COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for April 14 – Calgary Herald
Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Calgary
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.
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 to tell us your experience, or send us a message via this form.
Read our ongoing coverage of personal stories arising from the pandemic.

Yesterday, Premier Jason Kenney again reiterated his hope for a 2021 Stampede. At the same time, the Country Thunder music festival, usually held in August, has postponed again until 2022. Festival organizers cited the uncertainty around large-scale gatherings and ongoing travel restrictions as reasons for postponing the festival.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand revealed the government has spent $8 billion on vaccine contracts and defended the government’s overall performance getting shots delivered to Canadians at a House of Commons committee Wednesday.
Anand appeared before the House of Commons government operations committee and said the government has spent about $8 billion on the vaccine deals with seven different companies for hundreds of millions of total doses.
Read more.

Were it a normal year, hordes of skiers and snowboarders, filmmakers and other visitors would now be descending on Whistler, B.C. for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, an international extravaganza of mountain culture, music and partying.
This year, however, the festival is being held virtually from April 16-23, and the mountain resort two hours north of Vancouver is getting international headlines for another reason. Whistler is at the centre of one of the largest outbreaks of the P1 Brazilian COVID variant in the country, if not the world — outside of South America.
Read more.
Brazil’s P.1 coronavirus variant, behind a deadly COVID-19 surge in the Latin American country that has raised international alarm, is mutating in ways that could make it better able to evade antibodies, according to scientists studying the virus.
Research conducted by the public health institute Fiocruz into the variants circulating in Brazil found mutations in the spike region of the virus that is used to enter and infect cells.
Read more.

In total, 810,111 Albertans have received at least one shot of #COVID19AB vaccine.

That's 18.3% of Albertans, and 23.5% of Alberta adults.

Alberta's seven-day average for daily shots administered is 35,470.

(Note Apr 11 data averaged over two days in below chart.)#yyc #yeg

Students in Grades 7 to 12 at Calgary public and Catholic schools will temporarily shift to at-home learning for at least two weeks, the province announced Wednesday, as it reported more than 1,400 new COVID-19 cases across Alberta.
Read more.

As of April 14, Alberta Health has identified 1,230 oilsands workers that have had COVID-19 in ongoing oilsands outbreaks in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region. There are 232 oilsands workers that are still active.
It is not known how many of these workers are commuters or local residents. A sick oilsands worker is reflected in local numbers if they are a resident of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. If a commuter tests positive in the RMWB or if contact tracing shows the virus was caught locally, that positive case is reflected in the their home community’s statistics.
These numbers do not include past outbreaks that have ended. A workplace outbreak ends after 30 days of no new cases. The numbers do not include oilsands workers that caught COVID-19 outside of a workplace outbreak.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) lists workplaces and schools that have ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, but does not include active and recovered numbers for each individual site. These numbers were obtained through a media request. RMWB Mayor Don Scott has called for this to change, while AHS says this function could be included in future updates.
The company hit hardest has been Canadian Natural Resources, which has had 479 cases. The Horizon site has had 303 cases in this current outbreak, with 63 active and 240 recovered. Albian has had 157 cases, with 11 active and 146 recovered. Jackfish has had 19 cases, with 10 active and nine recovered.
Suncor follows, with 371 cases reported in current outbreaks. Suncor base plant, which has had 351 cases in this current outbreak, has 80 active cases. This is more active cases than any other site as of April 14.
The remaining numbers from ongoing oilsands outbreaks include:
—Vincent McDermott, Fort McMurray Today

A Liberal MP caused quite the consternation in the House of Commons Wednesday when he appeared completely naked on camera during question period.
Bloc Québécois Whip Claude DeBellefeuille first laid bare the incident when she interrupted the House of Commons’ proceedings asking speaker of the House Anthony Rota to intervene.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, you have repeated many times the importance of respecting decorum and dress code. And I think that we have broken a record today, because we saw an MP, during question period, in the simplest of attires. In other words, naked,” DeBellefeuille told the speaker after seeing her undressed colleague.
“So if you could remind our colleagues, particularly the men, that a tie and a jacket are obligatory, but also a shirt, underwear and pants. We were able to see that the MP was in great physical form, but I think it’s important to remind him to control his camera.”
Read more.

Grades 7 to 12 in Calgary will be moving to at-home learning.
Alberta Education made the announcement in a press release on Wednesday afternoon that students in Grades 7 to 12 in the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District will move to at-home learning for at least two weeks starting on April 19.
“While everyone’s preference is to learn in school, some school boards are dealing with operational pressures due to rising COVID-19 cases in the community,” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in the press release. “The safety of students and staff is my top priority, which is why I am responding to the boards’ requests and respecting their autonomy. By having a clear process in place, we are giving them flexibility to move to at-home learning when necessary.”
Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in the release that the province is seeing a “sharp rise in cases among school-aged Albertans.”
Chestermere, which has Calgary Catholic School District schools, is not included in the move to at-home learning, education press secretary Nicole Sparrow told me. #COVID19AB
“The greatest impacts of COVID-19 cases have been in the Grade 7-12 schools,” Calgary Board of Education board chair Marilyn Dennis said in the release. “Moving these students online will help to ensure learning continuity, address operational concerns and support the health and well-being of CBE students, staff and the Calgary community.”
NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said in a press release that Premier Jason Kenney “clearly doesn’t have any idea what’s happening inside Alberta classrooms or communities.”
“He has failed to give Alberta schools the resources they need to keep classrooms safe,” she said. “The reasons the UCP gave for moving these students are exactly the factors we warned them about. Staff shortages, school closures, too many students in isolation, and community spread. All of these problems were foreseeable months ago, and Jason Kenney did nothing.”
Read more.

A new large-scale COVID-19 immunization clinic is addressing barriers to health care for Indigenous people by putting community and culture first.
The urban clinic opened its doors on Wednesday at the Best Western Premier Calgary Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre in the city’s northeast.
It is the second clinic to open thanks to a coalition of Indigenous-led organizations, including the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, Siksika Health Services, Okaki and other local partners.
Read more.
The latest COVID-19 numbers for Alberta:

Alberta has identified 778 new COVID-19 variant cases, bringing its active total to 8,197.

This represents 52.6% of the 15,569 total active COVID-19 cases in the province.#COVID19AB
Of 12,932 total COVID-19 variant cases identified in Alberta, 8,197 are active, 4,688 have recovered and 47 have died.#COVID19AB
There was no live update from chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Wednesday afternoon. The next live update is scheduled for Thursday.

Ten physician clinics in Alberta will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible patients under a pilot project starting Monday.
Participating doctors’ offices will receive 200 initial doses of the Moderna vaccine and will contact patients directly to book appointments.
Two in each of the Alberta Health Services health zones – South, Calgary, Central, Edmonton and North – will take part in the pilot. The locations will not be released publicly to “prevent patient care at these clinics being affected by public interest,” the government said in a news release Wednesday.
Read more.

There are now 354 pharmacies offering the COVID-19 vaccine in Calgary. Although the government said on Monday that “select” pharmacies are taking (AstraZeneca) walk-ins for those aged 55-64, it’s likely best to call ahead. Before booking, go to the Alberta government website to find out when you’re eligible for your free vaccination. More details on booking an appointment at a pharmacy can be found at Alberta Blue Cross.

A project that charts the presence of the virus responsible for COVID-19 in Calgary sewage is showing a significant spike since mid-March.
The data, which is available in graph form on a public website, shows levels of the virus trending upward, and sample points higher than the previous highs seen in mid-December, when Calgary was in its second wave.
Read more.

It’ll take years for a pandemic-grounded Calgary International Airport to recover from a devastating 2020, say its operators.
The airport expects even fewer passengers to move through its terminals this year than last – 5.1 million compared to 5.7 million in 2020 – a 68 per cent descent from a record 18 million recorded in 2019.
“The pandemic decimated demand for travel and erased 25 years of passenger growth at YYC,” said Bob Sartor, President and CEO of the Calgary Airport Authority.
Read more.

Last June, GraceLife Church of Edmonton emerged from the first wave of COVID-19 like thousands of other Albertans: hopeful, a bit wary, ready to adapt to the new normal.
“Hello GraceLife family!” church elders wrote in a June 19, 2020, bulletin. Like countless faith groups, GraceLife had moved to online services at the pandemic’s outset. But with the Alberta government easing restrictions, the church opted — “after consideration, discussion, and prayer” — to reopen in-person worship that Sunday.
The bulletin laid out how church leaders decided to return to “nearly normal,” and the safety measures that would be taken to prevent outbreaks. Congregants were asked to refrain from hugs and handshakes. People with symptoms were asked to stay home. The church balcony would be opened for those wanting to socially distance, while the nursery would remain closed.
Read more.

The idea of people being removed from intensive care, unhooked from ventilators that might have saved them to make room for someone else more likely to survive is almost unfathomable, says the president and CEO of Canada’s largest university hospital.
“I believe we’ll fight that one as long as humanly possible, and I pray we never get to the point of having to consider that,” said Dr. Kevin Smith, head of Toronto’s University Health Network and co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 critical care table.
Staged withdrawals of life-support from people with low chances of survival are not part of a 32-page emergency triage protocol that would be enacted should Ontario ICU’s become saturated.
Read more.

Denmark on Wednesday became the first country to stop using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine altogether, following news of its possible link to very rare blood clot cases, health authorities said.
The decision will push back the scheduled conclusion of Denmark‘s vaccination scheme to early August from July 25, they said.
The Danish Health Authority will “continue the roll-out of its vaccination program, without AstraZeneca,” according to a statement on Wednesday.
“There is a link between rare, but serious” side effects and the Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, the authority said. It listed the risk of blood clots, hemorrhaging and a low number of blood platelets.
Read more.

A Calgary breakfast restaurant that pledged to remain open for indoor dining has been ordered to cease dine-in service by Alberta Health Services.
Bennys Breakfast Bar, located at 7007 11 Street S.E., defied the reintroduced ban on indoor dining until an AHS inspector shut the restaurant down for dine-in on Saturday after finding numerous violations. According to the notice of closure dated Monday, the inspector found people unmasked and within two metres of each other while waiting for a table.
Read more.

Parents are calling for innovation and leadership as 28 Calgary schools face major COVID outbreaks of 10 or more cases — 18 of which are high schools — and more than 6,300 students in isolation.
Among those as of Tuesday, Sir Winston Churchill High School hit 25 total cases, while Western Canada High School moved all Grade 10 students to online learning until at least April 26.
Read more.

Hospitalizations in Alberta due to COVID-19 surpassed 400 on Tuesday, as the province’s top health and political officials warned of potentially increasing measures in an effort to slow spread of the deadly virus.
The province reported 1,081 more cases from 12,286 tests, for a nine per cent positivity rate. Of those, 705 were cases of the variant strain first detected in the U.K.
“My team is monitoring closely and if we do not see growth slowing soon, further measures may be required,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during a media briefing.
She said the next seven to 10 days would be critical in determining whether increased restrictions would be needed.
Read more.

WestJet is extending the suspension of “sun flights” to Mexico and the Caribbean until at least June 4.
In a Tuesday news release, the Calgary-based airline said that it expects “government policy will transition” as more Canadians are vaccinated.
“We continue to advocate for the replacement of mandatory hotel quarantines with a testing regime that is equitable and consistent with global standards at all points of entry into our country,” said president and CEO Ed Sims in the news release. “Alongside an accelerated and successful vaccine rollout, this policy transition will support the safe restart of travel and help stimulate the Canadian economy, where one in ten jobs are tourism related.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Jan. 29 that WestJet, Air Canada, Sunwing and Transat agreed to suspend flights to typical vacation destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30 as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from international flights. Those suspensions were announced alongside the federal government’s mandatory isolation policy which requires international travellers to quarantine at government-designated hotels.
WestJet said customers will be notified of any cancellations and noted that it has been providing refunds when WestJet initiates the cancellation since Nov. 1, 2020.
Related: Aid for WestJet likely imminent in aftermath of multi-billion dollar Air Canada deal: analysts

Country music festival Country Thunder been postponed again due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It had been rescheduled from its 2020 dates to Aug. 20-22, 2021 but will be pushed back a year. The festival said it plans to return to Prairie Winds Park for Aug. 19-21, 2022.
“We understand that this is not news that our fans in Alberta wanted to hear,” Country Thunder Music festivals CEO Troy Vollhoffer said in an email. “But, as we have learned, and given these extenuating circumstances, the decision-making process is completely out of our hands.”
The festival cited the uncertainty around large-scale gatherings and ongoing border and travel restrictions as reasons for postponing the festival until 2022.
When the festival was scheduled for Aug. 21-23, 2020 it had booked headliners Keith Urban, Dan + Shay and Kane Brown. When the festival announced in April 2020 it was postponed to 2021, organizers had said they would try to schedule the same headliners. There were no headliners for the now postponed 2021 edition listed on the Country Thunder website, but tickets were on sale as of Tuesday afternoon.
When the festival was postponed last year, organizers said tickets for the 2020 edition would be honoured for 2021 but refunds were also an option.

Calgary Co-op is moving to a “strict no mask, no entry policy” on April 19.
In an email sent out on Tuesday to members signed by CEO Ken Keelor, Co-op said it was making the change due to “an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in our community, along with a stark increase in the number of variant cases.”
“Entry to all Calgary Co-op Locations will be granted only to those wearing a face mask (children two and under are exempt),” read the email. “Individuals who are unable to wear a face mask due to a medical condition must wear a face shield. Customers must wear a face mask or shield that covers their nose and mouth at all times.”
The email encouraged those who can’t wear either to shop online or through click and collect at select locations.
It also said the stores are observing other health and safety practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including frequent cleaning and sanitization of high touch points, distancing markers, capacity limits, and mandatory screening of employees for COVID-19 symptoms before their shifts start.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided an update on the province’s COVID-19 case numbers on Tuesday afternoon.

Kenney compared Alberta's situation to that of Ontario, where he noted that province is close to reaching peak ICU capacity.

"My commitment to Albertans is we will not go there. We will not put our doctors in a position of deciding which patients live or die."#COVID19AB #ableg
Dr. Hinshaw has Alberta has administered more than 900,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

“I want to encourage anyone who is eligible — all 1.7 million Albertans — to book your appointment as soon as possible.”#COVID19AB
Asked about protests this past weekend outside GraceLife church, Dr. Hinshaw says it’s “understandable to feel angry” about the ongoing pandemic.

“The individuals who are choosing to protest do not speak for the majority of Albertans,” she adds.#COVID19AB
Watch the full livestream below.

A federal aid package for Calgary-based WestJet will likely be announced soon, analysts say, though exactly what form that aid may take remains to be seen.
News broke Monday that Air Canada — the country’s largest airline and WestJet’s main competitor — will receive a multi-billion dollar relief package from the federal government and in return, will restore domestic routes and refund customers whose flights were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Air Canada and WestJet have been lobbying for months for government help in the wake of COVID-19 and the resulting cascade of travel bans, restrictions and quarantine orders that have decimated the airline industry and forced both companies to cancel routes and lay off thousands of people.
Read more.

Alberta’s government is relaunching its previous support grant to help small and medium businesses through the third COVID-19 wave.
On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney announced a new $350-million phase of the province’s Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant (SMERG), reviving a program that began late last year and expired in March.
Alberta small and mid-sized businesses that have seen revenues decline by at least 30 per cent because of public health restrictions will be eligible to receive up to $10,000 through a new round of the relaunch grant, in addition to $20,000 made available in two previous phases.
Read more.

AHS says 29 cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to a Calgary bar which hosted an “event” in late March.
In a work order sent to the owners of Junction, located at 628 8th Avenue S.W., AHS inspectors say epidemiologists have traced 27 cases back to the establishment. The cases are all linked to an event on March 22.
According to the work order, patrons at the event were socializing within two metres of each other.
Today, Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said there are now 29 cases linked to Junction, with six of those classified as active, and 23 of them considered recovered.
Junction is now listed an outbreak on the province’s website. It is one of five Calgary food establishments linked to an active outbreak.
Junction’s website markets the establishment as a bar with a stage that also serves basic $5  menu items. At the time of the event cited in the work order, Albertans were able to dine in at restaurants in groups as large as six, although only with members of their household or cohort. The number of patrons was limited to 50 per cent of the fire code capacity.
As of April 9, Alberta returned to Step 1 restrictions to combat a growing third wave of COVID-19, meaning restaurants are now only allowed to open for take-out service.

He brought up @calgarystampede and said that the government expects health measures to reduce over May and June. "And the premier's been really clear, he wants us to try and have a Stampede this year," Schweitzer said. (Kenney's comments from this weekend
He said the government is closely watching jurisdictions further along the vaccine timeline, specifically Israel and the United States, which "are basically doing research and development for us as to what are safe things to do going forward." #COVID19AB
He noted that a lot of reopening and future live events depend on vaccinations. The government reached Phase 2C of the vaccination rollout two weeks earlier than anticipated, according to Schweitzer, and that we could move to Stage 3 "pretty quick." #COVID19AB
Schweitzer said that you likely won't see what's currently happening in the United States, like full baseball stadiums. But that as the 2nd dose of vaccine is available to more people, there will be more allowances for capacity. (end thread) #COVID19AB

The city will again reduce penalties for Calgarians who miss this year’s property tax payment deadline.
City council is also exploring a tax deferral for businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, like hotels, nightclubs and gyms.
Last year, in the early days of dealing with the coronavirus, council voted to extend the tax payment deadline to Sept. 30. They also approved rolling back the costs that add up for businesses and homeowners that don’t pay on time.
Typically, going past the June 30 tax due date comes with a seven per cent penalty. If the payment still hasn’t arrived three months after that, another seven per cent hit gets added on top. In 2020, the penalties were applied only on Oct. 1, and council cut them in half.
This year will follow the same scenario: a 3.5 per cent penalty for missing the first summer deadline, and no additional penalty after that. The city also won’t roll out additional charges for unpaid 2021 taxes until at least March of 2022.
The city is able to keep managing a deferral program this year, #yyccc hears.
Nenshi says doing this will give people short-term assistance for about a year, but doesn't solve all the problems #yyccc is facing.
Read more.
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