COVID-19 Update: Calgary Transit lifts seating restrictions | Quebec parents sue over back-to-school plan | CFL spikes 2020 season

Scenes from in and around 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

  • A lawyer representing a group of Quebec parents says he’s moving forward with a legal challenge aimed at forcing the province to offer remote learning for families who don’t want their children returning to classrooms this fall.
  • Starting today, Calgary Transit is lifting its COVID-19 related seating restrictions, returning to full seated capacity on buses and CTrains.
  • Sixty-seven days after it was supposed to kick off, the Canadian Football League season has been cancelled.
  • Alberta is running a pilot on “pool testing” in order to expand testing capacity for COVID-19.
  • With little information available, parents are anxious about back-to-school decisions.
  • The McDonald’s restaurant at 8235 Bowridge Cres. N.W. has temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Stats Canada is reporting hundreds more deaths than usual since the start of the pandemic, and more than can be attributed to coronavirus.
  • Alberta reported 84 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death on Friday. There are 1,036 active cases in the province.
  • Two new locations in Calgary were added to Alberta Health’s outbreak list: the Fledglings Educare Centre and Cargill Case Ready.
  • The Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District are introducing mask policies to include all students, including grades K-3.
  • The U.S. border closure has been extended to Sept. 21.
  • The Calgary International Beer Festival has been postponed until 2021.

11:48 a.m.

Lawsuit to challenge Quebec back-to-school plan requiring in-person attendance

MONTREAL — A lawyer representing a group of Quebec parents says he’s moving forward with a legal challenge aimed at forcing the province to offer remote learning for families who don’t want their children returning to classrooms this fall.

Julius Grey said today the motion he’ll file in Quebec Superior Court later this week or next Monday will argue that requiring children to attend classes in person violates their parents’ charter rights to make decisions that affect life and security.

Read more.

10:30 a.m.

CFL spikes 2020 season after Ottawa rejects request for loan

 Calgary’s McMahon Stadium sits empty on May 20, 2020.

The league had hoped to stage a six-game season in a bubble environment in Winnipeg, starting in October, but governors wanted federal government funding to make it happen.

Read more.

7:45 a.m.

Calgary Transit ends seating restrictions on buses, CTrains

 Passengers on a Calgary CTrain on July 22, 2020. It is now mandatory to wear a mask on CTrains and buses.

Starting today,

Calgary Transit

is lifting its COVID-19 related seating restrictions, returning to full seated capacity on buses and CTrains.

On its COVID-19 page, Calgary Transit says the city’s mandatory order to wear face masks “helps keep customers safe when they cannot keep distance between each other.”

Calgary Transit says it has implemented a number of measures to control the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • A touchless payment system (My Fare) allowing riders to buy and display fares on their smartphones.
  • While supplies last, single-use masks will be handed out at stations throughout the city on weekday mornings between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
  • Daily cleaning of facilities and vehicles, including grab rails, stanchions, steering wheels and buttons with “hospital-grade disinfectant.”

To prevent large gatherings, several stations will remain closed, including SAIT/Jubilee, Victoria Park/Stampede, Erlton, Heritage, Southland and Anderson. Bus loop shelters at Chinook and Southland are closed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Transit peace officers will step up patrols, asking people without fare to leave the train and purchase a fare before catching the next train.


COVID-19 by the numbers across Canada

 People wear face masks as they wait in line at Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020.

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of Monday, Aug. 17:

  • There are 122,087 total cases in Canada (including 15 presumptive), 9,026 deaths and 108,484 resolved.
  • Quebec: 61,151 confirmed (including 5,720 deaths, 53,847 resolved)
  • Ontario: 40,646 confirmed (including 2,789 deaths, 36,953 resolved)
  • Alberta: 12,053 confirmed (including 221 deaths, 10,796 resolved)
  • British Columbia: 4,358 confirmed (including 196 deaths, 3,533 resolved)
  • Saskatchewan: 1,580 confirmed (including 22 deaths, 1,365 resolved)
  • Nova Scotia: 1,074 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,007 resolved)
  • Manitoba: 682 confirmed (including 9 deaths, 483 resolved), 15 presumptive
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 263 resolved)
  • New Brunswick: 186 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 169 resolved)
  • Prince Edward Island: 41 confirmed (including 36 resolved)
  • Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 14 resolved)
  • Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)
  • Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
  • Nunavut: No confirmed cases


Alberta pilots ‘pool testing’ to expand COVID-19 testing capacity

 People line up to be tested for COVID-19 at the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in Calgary on July 9.

Pooled tests mix biological samples from several people before testing. If the combined sample tests negative for the novel coronavirus, lab officials consider all samples involved to be negative. If the combined sample tests positive, however, all individual samples are tested alone to determine which sample or samples are positive.

“Pooling samples is an effective approach for performing a large number of tests while using fewer laboratory supplies and staff,” said AHS spokesperson James Wood in a statement.

“If successful, (AHS) will look to expand this practice over the coming weeks to increase capacity.”

Read more



Parents anxious over back-to-school decisions with little information

 Jessica Cuillerier, with her two boys, says she’s worried about whether she should send them back to the Catholic school district classrooms this fall.

Cuillerier is outraged over an Aug. 21 deadline set by the Calgary Catholic School District asking parents to either register for online-only schooling or in-person classes.

Parents at the Calgary Board of Education are facing the same decision, with a deadline of Aug. 24. Once parents choose, they cannot change their mind until the new year.

But many schools won’t be able to tell parents how large their children’s class sizes will be until the online registration process is complete.

“So many parents I have spoken to are feeling really frustrated at the lack of information,” Cuillerier added.

“It is in no way realistic to ask parents to decide something this important when they have no idea what the plans are for their school.”

Read more



Indeterminate test results spur COVID-19 confusion

 People line up to be tested for COVID-19 at the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in Calgary on July 17.

Breanna Excell decided to go get a COVID-19 test last week, like hundreds of thousands of Albertans before her. A client at her work had developed symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus. Even though she was asymptomatic, she decided to get tested for peace of mind.

But unlike most Albertans who get tested for COVID-19, Excell’s test result wasn’t a simple positive or negative.

“I got a phone call a couple days later from a person, and I thought, ‘Am I positive?’ But she just said I was ‘indeterminate,’ which I didn’t even know was a possibility,” Excell said.

She was told that since she was asymptomatic, she didn’t need to self-isolate, but that she could go get tested again.

But on Saturday, Excell received a second call, this time from the Alberta Health Services Infectious Disease Clinic, giving her the indeterminate diagnosis once more and telling her that getting retested was now a strong recommendation.

Read more



Moe says efforts to curb coronavirus among Hutterites is working, despite new cases

 Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in Regina on June 15.

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says most of the new COVID-19 cases reported in the province over the past few days are from Hutterite communities, but he suggests there’s reason for optimism.

Moe says in a tweet Sunday that of the 97 new cases reported over the previous four days, 87 are from Hutterite communities.

But the same time, Moe tweeted that many of the Hutterite communities with earlier outbreaks are now down to almost no active cases, so he says the efforts of those communities working closely with the province’s health authority are working.

Read more



U.S. coronavirus death toll hits 170,000 ahead of fall flu season

 Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 31.

The United States surpassed 170,000 coronavirus deaths on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally, as health officials express concerns over COVID-19 complicating the fall flu season.

Deaths rose by 483 on Sunday, with Florida, Texas and Louisiana, leading the rise in fatalities.

The United States has at least 5.4 million confirmed cases in total of the novel coronavirus, the highest in the world and likely an undercount as the country still has not ramped up testing to the recommended levels. Cases are falling in most states except for Hawaii, South Dakota and Illinois.

Read more



COVID in kids: Infections rise in the U.S. as schools reopen

 A girl wears a face mask as students sit in a classroom of the Petri primary school in Dortmund, western Germany, on June 15.

School closures and other public health measures may have contributed to initially low rates of coronavirus infections in children early in the pandemic, according to the CDC.

“This may explain the low incidence in children compared with adults,” the agency said in its guidance. “Comparing trends in pediatric infections before and after the return to in-person school and other activities may provide additional understanding about infections in children.”

Children between 5 and 17 years old also test positive for the coronavirus at higher rates than any other age group, according to CDC data, with positivity rates exceeding 10 percent in public and private lab tests.

Read more



Quebecers are concerned about students’ success at school, survey suggests

 A school bus arrived carrying one student as schools outside the greater Montreal region began to reopen on May 11, 2020.

MONTREAL — Two-thirds of Quebecers surveyed are concerned about the educational success of their children during the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey for a major teachers’ union suggests.

Ninety per cent of respondents also believe that students with learning difficulties will be most penalized by the pandemic, with 92 per cent believing more resources should be dedicated to helping these students.

But there’s also concerns for students in general: 66 per cent were “very or somewhat worried” about the impact of the pandemic on student success, compared to five per cent who said they were not worried at all.

Read more



Bowness McDonald’s closed after positive COVID-19 test

A positive COVID-19 test in a staff member means the McDonald’s restaurant at 8235 Bowridge Crescent N.W. will temporarily close for a third-party sanitation.

The employee reported testing positive Saturday. They had last worked a shift in the Bowness restaurant Aug. 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those who may have been in the restaurant during that time are advised to contact Alberta Health Services for further instruction.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to immediately shut down the restaurant for a thorough cleaning and sanitization by a certified third party,” McDonald’s Canada said in a release.

Read more



Italy closes nightclubs as coronavirus cases rise among young

 Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza in Rome, Italy, on Feb. 25, 2020.

ROME — Italy is to shut discos and clubs and make it compulsory to wear a mask outdoors in some areas during the night-time in the first reimposition of restrictions as cases of coronavirus pick up across the country, especially among younger people.

New cases in the past week in Italy, the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus, were more than double those registered three weeks ago and the median age of people contracting the virus has dropped below 40, data showed.

The new rules will start on Monday – two days after an Italian holiday when many young Italians go out dancing – and will run until early September.

Read more



French new COVID-19 cases above 3,000 for second day

 Pedestrians wearing face masks walk alongside the Seine River in Paris on Aug. 15.

PARIS — The French Health Ministry on Sunday reported 3,015 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the second day in a row in which new cases have surpassed the 3,000 mark.

However, the daily count was below the 3,310 cases reported on Saturday, when a new post-lockdown high was reached, the ministry’s data showed.

– Reuters

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