COVID-19 Update: Medicine Hat passes mandatory mask bylaw | 1,685 new cases, 10 deaths

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Araleigh Cranch adjusts her mask watching the sunset on Crescent Hill as the province announced plans for vaccines starting in January in Calgary on Wednesday, December 2, 2020.

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.

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WHO looks at possible ‘e-vaccination certificates’ for travel

This file photo taken on February 24, 2020 shows the logo of the World Health Organization (WHO) at their headquarters in Geneva.

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend countries issuing “immunity passports” for those who have recovered from COVID-19, but is looking at prospects of deploying e-vaccination certificates like those it is developing with Estonia.

Estonia and the United Nations health agency in October started a pilot project for a digital vaccine certificate – a “smart yellow card” – for eventual use in interoperable healthcare data tracking and to strengthen the WHO-backed COVAX initiative to boost vaccinations in developing countries.

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Health Canada to finish review on Pfizer vaccine candidate soon, federal govt. says

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Canada is drawing closer to making a decision on a leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Wednesday as the federal government continued to face pressure to deliver on doses amid mounting cases and deaths.

In a series of Twitter messages, Hajdu described the United Kingdom’s decision to authorize the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech as “encouraging.”

“Health Canada’s review of this candidate is ongoing, and is expected to be completed soon,” she wrote.

“Making sure a COVID-19 vaccine is safe before approving it is Health Canada’s priority, and when a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”

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Hockey team that picked up COVID in Alberta wreaks havoc in B.C. community

File photo of B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

An old-timers hockey team travelled from the Interior Health region into Alberta and returned with sick players, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday.

Those players then spread the disease to dozens of people, including family and workmates.

“I can tell you that it was several dozen families that were infected. Several businesses affected, long-term care was affected,” said Henry.

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Medicine Hat passes mandatory mask bylaw

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Medicine Hat’s welcome sign sits on the east side of the city on Wednesday, August 22, 2012.

Medicine Hat city council passed a mandatory face covering bylaw on Wednesday night.

The bylaw, which passed with a 6-3 vote, will come into effect on Friday. Children under the age of two are exempt, as are people seated in a restaurant or bar, people participating in a sport, or certain performers.

“The city maintains the view that public health is not under municipal jurisdiction and that our residents are responsible and capable enough to take advice from public health officials and do the right thing. However, with the recent surge in local positive cases and significant feedback from our residents, it is clear our community is looking for this decision at the local level,” said Mayor Ted Clugston in a release.

“We are also trying to relieve the pressure on our local business owners and operators. They want to follow all guidelines to ensure they can stay open, but they need the support of a bylaw to enforce mask use. It’s not fair to lay that burden on front line staff.”

He said the mask bylaw has been one of the most divisive issues council has faced, and he’s calling on all people to accept the decision and treat each other with respect and kindness.

Tickets issued to Calgary anti-mask protest leaders

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About 1,000 people took part in a rally protesting mandatory masks and COVID-19 lockdowns outside the Calgary Municipal Building on Saturday.

Tickets were handed out Wednesday to several organizers and attendees of a newly-illegal anti-mask protest in downtown Calgary last weekend.

In at least one instance, police officers issuing them were angrily greeted by a recipient who claimed the move was reminiscent of Nazism.

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Braid: The promise of a vaccine in January comes with great hope, high stakes

© Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta
Premier Jason Kenney in Edmonton on Wednesday, Dec, 2, 2020.

Columnist Don Braid writes: There was something odd about the familiar faces at the microphone. They were smiling for the first time in months.

Vaccine for COVID-19 will soon be on the way. The first batch should come to Alberta in early January and will “continue to arrive in waves throughout next year,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

This is a rush medical job like no other. It’s a psychological treatment too, because a holiday season without hope was going to leave many people on the verge of snapping.

Read more .


Alberta announces plan to roll out COVID-19 vaccines

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Alberta is launching a COVID-19 task force to prepare for the distribution of vaccines expected to be received in early January, Premier Jason Kenney announced Wednesday.

The province is expecting to receive its first vaccine shipment by Jan. 4, and as many as 435,000 Albertans could be immunized within the first three months of 2021.

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Employers increasingly fatigued with work-from-home arrangements: survey

© Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia
A halo around the sun shines above downtown Calgary’s skyscrapers on June 5, 2020.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and offices transitioned to work-from-home arrangements, many people speculated that remote work could become the norm and replace the physical office forever. But a new survey suggests that the office is not dead, as employers appear to be growing less enthusiastic about remote work as the pandemic drags on.

According to a report by commercial real estate firm Colliers, employers surveyed in June estimated that working from home had caused employee productivity to drop by 22.6 per cent. In a November survey, this number had increased to 23.4 per cent.

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1,685 new cases, 10 deaths; Kenney lays out vaccination roadmap

Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided an update on COVID-19 in the province.

  • 17,144 active cases in Alberta
  • 1,685 new cases on 18,432 tests; 9.2% positivity rate
  • 504 in hospital; 97 in ICUs
  • 10 additional deaths; 561 total
  • Active alerts or outbreaks in 397 schools, about 17% of all schools in Alberta; 1,537 active cases in these schools
  • 210 schools with outbreaks of two or more cases, 96 on watch list with five or more cases
  • Kenney said the province is planning on vaccinating about 435,000 Albertans between January and March 2021, focusing on most at-risk population initially
  • Initial priority groups include residents of long-term care and designated supported living and staff in long-term care facilities, on-reserve First Nations over the age of 65, seniors aged 75 and over, health-care workers needed to ensure workforce capacity and likely to transmit COVID-19 to those greatest at risk
  • Phase two of vaccine distribution will run April to June 2021, goal to vaccinate about 30% of population; priority groups for phase two to be determined
  • Phase three after that in summer/fall 2021 will be for the general population

You can watch the full update below.


Alberta requests field hospitals from Ottawa and Red Cross as rising COVID cases overwhelm capacity

© Gavin Young/Postmedia/File
A COVID-19 information sign outside the Foothills Hospital in Calgary.

he Alberta government has asked the federal government and the Red Cross to supply four field hospitals to care for patients as the COVID-19 case numbers in the province continue to rise, straining the capacity of the health-care system in the province.

CBC first reported the news, citing a federal source who said the province was likely to receive four hospitals, two from the federal government and two from the Red Cross. A source within the Alberta government confirmed the request has been made, but said it was “contingency” planning, should the pandemic continue to get worse, and that there is “no specific plan to activate them.”

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