Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Saturday, June 25

EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout the pandemic, case counts have been based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing done by provincial bodies like Alberta Health Services, but those testing protocols have shifted to prioritize high-priority groups and people in higher risk settings. In Alberta there is no system for cataloguing at-home rapid antigen tests, meaning many people with COVID-19 aren’t reflected in the data.

As a result, CBC News will de-emphasize case counts in our coverage, in favour of data and metrics that experts now say are more illuminating — including hospitalizations and wastewater monitoring. 


The latest:

  • The province announced that the June 22 news conference would be its last regularly scheduled COVID-19 update, but data would continue to be updated online. 
  • Alberta public health officials identified 13 more COVID-19 deaths from June 14 to 20, the latest reporting week. A total of 4,604 Albertans have now died from the illness since the pandemic began.
  • As of 11:59 p.m. June 14, the Alberta government lifted the province’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions, ending mandatory masking on public transit, as well as mandatory isolation. 
  • Though not required, isolation remains recommended for those who have COVID symptoms or a positive test result.
  • Saskatchewan and Manitoba have already lifted self-isolation requirements. 
  • As of the end of the day on June 20661 people were in hospital with COVID-19, down from 719 people last week.
  • 17 people were in intensive care, down from 19 last week.
  • There were 1,086 new COVID cases reported from June 14 to June 20 out of 8,918 tests. The case count includes only those who test positive on a PCR test, which most Albertans can’t access.
  • The seven-day average PCR test positivity rate was 12.13 per cent as of June 17.

Wastewater monitoring:

The Y axis denotes the number of SARS-CoV2 RNA particles detected per millilitre of wastewater. This chart should only be interpreted as a measure of progress against itself and not used to compare with other cities or measurement sites. (Rob Easton/CBC)

The Y axis denotes the number of SARS-CoV2 RNA particles detected in each sample. The numbers show the first number multiplied by 10 to the power of the small number above. For example 2.1 x 10¹⁵ written out in full is 2,100,000,000,000,000 or 2.1 quadrillion RNA particles detected. (Rob Easton/CBC)

  • Alberta data from a dashboard created by the University of Calgary Centre for Health Informatics shows the average amount of COVID-19 detected in wastewater. The data is updated publicly three times a week on the dashboard.
  • Copping says wastewater levels in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer are well past their peaks, but continue to show high levels of virus are circulating.
  • The virus is shed in peoples’ feces before symptoms arise, so values in the data associate strongest with cases occurring six days after the samples are collected.
  • A note on reading wastewater charts: Numbers taken from different wastewater treatment facilities use different testing and collection methods. Because of this, comparisons across cities cannot be made directly and one should assess only the trends. For example, there is an upward trend in the readings in both Edmonton and Calgary, but one cannot say whether levels are higher in one city or the other.

The latest on restrictions: 

  • Nearly all pandemic public health measures were lifted in the province as of March 1, as the Alberta government launched Step 2 of its reopening plan. 
  • This phase removes indoor masking, remaining school requirements, youth screening for entertainment and sports, removal of capacity limits on all large venues and entertainment venues, limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings lifted and mandatory work from home lifted. 
  • Masking is still required in high-risk settings including Alberta Health Services-operated and contracted facilities, all continuing care settings, and on municipal transit services. The rule does not cover private services such as taxis or Uber trips.
  • As of Feb. 14, there are no masking requirements for children and youth 12 years old and younger and no masking requirements for children and youth in schools for any age.
  • Stage 1 took effect Feb. 16 and removed the restrictions exemption program
  • Premier Jason Kenney says the province is working toward a third stage, which does not have a date, where people would no longer be required to isolate if they have COVID-19, and COVID operational and outbreak protocols will be lifted in continuing care facilities. 
  • Copping said the stages are all conditions-based approaches, based on hospitalization trends. 

Vaccinations:

  • According to Alberta Health, 77.3 per cent of the province’s population — or 87.1 per cent of those older than 12 — have received two doses of a COVID vaccine.
  • As of April 12, all Albertans age 70 and older, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Alberta age 65 and older, and all seniors in congregate care can receive a fourth dose of vaccine. 
  • Albertans 12 to 17 are eligible for their third dose of COVID-19 vaccine if it has been five months since their second dose.
  • Children from six to 11 have the option of getting the Moderna vaccine as of April 12. 

Hospitalizations by region:

As of end of day on June 20, there were 661 Albertans in hospital with COVID.  

  • Calgary zone: 249.
  • Edmonton zone: 217.
  • Central zone: 87.
  • North zone: 66.
  • South zone: 42.




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