Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Sept. 5

Calgary·THE LATEST

The Alberta government is going to pay people $100 to get a first or second dose of vaccine against COVID-19, Premier Jason Kenney announced Friday as he implored those who still haven’t had the shots: “For the love of God, please get vaccinated now.”

Masks are now mandatory for all indoor public spaces and workplaces in Alberta

A mobile vaccination clinic makes a stop outside of the University of Calgary, to give students more access to the shot before fall semester begins. (CBC)

The latest on restrictions and reopenings:

  • The provincial government announced Friday that because of rising COVID-19 infection numbers and hospitalizations, it is introducing new, temporary restrictions and rules.
  • As of Sept. 4 at 8 a.m., masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces.
  • Schools will not be required to implement masking. School boards can continue to set COVID-19 management policies as they deem appropriate.
  • Also, as of Sept. 4, restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs, nightclubs and other licensed establishments will be required to end alcohol service at 10 p.m.
  • The province is also strongly recommending that unvaccinated Albertans limit their indoor social gatherings to close contacts of only two cohort families up to a maximum of 10 people.
  • “This is essentially now a crisis of the unvaccinated,” Premier Jason Kenney said at the Friday news conference.
  • Employers are being encouraged to pause their plans to have staff return to work and instead continue with work-from-home measures.
  • If employees are working on location, employees must mask for all indoor settings, except in work stations or where two-metre physical distancing or adequate physical barriers are in place.
  • Calgary reinstated a state of local emergency and passed a municipal mask bylaw on Friday.

WATCH: Premier Jason Kenney speaks about the new restrictions:

Large number of unvaccinated Albertans causing severe problems, says premier

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The delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading quickly in Alberta and causing an increase in severe illness, primarily among the unvaccinated, says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. 1:08

  • The province also said Friday that the rise in COVID-19 cases and the demand it’s putting on hospital resources means AHS must act to free up additional ICU capacity.
  • AHS is postponing scheduled surgeries and procedures across all zones. All patients who are affected will be contacted directly by AHS. 
    • In the North Zone, surgical postponements of up to 60 per cent are expected next week.  
    • In the Edmonton Zone, postponements of scheduled surgeries and procedures will increase to up to 50 per cent.  
    • Central Zone will be postponing up to 40 per cent of endoscopy procedures and up to 30 per cent of scheduled surgeries.
    • Calgary Zone and South Zone are postponing up to 30 per cent of scheduled surgeries, endoscopy and outpatient visits. 
  • Urgent and emergent procedures, as well as prioritized cancer surgeries, will not be affected.
  • The City of Calgary said Friday that it will require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  •  The City of Calgary is also postponing mandatory return to work for city employees until Oct. 20.
  • The Alberta University of the Arts has announced most of its classes are moving online for the first two weeks of school, because of delays in getting a rapid testing program off the ground. President Daniel Doz said the move is temporary, and the Calgary university has every intention of bringing all classes back in person. But starting Sept. 8, for two weeks, all but a few dozen classes will be online
  • The Calgary Catholic School District says even though Alberta Health Services has ceased notifying schools when there is a positive case in their building and doing contact tracing, the board will continue to notify families of positive cases when they’re aware of them.
  • Families with kids enrolled at schools run by the Calgary Board of Education, on the other hand, will not get the same kind of notifications.
  • The Calgary Board of Education announced Thursday it was reopening registration for its online learning option because of the continued uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic. The school board originally closed registration for CBe-learn on April 23 and didn’t plan to allow further registrations.
  • The Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District announced earlier in August that masks would need to be worn by K-12 students and staff at the beginning of the school year.
  • Edmonton Public Schools requires all staff and students to wear masks while indoors. At Edmonton Catholic Schools, masks are required at all times for all students and staff, including during classes. 
  • Both Edmonton school districts intend to work with Alberta Health Services to offer pop-up vaccination clinics for older students.
  • As of Aug. 30, students and staff at Calgary’s Mount Royal University will be required to wear masks in all indoor spaces on campus, including classrooms, labs, hallways and meeting/study rooms.
  • MRU is working out details for a frequent rapid testing program for students who have not declared they are fully vaccinated.
  • At the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge, anyone not fully vaccinated will have to undergo regular rapid testing as of Sept. 1. Edmonton’s MacEwan University is also planning to implement rapid testing for students who are not vaccinated.
  • The four schools are also requiring mask-wearing in public indoor areas where physical distancing is not possible.
  • At Calgary’s SAIT campus, and Edmonton’s NAIT campus, as well as at  Concordia University of Edmonton, masks are required for all indoor spaces effective Aug. 23. Bow Valley College will require masks indoors as of Aug. 19.

The latest on vaccines:

  • The province announced Friday that Albertans will be given $100 to get a first or second dose of vaccine against COVID-19. The $100 incentive will be a debit card available starting Friday for people who register for it online. It will be available until Oct. 14.
  • “For the love of God, please get vaccinated now,” said Premier Kenney on Friday.
  • The province says as of Sept. 3, 70.2 per cent of eligible Albertans have received both doses of vaccine against COVID and 78.3 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose.
  • Those are still the lowest numbers in the country. Canada-wide, 76.8 per cent of those ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated and 84.1 per cent of those eligible have received at least one dose as of Sept. 3, according to the CBC’s vaccine tracker.
  • Alberta Health Services announced Tuesday it would require all employees and contracted health-care providers — including physicians — to be fully vaccinated.
  • The policy applies to AHS, Alberta Precision Labs, Carewest, CapitalCare and Covenant Health workers, members of medical and midwifery staffs, students, volunteers and anyone acting on their behalf. The latest an individual must receive their second dose is Oct. 16. 
  • The Alberta government is making a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine available for immunocompromised Albertans and for all seniors living in congregate care facilities.
  • The shots will be available starting Wednesday. A news release from the province says receiving a third dose will boost immunity levels for these people.
  • In addition, mRNA doses — that’s Pfizer or Moderna — will be made available to Albertans travelling to a jurisdiction that does not accept visitors vaccinated with AstraZeneca, Covishield, or mixed doses.
  • Alberta feed stores are receiving a deluge of callers asking to buy ivermectin because of misinformation that suggests the livestock dewormer can be used to treat COVID-19 in humans.
    • Different forms of ivermectin are used to treat parasites, such as intestinal worms or lice, in both animals and humans. But the livestock form of the drug should never be used on humans, and parasites are not the same as viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a virus. 
    • The largest study in favour of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment was retracted after concerns about data fabrication, plagiarism and ethical breaches. No clinical studies have proven whether ivermectin can slow or stop the novel coronavirus from growing in human cells.

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • No new numbers will be released by the province this weekend.
  • Alberta reported 1,401 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, out of 12,551 tests.
  • The positivity rate was 11.3 per cent. 
  • The province is leading the country in daily new COVID cases and active cases. 
  • There were 13,495 active cases across Alberta — an increase of 627 from the previous data update.
  • Ontario, a province with about three times more people than Alberta, has 6,094 cases.
  • There were 515 people being treated in hospital, 118 of whom were in intensive care beds.
  • Two more deaths were reported, bringing Alberta’s total to 2,390 deaths.
  • The R-value, which represents the average number of people infected by each infected person, was 1.19 (with a confidence interval of 1.16-1.23) for Aug. 16-22.
  • 241,100 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.
  • New COVID-19 cases in Alberta could climb to 6,000 per day by the beginning of October, according to new virus modelling from a non-government group. 
  • That projection is part of an ongoing series of reports from the B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group — a project run by various academics working in epidemiology, mathematics and data analysis. 
  • Their latest report, released Wednesday, warns that with the current relaxed health restrictions and stagnating vaccination rates, the delta-driven fourth wave could result in more than 6,000 new cases every day in about a month, with more than 1,500 hospitalizations and approaching 500 people in ICU. 

See which regions are being hit hardest:

Here is the detailed regional breakdown of active cases as reported by the province on Friday.

  • Calgary zone: 3,803.
  • Edmonton zone: 3,998.
  • South zone: 1,398.
  • North zone: 2,563.
  • Central zone: 1,712.
  • Unknown: 21.

The latest on hospital outbreaks:

The province says that as of Aug. 31 there are COVID-19 outbreaks at nine AHS and Covenant Health acute care facilities:

  • North Zone
    • Redwater Health Centre.
  • Edmonton Zone:
    • Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
  • South Zone:
    • Medicine Hat Regional Hospital.
    • Chinook Regional Hospital.
    • Cardston Health Centre.
    • Crowsnest Pass Health Centre. 
  • Calgary Zone:
    • Peter Lougheed Centre.
    • Foothills Medical Centre.
    • Rockyview General Hospital.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

With files from The Canadian Press

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