He did not provide evidence to support his comments.

AstraZeneca was not immediately available for comment. It has said previously its studies have found no higher risk of clots because of the vaccine.

Read more.


Biden to speed up eligibility for vaccine as U.S. hits milestone

US President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 16, 2021.
US President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 16, 2021. Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden will announce on Tuesday that the U.S. delivered 150 million vaccines since he took office and move up by nearly two weeks a deadline to make doses widely available, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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Biden will direct states to widen distribution of vaccines to all eligible American adults by April 19, two weeks earlier than the May 1 deadline he announced before.

On Tuesday, the president is scheduled to tour a vaccination site at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, before making the announcement at the White House.

The federal government has significantly ramped up the pace of vaccination as it works to end the COVID-19 pandemic. States with limited vaccine supply initially limited early doses to higher-risk groups, such as the elderly.

Read more.


Backlash and reversal after CDC director says vaccinated people cannot spread COVID-19

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks to the press after visiting the Hynes Convention Center FEMA Mass Vaccination Site on March 30, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks to the press after visiting the Hynes Convention Center FEMA Mass Vaccination Site on March 30, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Erin Clark-Pool /Getty Images

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has disagreed with the agency’s director, Rochelle Walensky, who asserted that people vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t spread the infection.

“Dr. Walensky spoke broadly,” a CDC spokesperson told the New York Times. “It’s possible that some people who are fully vaccinated could get COVID-19. The evidence isn’t clear whether they can spread the virus to others.”

Walensky made her comments based on a CDC study released last week. The study conducted nose swab tests on health care workers, emergency crews, and frontline workers every week for 13 weeks. It found vaccines were 90 per cent effective against SARS-CoV-2 two weeks after the second dose.

“Our data from the CDC today suggests, you know, that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick,” Walensky said on MSNBC last weekend, adding “that is not just in the clinical trials, but it’s also in real world data.”

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Monday

Variant outbreak declared at Calgary workplace as Alberta reports 432 new variant cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

An outbreak of the P.1 variant that was first identified in Brazil has been declared at a workplace in the Calgary zone, as variant cases continue to spread in Alberta.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, did not disclose the location of the workplace outbreak on Monday but said it had been linked to five cases of COVID-19, including one confirmed case of the highly contagious P.1 strain. This is one of two concerning outbreaks of the P.1 variant reported by Hinshaw.

Read more.


Monday

Braid: Erratic enforcement breeds growing sense of unfairness over COVID-19 measures

Artur Pawlowski, the pastor of Calgary’s Street Church speaks to members of the church as attendees of a Protest Against Racism and members of the Street Church clash while police keep both group separated at Olympic Plaza. Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Artur Pawlowski, the pastor of Calgary’s Street Church speaks to members of the church as attendees of a Protest Against Racism and members of the Street Church clash while police keep both group separated at Olympic Plaza. Sunday, April 4, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Columnist Don Braid writes:

The tension between those who refuse to comply and those who obey gets more intense by the day.

Some people who run personal service businesses resent restaurants and bars which often seem to be operating at full steam, with only loose adherence to restrictions.

On Saturday, the pubs along 17th Ave. SW were bursting with happy deck drinkers, people having a fine time outdoors for the first time in months.

But while some bars and restaurants don’t comply with the rules, most do. That does not immunize them from commercial upheaval. With the spread of more transmissible variant strains, they are more vulnerable than ever.

Read more.


Monday

Two Calgary bars close after positive cases in staff

A sign on the door of Comery Block Barbecue on 17th S.W. lets customers know it has closed until further notice following several COVID-19 cases among staff members. The restaurant was photographed on Monday, April 5, 2021.
A sign on the door of Comery Block Barbecue on 17th S.W. lets customers know it has closed until further notice following several COVID-19 cases among staff members. The restaurant was photographed on Monday, April 5, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Two Calgary bars have announced temporary closures on social media after staff members tested positive for COVID-19, while a third announced one of its customers tested positive.

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Comery Block Barbecue, located at 638 17 Ave. S.W., announced on Saturday in a Facebook post that it would be closing until further notice after “a few staff members” tested positive. The staff last worked at the bar on March 31, according to the post.

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The Unicorn, located at 228 8 Ave. S.W., announced on Instagram on Saturday it was temporary closing after a staff member tested positive. That employee last worked at the bar on March 27.

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Meanwhile, the Ship & Anchor, located at 534 17 Ave. S.W., said it was remaining open after a customer reported testing positive for the virus. The customer was at the bar on March 30, but sat by themselves at the bar and was there for “less than an hour,” according to a tweet from the bar on Sunday.

“We have spoken with AHS,” the Ship said on Twitter. “Due to procedures we have in place, along with the fact the customer was here for a short span, AHS do not consider fellow patrons or staff members present at this time as “close contacts” and therefore are not concerned about transmission to the general public.”

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Monday

P.1 variant outbreak at PTW Energy Services

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. Photo by Chris Schwarz /Government of Alberta

An outbreak of the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil started with a traveller returning to Alberta from out of province and has been traced to three worksites, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday.

Postmedia obtained a letter sent by Alberta Health Services on Saturday confirming the outbreak occurred at PTW Energy Services.

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The letter states health officials are investigating cases from March 20 to present day, and recommends that all employees who have been at the office or on-site at the Edson, Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie and Calgary locations get tested for COVID-19 even if they do not have symptoms.

Read more.



Monday

‘Can’t wait any further’: Notley calls on province for more COVID-19 restrictions as variants spike

Rachel Notley, leader of the Alberta NDP, speaks at a press conference in Calgary on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
Rachel Notley, leader of the Alberta NDP, speaks at a press conference in Calgary on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Photo by Dre Kwong/Postmedia

In not imposing tighter restrictions as COVID-19 variant cases surge, Premier Jason Kenney is playing politics and recklessly putting Albertans’ lives in jeopardy, NDP leader Rachel Notley said Monday.

Noting Kenney himself warned last Thursday of the variants’ rapid rate of reproduction while only urging Albertans’ restraint over the Easter long weekend, Notley said the premier was abdicating his responsibility.

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“The rate of growth is exploding exactly as has been predicted… Contrary to his assertions that he has no modelling, he actually revealed a bit of the modelling and told us that he absolutely anticipates that under the current set of rules we’re going to have 1,000 people in the hospital,” said Notley.

“Those are people who are very, very sick, potentially permanently ill, people who may die and yet not a single action was taken by this premier rather he just hectored Albertans that it’s all up to them.”

Read more.


Monday

Coalition demands improved school ventilation as variants rise

Empty classroom at an Edmonton school. File photo.
Empty classroom at an Edmonton school. File photo. Postmedia, file

With COVID variants reaching record levels this week, parents and doctors are advocating for improved ventilation in schools as a simple and effective way to reduce spread of new, highly-contagious strains.

While school boards and Alberta Health have confirmed there are no new recommendations to improve ventilation, the Coalition for Safer Schools Relaunch wants the province to help schools with portable air-cleaning devices like those supported in documentation from Alberta Health Services last fall.

Read more.


Monday

Graphic illustrates how one variant case spread to 42 people

A graphic posted on the government of Alberta’s website details the chain of transmission of one variant case.

The initial case was in an infected traveller who instead of quarantining for 14 days following a trip outside of the country socialized with a friend. The friend then passed it on to multiple people before showing symptoms.

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In all, the chain of transmission connected 42 people over the span of a month, according to information discovered by contact tracers.

Infographic by Alberta Health shows how one traveller infected with a COVID-19 variant led to an outbreak infecting 42 people.
Infographic by Alberta Health shows how one traveller infected with a COVID-19 variant led to an outbreak infecting 42 people. Photo by Alberta Health

Monday

Second annual ‘Run in Isolation’ event to raise funds for Canadian Mental Health Association

Walkers and runners enjoyed a sunny afternoon crossing the Centre Street Bridge in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
Walkers and runners enjoyed a sunny afternoon crossing the Centre Street Bridge in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

A growing group of runners looking to burn off some steam will be raising money this spring to support mental health causes for a second time, following last year’s successful inaugural event held around the start of the pandemic.

The second annual Across the Nation Run in Isolation will take place May 15, with proceeds once again going toward the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Read more.


Monday

887 new cases, four deaths

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