Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Coronavirus daily briefing – April 8: Calgary testing changes, modelling and the Easter bunny

Calgarians will have more access to coronavirus testing, as the number of cases in the city continues to significantly outpace other areas of Alberta.

In Wednesday’s daily briefing, 50 new cases of COVID-19 were announced, bringing the provincial total to 1423. Three more Albertans, including another at the McKenzie Towne long term care centre, died in the past 24 hours. The three deaths were all in the Calgary Zone. It brings the provincial total to 29.

Forty-four people are currently in hospital, with 16 people in intensive care. Of the 1,423 cases, it’s suspected that 206 are community acquired.

There is a total of 518 confirmed recovered cases.

“I want to reiterate that the best way to contain this outbreak is by all of us staying home as much as possible, and thereby limiting our chances of catching the virus,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

New Calgary coronavirus testing protocol

Right now, provincial numbers show that Calgary has more than double the number of cases of the nearest area – Edmonton.  Calgary has 860 cases, while Edmonton has 368. The next closest is the North Zone, with 95 cases.

In the past, Dr. Hinshaw has said that Calgary likely had more cases because of a higher number of international travellers arriving in the city from a variety of destinations.

Given the much higher rate of infection in the Calgary Zone, Dr. Hinshaw said they’re establishing new testing protocols that will open the testing to anyone exhibiting the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath

Dr. Hinshaw said they’re also opening testing across the province to essential service workers who have the same symptoms.  Further, anyone with these symptoms, who is living with someone 65 years or older, is also eligible for testing.

“I want to emphasize we continue to expect anyone who is ill to remain home for at least 10 days from the start of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve whichever is longer,” she said.

Modelling the Alberta coronavirus

As first described in a televised address by Premier Jason Kenney on Tuesday night, the province’s ‘probable’ projections would see 800,000 Albertans infected by the end of the summer months.

This includes all asymptomatic cases and those with mild symptoms, including those that aren’t detected. They said right now models suggest that for every case that is confirmed, at least one or two others are infected.

The peak is expected in mid-May. The full modelling slide presentation is available here.

Dr. Hinshaw said the modelling is done with the best-known data at the time the model is put together. They will continue to base it on emerging Alberta data.

“The most important factor in how big or small the impact of COVID-19 is in this province is the behavior of each and every one of us,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

“This cannot be stressed enough. If Albertans stopped following public health restrictions and guidelines, we can expect to experience a higher impact than the data currently suggests.”

City of Calgary mid-week briefing

First off, Mayor Naheed Nenshi declared that the Easter Bunny is an essential worker/service.

“The jury’s still out on the tooth fairy,” he said at Wednesday’s briefing.

Both Mayor Nenshi and Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Tom Sampson reiterated the message about it being in Calgarians’ hands how this coronavirus peak unfolds.

“I know some of the numbers were frightening. They were sobering. But the numbers don’t lie,” Chief Sampson said.

“However, having said that, this thing is in our hands.”

Sampson took specific issue with those leaving rubber gloves and masks around the city, in parking lots and around retail locations.

“You’ve chosen to wear them into the store or whatever public environment you’ve got, but you’re throwing them on the ground,” said Sampson.

“I’m sorry. I’m not sure what you’re thinking. Leaving them there is just not the right thing to do.”

Both Nenshi and Sampson also talked about the importance of limiting close family gatherings this Easter weekend.

“It is not a good idea to invite your family over for dinner this weekend. Even if everyone is self-isolating, even if no one shows symptoms,” said Nenshi.

City notes

  • Check Calgary.ca/collection for changes to your garbage collection
  • All Calgary ParkPlus zones have a 30-minute grace period so you can continue to pick up your groceries, take-out food or other goods from local businesses without having to pay for parking.