COVID-19 Update: ‘Targeted’ restrictions announced | Curfews possible if municipalities ask for them | Nenshi warns things are bad for 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 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.



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.

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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.

The mayor excoriated protesters who have been gathering for months in violation of health restrictions, including recently holding events in front of city hall and at Prince’s Island Park.

“I know it’s frustrating when you see those maskless idiots and their protests,” Nenshi said.

“There are people who just want to come to Prince’s Island on a sunny Saturday afternoon when the weather is nice. There are shopkeepers on Stephen Avenue that have been forced to close their shops while these guys are marauding down the streets.”

Calgary has an active case rate of more than 500 per 100,000 population, which Nenshi pointed out is worse than the current rate in India. In that country, the pandemic has overwhelmed the health-care system.

“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.

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Thursday

Much ‘enthusiasm’ as vaccines roll out for workers at Alberta meat-packing plants

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

Nearly 300 workers at the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River shuffled through the onsite vaccination clinic Thursday morning, receiving their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Mass vaccination clinics opened at Cargill and the JBS plant in Brooks on Thursday in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among workers. Staff at meat-packing facilities have been some of the hardest-hit essential workers by outbreaks, so the opening of these clinics has brought much excitement, Calgary physician Dr. Annalee Coakley said.

“This is protection for their health and protection for their families, but it’s also protection for their economic well-being. Over the past year, for all of our essential workers, it’s been incredibly difficult financially,” said Coakley, who is assisting in the clinic.

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Thursday

New COVID-19 testing site opening in northeast

ATCO trailers are readied at a COVID-19 testing site at the McKnight-Westwinds CTrain parking lot, which opens on Friday.
ATCO trailers are readied at a COVID-19 testing site at the McKnight-Westwinds CTrain parking lot, which opens on Friday. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Alberta Health Services will be opening a new temporary testing site in northeast Calgary.

The site, which will be located at the McKnight Westwinds Park & Ride parking lot at 6200 36th St. N.E., will open on Friday. It will be open for booked appointments online or through 811 and is expected to be able to complete 2,000 tests per day when its operating at full capacity.


Thursday

GYMVMT to file for bankruptcy as COVID-19 restrictions continue for fitness sector

Pictured is GYMVMT Fitness Club in Edgemont on Saturday, April 4, 2020.
Pictured is GYMVMT Fitness Club in Edgemont on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

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The Calgary-based GYMVMT fitness chain will close multiple locations as part of a restructuring effort aimed at saving the business in the face of COVID-19 restrictions.

International Fitness Holdings Inc. — which operates 21 fitness centres in Calgary and Edmonton under the names GYMVMT, HER GYMVMT, Bankers Hall Club and ClubFit — filed a notice of intention last week to file a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

On its website, the company said a year’s worth of public health restrictions and COVID-19 guidelines affecting the fitness industry have left the business struggling to stay above water. IFH’s fitness clubs have been closed for half of the last 14 months, and during the months the clubs have been opened, they have operated with strict capacity restrictions.

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Thursday

Province expands Phase 2 of vaccine rollout to another 650,000 Albertans

People line up for vaccines outside the Telus Convention Centre in downtown Calgary on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
People line up for vaccines outside the Telus Convention Centre in downtown Calgary on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Starting April 30, 650,000 Albertans will be eligible to receive a COVID vaccine as the province expands eligibility to the rest of the 2C and 2D.

“By opening up the rest of Phase 2C, as well as Phase 2D, we are now able to offer vaccines to another half a million Albertans. Every day, we are protecting more vulnerable Albertans. Soon, we will be able to go on to protect all adult Albertans in Phase 3, as long as we receive the vaccine supply we’ve been promised. We will continue to work to give a vaccine to all Albertans who want one,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

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In a press release, the province said the following groups can begin booking appointments at participating pharmacies or Alberta Health Services clinics on Friday:

  • Staff and residents who provide care or support to Albertans in facilities previously not offered immunization, including front-line disability workers and workers in group homes, mental health or addiction treatment, children and youth group care, and campus-based care like secure services and other types of licensed supportive living.
  • Caregivers of Albertans who are most at risk of severe outcomes, including:
    • Designated family support people of those individuals in long-term care, designated supportive living and licensed supportive living facilities.
    • Household contacts and caregivers to those who have profoundly immunocompromised conditions.
    • Parents or guardians of children under 12 who have an eligible chronic condition (Phase 2B) but are unable to receive vaccine due to age.
  • Front-line policing and provincial sheriffs who interact with residents at shelters, correctional facilities and remand centres, Canadian Border Security Agency staff and firefighters.
  • Albertans between the ages of 50 and 64.
  • First Nations, Métis and Inuit between the ages of 35 and 49.

Thursday

Ontario marks grim pandemic milestone after logging over 8,000 deaths since start of pandemic

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility in Mississauga, Ont., on Nov. 19, 2020.
Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility in Mississauga, Ont., on Nov. 19, 2020. Photo by Nathan Denette /The Canadian Press

Ontario marked a grim COVID-19 milestone Thursday as its virus-related death toll passed 8,000 and provincial health leaders sped up plans that could get more Canadians vaccinated in the coming months.

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“The way out of the pandemic is vaccines, and the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter every day,” said Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.

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Thursday

Pediatricians say tighter restrictions needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed

Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, on Friday October 12, 2018. A group of Alberta pediatricians are calling on the government to bring in tighter restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, on Friday October 12, 2018. A group of Alberta pediatricians are calling on the government to bring in tighter restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Leah Hennel /Postmedia

A group of Alberta pediatricians have penned a letter to Premier Jason Kenney asking him to take action to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients.

The executive members of the Alberta Medical Association’s (AMA) Section of Pediatrics are asking for strong, mandatory measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 and newer, more-transmissible variants of concern.

The new variants, particularly the B.1.1.7 variant, can cause more severe disease and higher mortality rates in younger populations, according to the doctors.

“As pediatricians, we are particularly concerned about the impact of high community transmission on children and families,” said Dr. Michelle Bailey, President of the AMA’s Section of Pediatrics.

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Thursday

Alberta teen, 17, who died after testing negative for COVID, may have contracted a variant: Father

Sarah Strate is shown in this family handout image. Ron Strate says he has received about a thousand messages from people in Canada and around the world who have been touched by the story of his 17-year-old daughter Sarah.
Sarah Strate is shown in this family handout image. Ron Strate says he has received about a thousand messages from people in Canada and around the world who have been touched by the story of his 17-year-old daughter Sarah. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

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Ron Strate says he has received about a thousand messages from people in Canada and around the world who have been touched by the story of his 17-year-old daughter, Sarah.

The senior high school student from Magrath, a small southern Alberta town, had seemed fine before her health suddenly deteriorated Monday, said her father.

She died soon after arriving at hospital.

Officials have not confirmed Sarah died of COVID-19. But as cases continue to surge in Alberta — currently the province with the highest rate of new daily infections in the country — Strate said he is convinced she died because of a variant of the virus.

“It’s always just been numbers until you can put a face to it … Now one is my daughter,” Strate, a school teacher, said Wednesday.

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Thursday

Moderna boosting COVID-19 vaccine-making capacity, targets up to 3 billion shots in 2022

Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto.
Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto. Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images files

Moderna Inc said on Thursday it is boosting manufacturing capacity for its COVID-19 vaccine and expects to make up to 3 billion doses in 2022, more than twice its previous forecast.

It also said it is increasing its expectations for 2021 vaccine production to between 800 million and 1 billion shots, raising the bottom of its range from 700 million.

The final number of inoculations will depend on how many are lower-dose formulations for boosters and immunizations for children. Moderna shots currently deploy 100 micrograms of vaccine substance but some future shots may use only 50 micrograms.

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