COVID-19 Update: 144 new cases, two additional deaths | Calgarians rally ahead of school re-openings

Minel, 10, and Maren Auckerman, along with their dog Aven, protest outside the offices of Calgary MLAs Jason Copping and Jason Nixon on Friday, Aug. 21, 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.

What’s happening now

AHS receives nearly 20,000 complaints of Albertans not following COVID-19 guidelines

 A woman wearing a face mask passes by Vine Arts Wine and Spirits on 17th Avenue S.W. where a sign requires customers to wear face coverings on Friday, July 31, 2020.

Alberta Health Services has received nearly 20,000 reports of alleged infractions of COVID-19 guidelines since the start of the pandemic.

On Friday, the AHS said an online complaints portal and phone line have so far yielded 19,462 reports about Albertans not following regulations regarding self-isolation and other perceived infractions since March.

The number of complaints spiked in April with 7,145 reports — a number that tapered off to 2,376 in July and to 1,240 so far in August.

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Police forced to step in as hundreds of shoppers show up for grocery store reopening

 The Asian Food Centre located in the Savanna Bazar Shopping Mall had to close its doors minutes after its grand opening today. A large crowd of people forced the new grocery store to close due to physical distancing concerns. Friday, August 21, 2020.

City police helped shut down a northeast grocery store after its grand opening was thronged by hundreds of eager shoppers failing to physically distance.

At around 11 a.m., officers were called to the Asian Food Centre at the Savanna Bazaar at 88th Avenue and 60th Street N.E. which had offered complimentary items for the first few hundred shoppers.

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144 new cases, two deaths

Teachers already have ‘clear time’ to prepare for re-entry: LaGrange

Teachers have time to prepare for re-entry with the current return-to-school dates, Alberta’s education minister said on Friday.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange took to Twitter to respond to the Alberta Teachers’ Association request to delay the start of the school year to allow teachers extra time to prepare for students to return amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

She wrote that school boards are allowed to delay or stagger start dates if it’s “in their local best interest” and that the teachers have “clear time… to prepare for re-entry before their students arrive.”

“These partners remain confident, as do I, that the school re-entry plan, as written, already provides local school authorities with the autonomy and flexibility to ensure local needs are met and to prepare schools for a safe re-entry,” LaGrange wrote.

“I encourage local education partners to continue to collaborate and work together on the decisions related to school calendars,” she continued.

ATA president Jason Schilling and LaGrange met on Wednesday to discuss the school restart

and the ATA requested the start of the school year be delayed to allow additional planning to reduce the risk of COVID-19. The ATA also requested the formation of a stakeholder working group, a clearer plan for switching to different scenarios, better physical distancing through reduced class sizes, additional funding for increased cleaning of schools, better plans for ongoing screening and testing of students and staff, as well as clear availability and supports of substitute teachers.

‘Beyond disappointed’: Calgary teachers, parents protest UCP school re-entry plan

 Protesters draw chalk messages on the sidewalk in front of Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s constituency office in southwest Calgary on Friday, August 21, 2020. On site security said the area is private property and protesters and media were told to stand on a nearby grass area.

Alberta parents and teachers protested in front of the offices of United Conservative Government MLAs Friday, demanding more funding and safety measures ahead of the planned September return to schools.

In total, 27 small rallies took place across Alberta, with 14 in Calgary, including at offices of prominent UCP ministers like Health Minister Tyler Shandro in Calgary-Acadia and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in Red Deer-North.

Outside Shandro’s office, about 15 teachers, parents and students waved signs and wrote chalk slogans like “Classrooms before war rooms” and “The future deserves funding.” They protested across the street from the constituency office after security staff kicked them off and washed chalk off the sidewalk.

Read more.

Alberta releases guidelines for how schools will respond to COVID-19 outbreaks

 St. Stephen School in southwest Calgary announces it is ready to open on Sept. 2, 2020.

Outbreak protocols will kick into gear in an Alberta school if there are two or more confirmed cases linked to each other or confirmed within a 14-day period, 

according to a guide

 released by the government Thursday afternoon.

One case will trigger “alert status,” and the school will need to work with Alberta Health Services (AHS) on contact tracing and send a message to parents and guardians to let them know. If two cases are confirmed within 14 days or are “epidemiologically linked,” parents will get a letter, and a decision about whether or not to go online or close the school will be made by the government, along with public health officials.

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Imperial Oil reports seven cases of COVID-19 at Strathcona County refinery

Seven workers at the Imperial Oil refinery in Strathcona County have tested positive for COVID-19, as the province reported 103 new cases and one additional death Thursday.

The company announced five active cases and two recoveries in a news release.

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UCP, Hinshaw defend comments by Edmonton doctor on school re-entry

 Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

An Edmonton physician’s assertion in a recent newspaper column regarding COVID-19 transmission in school settings was “appropriate,” according to Alberta’s top doctor, who weighed in Thursday after the NDP Opposition claimed Premier Jason Kenney was “irresponsible” to amplify the article.

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Kentucky man faces $750K fine for breaking quarantine rules by detouring to Banff

A Kentucky man could face a fine of up to $750,000 or six months in jail for allegedly violating a quarantine order in the Alberta Rockies in late June.

John Pennington, 40, was initially given a $1,200 ticket on June 25 after staff at a Banff hotel called the RCMP saying they believed the United States citizen was violating the Alberta Public Health Act during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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103 new cases, one death

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided an update on COVID-19.

  • 103 new cases on 9,281 tests in last 24 hours
  • 1,084 active cases
  • 43 people in hospital; 12 in ICUs
  • One additional death; 228 Albertans have died from the virus
  • 11,292 recovered cases

Watch the full update below.

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