Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, Aug. 31

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The province announced it will start making a third dose of vaccine available for immunocompromised Albertans, seniors living in congregate care facilities and Albertans travelling to jurisdictions that don’t accept visitors vaccinated with AstraZeneca, Covishield, or mixed doses.

Alberta rolling out 3rd COVID-19 vaccine dose for immunocompromised, those in long-term care

There are 431 people being treated in Alberta hospitals for COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon, 106 of whom are in intensive care beds. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The latest on vaccines:

  • 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    • The largest study in favour of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment was retracted after concerns about data fabrication, plagiarism and ethical breaches.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.

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  • The province says 66.3 per cent of all Albertans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 59.4 per cent have had two doses. Of eligible Albertans (those ages 12 and up), about 69.8 per cent have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • That’s considerably lower than the national average. Canada-wide, 66.7 per cent of the total population and 76.3 per cent of those ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated. About 73.2 per cent of the total population, or 83.8 per cent of those ages 12 and older, have received at least one dose as of Aug. 31, according to the CBC’s vaccine tracker.

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Alberta reported 920 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, out of 7,487 tests. 
  • The positivity rate was 12.42 per cent, close to the highest it’s been during the entire pandemic. 
  • The province is leading the country in daily new COVID cases and active cases. 
  • There were 11,660 active cases across Alberta — an increase of 234 from the previous data update. Ontario, a province with about three times more people than Alberta, has 5,868 cases.
  • There were 431 people being treated in hospital, 106 of whom were in intensive care beds.
  • 94.2 per cent of those in ICU beds for COVID were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and 79.6 per cent of non-ICU patients were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Monday on Twitter.
  • Four more deaths were reported, bringing Alberta’s total to 2,375 deaths.
  • The R-value, which represents the number of people infected by each infected person, was 1.19 (with a confidence interval of 1.16-1.23) for Aug. 16-22.
  • 238,895 Albertans are considered to have recovered from COVID-19.
  • Alberta has now identified one case of K417N, known as the delta plus variant. 

See which regions are being hit hardest:

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

  • Calgary zone: 3,176.
  • Edmonton zone: 3,660.
  • South zone: 1,214.
  • North zone: 2,191.
  • Central zone: 1,385.
  • Unknown: 34.

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.

The latest on restrictions and reopenings:

  • The Alberta government said Aug. 13 that — due to surging COVID-19 cases and higher non-ICU hospitalizations than expected — it would hold off on its controversial move to lift more public health measures on Aug. 16 and would keep them in place six more weeks until Sept. 27, after controversially announcing in late July that quarantine for close contacts was no longer mandatory but recommended, contact tracers would no longer notify close contacts in most cases and asymptomatic testing was no longer recommended.
  • Hockey Calgary is implementing a mask requirement for all athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers, effective Aug. 27, until at least Sept. 27.
  • The  YMCA says effective Sept. 1 masks will once again be mandatory at all of its Calgary facilities. Digital health screening will also be reintroduced. 

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  • The City of Calgary is postponing mandatory return to work for city employees until Oct. 20.
  • 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 mandatory in common areas for all staff and students from Grade 4 to 12, and recommended — but not required — for all staff and students while in class. 
  • 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.

Here are the latest Alberta COVID-19 stories:

With files from The Canadian Press

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