COVID-19 Update: Bigger class could lead to wave of infections, says study | AHS receives nearly 20,000 complaints

Images in Calgary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

German scientists stage concert experiment to see how large gatherings spread COVID-19

 People wearing protective face masks take part in a transmission risk assessment study at an indoor arena on Aug. 22, 2020 in Leipzig, Germany.

LEIPZIG — Around 1,500 volunteers equipped with face masks, hand disinfectant and tracking gadgets attended an indoor concert in Germany on Saturday as part of a study to simulate how the novel coronavirus spreads in large gatherings.

As part of the so-called Restart19 study, researchers from the University Medical Center in Halle want to find out how cultural and sporting events can safely take place without posing a risk to the population.

Researchers asked participants to regularly disinfect their hands using the fluorescent sanitiser so scientists can identify – with the help of ultra-violet light – which surfaces are touched frequently and pose a risk for spreading the virus.

Read more.

Bigger class could mean up to five times the COVID-19 infections, Canadian study suggests

 Students at a Berlin high school practise hand disinfection on Aug. 10, 2020. Researchers have explored how different combination of class sizes and time in class could affect potential COVID-19 outbreaks.

Just how great a risk or not COVID-19 is in classrooms has an entire nation slightly unnerved, so mathematician Chris Bauch and his collaborators decided to plug some scenarios into a model.

Their projections? Class sizes of the magnitude many provinces are allowing could lead to outbreaks lasting weeks or even months.

Policy makers planning for elementary school class sizes of 30 kids or more “need to immediately reconfigure their school opening plans” and switch to hybrid models of part in-person, part online, said Bauch, a professor of mathematics at Waterloo University.

Read more.

Security guard dies four months after being run over outside Quebec Walmart

 Caution tape hangs at the entrance of a temporarily closed Walmart store

A security guard in Quebec died Thursday after allegedly being hit by the car of a Walmart customer who was enraged by COVID-19 safety measurements at the store.

Philippe Jean, 35, had been in a critical condition after the impact, and was in an induced coma for almost four months until he passed away, his brother, Guillaume Jean, confirmed to Radio Canada.

The incident happened only a few days after Jean joined the store’s security team. The 25-year-old suspect in the case, Nacime Kouddar, has been charged with hit and run, armed assault and assault by a vehicle causing bodily harm.

Read more.

‘This shouldn’t have happened’: Father blames son’s death on COVID-19 restrictions

 Aaron Ogden is shown in this undated image supplied by his family.

Aaron Ogden died in a Calgary hospital last Saturday after collapsing on a run.

His father, Mark, was able to be by his son’s side. He said a major blood clot had formed around a stent placed in his son’s aorta. The stent was necessary after he survived a serious highway accident on his way to work last year.

Ogden said while in hospital before his death, his son told him he was supposed to go for a CT scan in June while still living in Saskatchewan near Yorkton.

It was a routine checkup on the stent, but the appointment was postponed because of restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic and never rescheduled.

Aaron’s father believes the missed appointment led to his son’s death.

“People’s lives are being lost,” he said. “These COVID rules are way too far.”

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Edmonton ICU doctor says his unit is ‘full to the brim,’ spike partly due to COVID-19

 An Edmonton intensive care doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital says his unit is “full to the brim” because of patients with COVID-19 in addition to an increase in trauma patients and more surgeries.

An Edmonton intensive care doctor says his unit is “full to the brim” because of patients with COVID-19 in addition to an increase in trauma patients and more surgeries.

As Edmonton continues to be a COVID-19 hotspot with 561 cases or approximately 54.9 active cases per 100,000 people, Dr. Darren Markland, who works at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, took to social media this week to caution people to continue following public health guidelines and stay safe as the pandemic stretches on.

“You may be tired of #COVID19, but it is not tired of you. Our ICU is full to the brim. And we can’t stop running,” he said in a series of tweets on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Read more.

Protest against government’s school plan draws UCP minister out of Edmonton office

 Demonstrators protesting the government’s return-to-class plan speak with MLA Kaycee Madu outside his Edmonton office on Friday.

Demanding more funding and safety measures for students returning to class across the province in the fall, about 30 protestors gathered outside Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu’s office Friday.

It was one of 27 small rallies organized on social media across Alberta Friday, 

including at offices of Health Minister Tyler Shandro

 in Calgary-Acadia and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in Red Deer-North.

Madu thanked the protestors, and said expressing their opinions was “one of the things that makes our country great.”

Read more.

COVID-19 by the numbers

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of the morning of Saturday, Aug. 22:

  • There are 124,585 confirmed cases in Canada, including 9,065 deaths and 110,842 resolved.
  • Quebec: 61,599 confirmed (including 5,733 deaths, 54,576 resolved)
  • Ontario: 41,287 confirmed (including 2,797 deaths, 37,487 resolved)
  • Alberta: 12,748 confirmed (including 230 deaths, 11,374 resolved)
  • British Columbia: 4,915 confirmed (including 202 deaths, 3,889 resolved)
  • Saskatchewan: 1,595 confirmed (including 22 deaths, 1,439 resolved)
  • Nova Scotia: 1,078 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,008 resolved)
  • Manitoba: 830 confirmed (including 12 deaths, 553 resolved)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)
  • New Brunswick: 188 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 178 resolved)
  • Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 40 resolved)
  • Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)
  • Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
  • Nunavut: No confirmed cases

— The Canadian Press 

Ottawa paid $37M to quarantine international arrivals who lacked a proper plan

 An Air Tahiti flight taxis at Vancouver International Airport recently.

The federal government has been footing for arrivals to Canada who have no place to quarantine during the pandemic, expenses that added up to $37 million in accommodation and food over the past four months.

Tens of thousands of travellers continue to arrive by air and by land, according to Canada Border Services Agency, and must quarantine for 14 days.

If they do not have a suitable plan for quarantine at home, friends, family or in paid accommodation, CBSA will refer them to the health agency “for further assessment,” said the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Between April 1 and Aug. 15, 2,306 travellers have been put up at undisclosed hotels in several cities, including Metro Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Fredericton.

Read more.


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.

Read more



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 on Friday.

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.

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.

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