covid-19

COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for March 23


Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Calgary

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With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.


What’s happening now

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My COVID Story: How have you been impacted by coronavirus?

Postmedia is looking to speak with people who may have been impacted by COVID-19 here in Alberta.  Have you undergone a travel-related quarantine? Have you received your vaccine, and if so did you feel any side effects? Have you changed your life for the better because of the pandemic? Send us an email at reply@calgaryherald.com to tell us your experience, or send us a message via this form.

Read our ongoing coverage of personal stories arising from the pandemic.


Pharmacies in and around Calgary offering COVID-19 vaccine

This map shows 53 pharmacies in Calgary, Chestermere and Airdrie offering the COVID-19 vaccine. More locations will be added in the coming days, according to the provincial government. Appointments are still required and can be booked by contacting the participating pharmacies. Details on eligibility and booking can be found here.



Only 1.5% of air travellers tested positive for COVID-19: Health Canada

WestJet Boeing 737 aircraft are seen in storage at the Calgary International Airport on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.Gavin Young/Postmedia
WestJet Boeing 737 aircraft are seen in storage at the Calgary International Airport on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

Only a small percentage of travellers entering Canada since the end of February tested positive for COVID-19.

Health Canada data obtained by the Toronto Sun on Tuesday shows that 640 of the 44,089 travellers who arrived in Canada by air between Feb. 22 and March 15 tested positive for COVID-19.

Read more.


Had COVID? If you’re younger, one dose of vaccine might be enough

A young woman is vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on March 11, 2021 in Schwaz, Austria.
A young woman is vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on March 11, 2021 in Schwaz, Austria. Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

Weeks after saying COVID-19 vaccine doses could be spaced out up to four months apart, a national expert advisory group is now deliberating whether one shot alone is sufficient for people who have had COVID.

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Several recent small studies suggest that a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots can launch a rapid immune response in people previously infected with the pandemic virus.

Read more.


0324 covid trends graphic


Alberta to hand out rapid testing kits to employers on request

A paramedic conducts a rapid antigen test at a COVID-19 testing station in this file photo.
A paramedic conducts a rapid antigen test at a COVID-19 testing station in this file photo. Photo by Sean Gallup /Getty Images

After rolling out COVID-19 rapid testing programs in places such as long-term care facilities, schools and homeless shelters, the province is now planning to make those kits available to employers that request them.

Starting today, any employer public or private can apply for free rapid testing kits. Priority will be given to businesses and organizations involved with vulnerable populations, high-risk settings, essential services, and sectors that support the reopening of economic and social activity.

The provincial website says successful applicants are responsible for costs related to their screening programs, as well as the medical and legal responsibilities.

Business and organizations will also have to find a health care provider to oversee their in-house screening, although tests can be done by a layperson, according to the province’s release.

Details and application forms can be found on the province’s website.


Hinshaw says shipment delay should not affect current vaccine appointments

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday that there has been a delay in picking up Moderna vaccine shipments from Belgium, but this won’t affect people who have already booked their appointments.

“While delays are disappointing, this should not impact any existing bookings,” wrote HInshaw in a tweet. “Some pharmacies have been cancelling or re-booking appointments because of last week’s delay in Moderna vaccine. But these two are unrelated.”

She said while delays are frustrating, shipments continue to roll in and the province anticipates having a first shot for everyone by the end of June.

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A year on from first lockdown, Britain grieves for COVID-19 dead

A man stands near a bus stop in the City of London financial district in London, Jan. 5, 2021, on the first morning of England entering a third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began.
A man stands near a bus stop in the City of London financial district in London, Jan. 5, 2021, on the first morning of England entering a third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. Photo by Matt Dunham /Associated Press

A year to the day after they were first ordered to stay at home to contain the spread of COVID-19, Britons on Tuesday remembered more than 126,000 people who lost their lives to the disease, a toll few people could have imagined in March 2020.

At midday (1200 GMT), people in parliament, hospitals, churches, public places and offices – still mostly empty with millions working at home due to social distancing rules – fell silent for a minute to honour the dead.

People were also being invited to stand on their doorsteps at 8 p.m. holding candles or torches.

Read more.


Albertans more worried about cash flow, saving for retirement amid COVID-19 pandemic, says RBC poll

A Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) logo is seen on Bay Street in the heart of the financial district in Toronto.
A Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) logo is seen on Bay Street in the heart of the financial district in Toronto. Photo by Mark Blinch /REUTERS, file

Cash-strapped Albertans are paying more attention to their finances amid the COVID-19 pandemic, shows an RBC Financial poll.

About 47 per cent of Albertans say they’re paying closer attention to day-to-day living expenses while more than half don’t have a financial plan in place, according to the poll released on Tuesday. Only 24 per cent of Albertans say they’re giving more attention to having enough money on hand if the pandemic worsens compared to the national average of 25 per cent.

Dawn Tam, a regional financial planning consultant with RBC, said managing debt has become a larger priority for Albertans as cash flow has become a bigger concern.

Read more.


Monday

Braid: The vaccine vs. the virus — each struggle to control the future

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro. Photo by Courtesy Government of Alberta

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Columnist Don Braid writes:

Monday’s decision to postpone the next stage of reopening — and lifting some COVID-19 restrictions — was a tricky one for the UCP. It seems to violate the government’s own guideline.

This was surely a painful decision. Many UCP MLAs are eager to get rid of restrictions as soon as possible. The ruling will also devastate some business owners who were counting on the move to the next phase of reopening.

But delaying this phase was definitely the only rational call.

Referring to the likelihood that hospitalizations will climb, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said, “It would be irresponsible and unfair to Albertans to ease measures only to reinstate them.”

More openings at this point would invite a further surge of the COVID-19 variants. That would be a foolish gamble just as vaccines are starting to take hold.

Read more.


Monday

Alberta postpones third step of economic relaunch as hospitalizations, cases increase

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

With COVID-19 cases, variant cases and hospitalizations on the rise, Alberta has delayed entering the third step of its economic relaunch strategy.

The province did not meet all the criteria required to further ease restrictions on Monday, Alberta’s Health Minister Tyler Shandro said. While hospitalizations remained below the 300 benchmark necessary for Step 3, admissions to hospitals have increased for seven consecutive days.

There are 280 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 48 in intensive-care units. Based on the current rate of community transmission, Shandro said hospitalizations are expected to surpass 300 within a week.

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Monday

No restrictions eased; 456 new cases, five deaths

Health Minister Tyler Shandro joined chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw for her daily COVID-19 update on Monday afternoon.

  • No easing of restrictions right now, Shandro said
  • Despite hospitalizations being below 300 (the threshold for Step 3 of reopening), they are rising, Shandro said
  • Expect to have 300 people in hospital within week
  • Half of those in hospital for COVID-19, 90% of people in ICU are below the age of 65, Shandro noted
  • Variants of concern are 16% of active cases; Hinshaw said that about 20-25% of new cases recently have been variants
  • R-value in Alberta for last week is 1.14

The latest COVID-19 numbers:

  • Over 488,000 doses of vaccine administered
  • 456 new cases of COVID-19 on 7,547 tests; 6.1% positivity rate
  • 280 in hospital; 48 in ICUs
  • Five additional deaths; 1,968 total
  • 6,176 active cases; 134,246 recovered
  • 110 new cases of variants
  • Active alerts or outbreaks in 339 schools; 1,474 cases in these schools since Jan. 11

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You can watch the full update below.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Alberta

The Calgary South Health Campus on Monday, March 1, 2021.
The Calgary South Health Campus on Monday, March 1, 2021. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia


Monday

Hinshaw denies rumours that Alberta is holding on to vaccine surplus

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has sent out a series of tweets responding to “inaccurate” claims that the province is holding back vaccine surplus.

“There is no surplus held in storage,” wrote Hinshaw. “When we receive a large shipment, it is distributed as quickly as possible. Every dose of vaccine available is being provided to Albertans within days of arrival in the province.”

Vaccination appointments are now being accepted for Albertans born in 1947 to 1956, as well as First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) people born 1971 or earlier. Booking can be done through participating pharmacies, at AHS online or by calling 811. FNMI living on-reserve may book through a local clinic; those living off-reserve may book through pharmacies, AHS online or 811.

As of March 20, there were 459,856 doses of vaccine administered in Alberta. A total of 93,236 Albertans have been fully immunized.

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Monday

GraceLife pastor James Coates handed $1,500 fine, will be able to leave jail

Pastor James Coates: Screenshot of GraceLife Church video.
Pastor James Coates: Screenshot of GraceLife Church video.

The maximum punishment that could have been imposed was a $2,000 fine or six months in prison. Provincial Judge Jeffrey Champion credited James Coates for issuing a guilty plea.

Read more.


Monday

They kill jobs, overwhelm treasuries, harm mental health but COVID lockdowns work, science suggests

A near-empty Stephen Avenue on Dec. 29, 2020, reflects the hardships of restaurants and businesses dealing with pandemic restrictions.
A near-empty Stephen Avenue on Dec. 29, 2020, reflects the hardships of restaurants and businesses dealing with pandemic restrictions. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
In the battle against the coronavirus, lockdowns have been bitter medicine, causing unemployment not seen since the Great Depression, wiping out myriad businesses, costing government billions and triggering countless mental and physical health side effects.

Though they’ve differed on the details, the scores of studies examining the policies’ impact have mostly come to similar conclusions: Like it or not, restricting human-to-human contact has been key to curbing the virus’s spread. And helping prevent grim scenarios of death and grave illness.

“All you have to do is look at the places that have had big lockdowns,” says Dr. Mark Jit, an epidemiology professor at the U.K.’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “You can see that the peak in the number of cases is a few days after the lockdown, and then the cases just keep dropping.”

Read more.

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