Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Wednesday, Oct. 6

Calgary·THE LATEST

Canadian military nurses will begin work at an Edmonton hospital today to help alleviate pressure on a critical care unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital overburdened with COVID-19 patients. Alberta reported 663 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday.

Military begins COVID-19 work at Edmonton hospital

Health-care workers put on protective equipment at a COVID-19 testing facility in Alberta. There are 1,094 people being treated for COVID in hospital, 252 of whom were in intensive care beds as of Oct. 5. (Alberta Health Services)

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported 663 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
  • There are 19,456 active cases across Alberta.
  • Alberta reported 26 more deaths from COVID on Tuesday. 
  • A total of 2,778  Albertans have died of COVID. 
  • The positivity rate was 8.8 per cent.
  • The province continues to lead the country by a wide margin in daily new COVID cases and active cases. 
  • There were 1,094 people being treated for COVID in hospital, 252 of whom were in intensive care beds. There was a total of 252 patients in ICU beds across the province. That’s down three per cent from a week ago.
  • There are currently 374 ICU beds open in Alberta, including 201 additional surge spaces (a 116 per cent increase over a baseline of 173).
  • AHS opened five additional ICU surge spaces in the past seven days.
  • Provincially, ICU capacity is at 81 per cent, including additional surge beds. Without the additional spaces, provincial ICU admissions would be at 175 per cent of capacity, AHS said.
  • For the first time in months, Alberta is reporting an R-value below 1. The R-value is the average number of COVID-19 infections transmitted by each diagnosed case.
  • An R-value below 1 means transmission is no longer growing. Province-wide, the R-value for Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 is 0.92, with a confidence interval between 0.90 and 0.94. In Edmonton zone, the R-value is 0.86 (0.83-0.90 confidence interval), while in Calgary zone it’s 0.93 (0.92 to 0.97). The rest of Alberta is 0.94 (0.92-0.97 confidence interval). 
  • 282,268 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.​​​​
  • Alberta Health Services said Sept. 17 that the only surgeries happening in the province are those that must be done within a three-day window.

WATCH | ICU stay changes Calgary man’s mind about COVID vaccine:

ICU stay changes Calgary man’s mind about COVID vaccine

8 days ago

Bernie Cook was hesitant to get the vaccine when he caught COVID. His sickness gave him first-hand experience through one of Alberta’s crowded ICUs. Now he’s warning others to take action to avoid the same fate. 2:23

The latest on Alberta’s COVID-19 response: ​​​​​​

  • The province announced new measures to protect children and youth from COVID-19 on Tuesday. Contact tracing in schools will be phased in, outbreaks will be declared in schools, and rapid-test kits will be made available for parents to test younger children.
  • The Calgary Board of Education will now require mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 for employees, volunteers and partners.
  • Politicians and staff at the Alberta Legislature will all be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the time the sitting resumes on Oct. 25, government House leader Jason Nixon said Tuesday.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces is preparing to send up to eight critical care nurses to help in Alberta’s intensive care units. Where and how the nurses will be implemented still needs to be confirmed.
  • The Canadian Red Cross plans to dispatch up to 20 medical professionals, some with ICU experience, to Alberta. The organization and Alberta Health Services are finalizing where to deploy the personnel, but premier Jason Kenney said on Sept. 30 they would help the Red Deer Regional Hospital.
  • The Alberta government has rolled out a watermarked vaccine passport and QR codes, although the latter cannot be used without an app that is set to come in a few weeks
  • Kenney also said public sector workers will soon be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • The policy, approved by the province’s COVID-19 cabinet committee will affect 25,500 provincial employees who must all submit proof of full vaccination by Nov. 30.
  • Employees can be exempted if they obtain an accommodation based on the Alberta Human Rights Act or if they choose to produce a negative PCR test result, obtained at employee’s expense and done within 72 hours of every scheduled workday.
  • Alberta is dealing with a COVID-19 crisis that has seen well over 1,000 new cases a day for weeks while filling intensive care wards to almost twice normal capacity.
  • Kenney also said he asked for an inventory of the Johnson and Johnson one-dose vaccine, noting that some vaccine-hesitant Albertans have expressed a willingness to take this version. The Government of Canada has committed to securing the vaccines by as early as this week, but currently have no supply.
  • Anti-vaccination protests and all other demonstrations outside hospitals will be banned in a move to make Alberta health-care facilities safer for staff, patients and families, Premier Jason Kenney said Sept. 28.
  • The province has updated its daily symptom screening checklist. It now recommends household contacts of those with COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days if they are not vaccinated, or partially vaccinated. 
  • Women delivering babies will only be able to have one support person, starting next week. AHS says it’s in an effort to manage the escalating impact of COVID-19.

WATCH | Kenney says he still has no plan to impose additional COVID-19 restrictions for the general population:

Alberta not considering additional COVID-19 measures, Kenney reiterates

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While Alberta’s public servants will need to get fully vaccinated, Premier Jason Kenney says he still has no other plans to impose additional COVID-19 restrictions for the general population. 0:43

  • Kenney’s government imposed a voluntary vaccine passport system that took effect Sept. 20 to combat the fourth wave of COVID-19.
  • Operators who are eligible for the program, but opt not to take part, will have to follow measures that include capacity limits and physical distancing (more details are provided below).
  • Albertans are now able to visit a local registry agent to request a printed version of their vaccination card at no cost. They will need to provide the month and year of any dose of vaccination, their Alberta Personal Health Number and their date of birth.
  • A QR code for proof of vaccination has been made available, but not the app to scan it — similar to the vaccine passport systems announced months ago by Quebec and weeks ago by B.C. 
  • Starting Oct. 25, proof of two doses or a negative test will be required for entry to places operating under the restrictions exemption program. Up until then, one dose or a negative test will suffice.
  • Those who want to show a negative COVID-19 test rather than a proof of vaccination must have one that was paid for privately, not via Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories.
  • It must be a Health Canada-approved rapid antigen, rapid PCR or lab-based PCR test completed within the previous 72 hours.
  • Calgary’s new bylaw, which brings in mandatory vaccine passports for many types of businesses, came into effect on Sept. 23.
  • It means people going to restaurants, bars, casinos, movie theatres and sporting events must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result to enter. Those who don’t comply can receive a $500 fine. Peace officers will be enforcing the rules.
  • The City of Lethbridge is joining Edmonton and Calgary in making it mandatory for city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. All workers must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, the city announced on Sept. 28.
  • The Calgary Airport Authority announced on Sept. 29 that it will be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy for all employees. The policy provides alternative protocols for unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated employees, such as weekly COVID-19 tests. The requirement comes into full effect on Nov. 15. 
  • The regulator for Alberta doctors is exploring ways to speed up its investigations into physicians accused of spreading misinformation or treating patients with unproven COVID-19 remedies.

How the restrictions and exemptions work:

Some of the broad strokes of the new restrictions include:

As of Sept. 16:

  • Private social gatherings:
    • Indoor private gatherings for vaccine-eligible, fully vaccinated people are limited to a single household plus one other household to a maximum of 10 people, with no restrictions on children under the age of 12.
    • Attendance at any indoor private social gathering is not permitted for vaccine-eligible individuals who are unvaccinated.
  • Workplaces:
    • Work-from-home measures are mandatory unless the employer has decided a physical presence is required for operational reasons.
  • Places of worship:
    • Must limit attendance to one-third fire code capacity.
    • Face masks will be mandatory and there must be two-metre physical distancing between households or two close contacts for those living alone.
  • Outdoor events:
    • No attendance restrictions, but two-metre physical distancing adhered to.
  • Schools (K-12):
    • Mandatory masking for students in Grades 4 and up, as well as staff and teachers in all grades. Schools that can implement an alternate COVID safety plan can be exempted from mandatory masking.
    • Elementary schools must implement class cohorting.
    • For physical activities in schools, youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain two-metre distance when engaged in physical activity.
    • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.
    • Indoor sports/performance/recreation/special interests are permitted with requirements for two-metre physical distancing, where possible.

As of Sept. 20:

  • Restaurants, nightclubs and pubs:
    • Venues that choose to implement the restrictions exemption program can operate as usual when it comes to vaccine-eligible Albertans with proof of vaccination. 
    • Otherwise:
      • Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six individuals per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone).
      • Liquor sales to end at 10 p.m. and consumption at 11 p.m. 
  • Weddings and funerals:
    • Hosting facilities that choose to implement the restrictions exemption program can operate as usual when it comes to vaccine-eligible Albertans with proof of vaccination.
    • Otherwise:
      • All indoor ceremonies and services are limited to 50 attendees or 50 per cent fire code capacity, whichever is less.
      • No indoor receptions are permitted.
      • All outdoor ceremonies and services for weddings and funerals must be limited to 200 attendees.
  • Entertainment and recreation facilities such as museums, movie theatres and casinos:
    • Hosting facilities that choose to implement the restrictions exemption program can operate as usual when it comes to vaccine-eligible Albertans with proof of vaccination.
    • Otherwise:
      • Limited to one-third fire code capacity, attendees are only permitted to attend with their household or two close contacts for those living alone.
      • People must be masked and keep two-metre physical distancing between households.
  • Adult sports, fitness and recreation:
    • Facilities that implement the restrictions exemption program can operate as usual when it comes to vaccine-eligible Albertans with proof of vaccination.
    • Otherwise:
      • No indoor group classes or activities are permitted.
      • One-on-one training or individual workouts are permitted but three-metre physical distancing is required.
      • No contact between players; no indoor competitions except where case-by-case vaccine exemptions have been granted.
  • Retail and shopping malls, places of worship, hotels and personal services are some examples of venues and businesses that are not eligible to participate in the program.
  • They must follow health restrictions that include physical distancing and capacity limits.

As of Oct. 5:

  • Outdoor private social gatherings
    • Outdoor gatherings are now limited to a maximum of 20 people, with two-metre physical distancing between households at all times. This is a decrease from previous limit of 200 people.
  • A full list of restrictions and exemptions is available on the government’s website

The latest on vaccines:

  • 63.9 per cent of the province’s total population have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or 75.1 per cent of eligible Albertans.
  • Out of the province’s total population, 71.9 per cent have received at least one dose, or 84.5 per cent of those eligible.
  • Canada-wide, 76.7 per cent of the total population have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 71.3 per cent of the total population are fully vaccinated, according to the CBC’s vaccine tracker. Among those eligible, 87.7 per cent have had one dose and 81.5 per cent are fully vaccinated. 
  • Alberta is expanding the number of immunocompromised people who are eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The full list of eligible people can be found on the province’s website
  • In addition, mRNA doses — that’s Pfizer or Moderna — are available to Albertans travelling to a jurisdiction that does not accept visitors vaccinated with mixed doses.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, says pregnant people are at high risk of very serious illness and are urging them to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. 

See which regions are being hit hardest:

Here is the latest detailed regional breakdown of active cases, as reported by the province on Tuesday:

  • Edmonton zone: 4,585.
  • Calgary zone: 4,708.
  • North zone: 3,984.
  • Central zone: 4,044.
  • South zone: 2,124.
  • Unknown: 11.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

With files from The Canadian Press

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