Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday, Dec. 14 – CBC.ca

The latest:

  • Alberta reported its deadliest day of the pandemic on Sunday, with 22 more deaths for a total of 719. The previous deadliest day, with 20 deaths, was on Nov. 16. 
  • Alberta reported 1,717 new cases on Sunday, for a total of 20,562 active cases — thousands more than Ontario, at 16,204, which has more than three and a half times the population, and in Quebec, which has twice the population and reported 16,557 active cases on Sunday.
  • There were 681 people in hospital in Alberta on Sunday, including 136 in ICUs.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, is scheduled to give an update on the state of COVID-19 in Alberta at noon on Monday. She’ll also be joined by Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro as he gives an update on the province’s vaccination program. CBC News will carry that live on the CBC Edmonton and Calgary websites and on Facebook. 
  • The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are set to arrive in Canada Sunday night, setting in motion the country-wide immunization program. 
  • Alberta health-care workers on the front lines will be the first in the province to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
  • Starting this week, 3,900 doses will go to ICU doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists and long-term care workers in a bid to keep both the workers and those under their care safe. 
  • Details on the vaccine and Alberta’s plans to date can be found here
  • Sweeping new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 came into effect in Alberta on Sunday at 12 a.m., and are expected to be in place for at least four weeks:
    • Retail services and malls must now reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
    • Restaurants, pubs and bars will be closed to in-person service. Takeout, delivery and curbside pickup are still allowed. 
    • Hair salons, nail salons, casinos, bowling alleys, gyms, movie theatres, libraries and museums will be closed starting on Sunday.
    • Places of worship are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy. 
    • All employees are now required to work from home unless their employer determines they need to be at work in person. 
    • Indoor and outdoor social gatherings remain prohibited. People who live alone are limited to up to two close contacts for in-person visits. 
    • Masks are mandatory across the province in all indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home, except when working alone in an office or a safely distanced cubicle or a barrier is in place, when in rental accommodations used solely as a private residence or in farm operations. Alberta had been the only province without a mask mandate until late November.
  • A full list of the new restrictions is available on the province’s website
  • Alberta will triple its small and medium enterprise grants to $20,000, while lowering the eligibility criteria to 30 per cent of revenues lost retroactive to March.
  • At least a dozen new employee-related cases have been reported by three companies that run grocery store and pharmacy chains in Alberta — Loblaw Companies Ltd., Sobeys Inc. and Co-op — since Dec. 9. The stores are reporting cases on their websites.
  • An Alberta pilot project that tested international travellers found a low COVID-19 infection rate of 1.4 per cent.
  • As rising COVID-19 cases put pressure on Alberta’s health-care system, up to 60 per cent of Edmonton-area surgeries will be delayed and diagnostic imaging and other clinical support services will be reduced by as much as 40 per cent.
  • As of Saturday, Calgary had more than 7,200 active cases and Edmonton had more than 9,700.

What you need to know today in Alberta

Alberta saw its deadliest day of the pandemic on Sunday, with 22 new deaths reported for a total of 719. The previous deadliest day was Nov. 16, when 20 deaths were reported. 

Alberta reported 1,717 new cases on Sunday, for a total of 20,562 active cases, and a 7.9 per cent positivity rate. There are 681 people in hospital, 136 in ICUs.

Sweeping new restrictions intended to curb the surge of COVID-19 in the province took affect at 12 a.m. on Sunday. They will remain in place at least for four weeks — through Christmas and New Year’s:

  • Retail services and malls must reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
  • Restaurants, pubs and bars are closed to in-person service. Takeout, delivery and curbside pickup are allowed. 
  • Hair salons, nail salons, casinos, bowling alleys, gyms, movie theatres, libraries and museums will be closed.
  • Places of worship are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy. 
  • All employees are required to work from home unless their employer determines they need to be at work in person. 
  • A full list of new measures is available on the province’s website.

On Dec. 8, Alberta announced the new restrictions — the strictest of the entire pandemic — in an effort to slow the surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the province.

“If you gathered everyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 together, it would be the fifth largest city in Alberta,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

“Every case is a person.… We are all at risk of COVID-19, we are all impacted by the toll it is taking on our health system.”

Hinshaw said on Dec. 9 that it’s important to follow the spirit of the restrictions if a situation is unclear, rather than working to find loopholes.

“If you are unsure about what to do, please err on the side of caution and make the safest choice,” she said. 

In addition to the restrictions that came into affect on Sunday, indoor and outdoor social gatherings are also prohibited. People who live alone are limited to up to two close contacts for in-person visits. Masks are mandatory across the province in all indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home. Until November, Alberta had been the only province without a mask mandate. 

Hinshaw said the target of the new restrictions is not to reach zero COVID-19 cases, something other jurisdictions have aimed for, but to no longer have the health-care system be at risk. 

“These are decisions that we have arrived at not as a first resort but as a last resort, to protect lives and to preserve our health-care system,” Premier Jason Kenney said. 

Click on the map below to zoom in or out on specific local geographic areas in Alberta and find out more about COVID-19 there:

An Edmonton ICU doctor who has been outspoken about the pressures COVID-19 has been putting on Alberta hospitals says he expects to get the vaccine on Wednesday.

The first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine started arriving in Canada on Sunday night.

About 30,000 doses will be doled out across Canada for distribution. In Alberta, many of the first doses will go to healthcare workers.

“The general feeling is excitement. People are really looking forward to this. It brings a level of hope to the frontline workers that we were missing for a while there,” said Dr. Darren Markland in an interview with CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday. Markland is an intensive care physician and nephrologist at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. He said provincial public health staff have been contacting health-care workers to schedule vaccine appointments.

Alberta released a new ad campaign on Friday featuring a man intended to represent the COVID-19 virus at a party and at a holiday gathering.

Hinshaw said the ads were intended to urge Albertans to not socially gather over the holidays.

“Our goal is to get people’s attention, to help them see common situations from a different perspective, and as a result to influence their behaviour,” Hinshaw said at a news conference.

“The campaign uses humour because the situation is serious and we need to use every tool at our disposal to reach all Albertans.”

The number of positive COVID-19 tests in a pilot project for international travellers at the Calgary airport and a United States border crossing in southern Alberta has been reasonably low after its first six weeks.

The program offers Canadians the option of getting a test when they arrive. They must then self-isolate for 24 to 48 hours while they wait for the results.

If the results are negative, they can leave quarantine, but must monitor for symptoms daily and get a second swab within six to seven days of their arrival date.

As of Thursday, the province said 14,382 travellers had taken tests. About 1.4 per cent were positive with the initial swab. After the second test, the infection rate was 0.7 per cent.

The project is scheduled to last six months, or until 52,000 passengers have gone through the process. There are also plans to expand it next year.

Staff prepares free breakfasts at Eggs Oasis on Sunday. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

After losing a significant amount of inventory to COVID-19 restrictions, a Calgary restaurant found a way to circumvent food waste this time around.

The staff at Eggs Oasis spent their Sunday giving away 500 free pick-up breakfasts that were prepared with the excess inventory they would have lost when dine-in service came to a halt on Sunday.

And according to owner Noor Sadid, it was a means of preventing history from repeating itself — for a third time.

“The first time this COVID thing happened, it was very sad. We lost quite a significant amount of inventory,” Noor said. 

“In June, when they wanted us to reopen … in the evening of that day that we bought our inventory, they announced again that they pushed our reopening. So we lost our inventory there, as well.”

This time around, Noor had an idea.

“I said, ‘No way are we going to lose our inventory. We’re going to give back to our community who supported us for all these years.'”

Business owners and employees across Calgary are digesting the impacts of Alberta’s widespread new restrictions. Ernie Tsu, a board member with the Alberta Hospitality Association and owner of Trolley 5 pub, said the measures are a hard hit to restaurants and bars right before the holidays. 

“It’s going to be very tough for us to have to look at our staff, as we have to lay off coming around the corner here. Christmas is usually the best season for every restaurant and local pub,” Tsu said. 

Solo Diallo, co-owner of Mumbai Dakar in Edmonton, said he worries whether his restaurant will survive, but still supports the new measures.  

“We’ll just try to outlast and then we’ll see how far we can go,” he told CBC’s Edmonton AM on Wednesday. 

Alberta is expanding its small and medium business relaunch grant, to make up to 15,000 more businesses eligible for funding. Businesses can now receive 15 per cent of pre-pandemic monthly revenues up to a maximum of $15,000.

The program is also lowering its threshold from businesses who experienced 40 per cent revenue loss to 30 per cent revenue loss, retroactive to March. 

Additional business supports are available through the federal government

Here is the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Sunday: 

  • Calgary zone: 7,268, up from 7,127 reported on Saturday (24,042 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 9,778, up from 9,548 (23,884 recovered).
  • North zone: 1,289, up from 1,236 (3,968 recovered).
  • South zone: 572, down from 589 (3,889 recovered). 
  • Central zone: 1,589, up from 1,522 (2,903 recovered).
  • Unknown: 66, up from 50 (132 recovered).

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 7:45 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 460,744, with 74,060 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood a 13,431.

Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign kicked off in Ontario on Monday with the vaccination of a personal support worker in Toronto, which is still under lockdown as Ontario tries to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 464,000 Canadians.

Quebec, the hardest-hit province in the country, is expected to launch its own vaccination efforts later Monday after the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Canada Sunday.

Retired general Rick Hillier, who is leading Ontario’s vaccine task force, said the number of vaccinations that will take place in the province Monday is “probably pretty small,” but he said it’s still significant — especially for health-care workers and others who have been at the front line of the pandemic for months.

“This is V-Day,” he told CBC News Network early Monday, before the first dose was given.

Canada received its first batches of the Pfizer-BioBTech COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the planned first stage of immunizations this week. But with so few doses on hand at this stage, the initial delivery is more of a morale boost than a medical victory. 2:26

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported three additional deaths and 222 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. There were 117 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 23 in intensive care units.

Manitoba reported seven additional deaths and 273 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Health officials in the province reported 304 people in hospital, with 43 people in intensive care.

Ontario reported 1,940 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with 544 new cases in Toronto and 390 in Peel Region. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province completed nearly 57,100 tests.

The province also reported 23 additional deaths, bringing the death toll to 3,972. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario increased to 857, with 244 people in intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard

Quebec reported 1,620 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 25 additional deaths. Hospitalizations rose to 890, with 122 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.

In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Monday.

Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, while New Brunswick reported two new cases. There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island.

Across the NorthNunavut reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, all of them in Arviat.

There were no new cases reported in Yukon, or the Northwest Territories on Sunday.

British Columbia didn’t provide updated COVID-19 data to the public over the weekend. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are expected to provide more details Monday about the limited availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Self-assessment and supports:

With winter cold and influenza season approaching, Alberta Health Services will prioritize Albertans for testing who have symptoms, and those groups which are at higher risk of getting or spreading the virus.

General asymptomatic testing is currently unavailable for people with no known exposure to COVID-19.

Those who test positive will be asked to use the online COVID-19 contact tracing tool, so that their close contacts can be notified by text message.

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.