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No additional restrictions as Hinshaw announces 644 new cases of COVID-19, 7 new deaths

Click to play video 'Call from Alberta doctors for sharper lockdown or ‘circuit-breaker’' Call from Alberta doctors for sharper lockdown or ‘circuit-breaker’
The provincial government is not imposing a lockdown or mandatory measures yet, despite a record number of COVID-19 cases. But going with voluntary recommendations instead of rules is raising concerns with doctors. Lisa MacGregor reports. – Nov 9, 2020

On Monday, provincial officials said Alberta had added 644 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the active number to 7,965. Seven additional people in the province have also died of the disease.

“I — like many others — am extremely concerned by the spread that we are seeing,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said at a provincial update.

Click to play video 'Hinshaw calls vaccine announcement ‘encouraging’ but warns it is still months away' Hinshaw calls vaccine announcement ‘encouraging’ but warns it is still months away
Hinshaw calls vaccine announcement ‘encouraging’ but warns it is still months away – Nov 9, 2020

However, Hinshaw did not announce any additional restrictions amid rising case numbers and a record-breaking weekend. 

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“As I’ve said before, when we’re looking at all of our options, we know there is no one perfect way to manage our COVID-19 experience,” Hinshaw said.

“We need to look at all options on the table… including what we’re doing now, which is giving Albertans every opportunity to come alongside and be a part of the solution before we impose restrictions.”

Click to play video '‘We really have to work together with Albertans’: Hinshaw discusses mandatory restrictions' ‘We really have to work together with Albertans’: Hinshaw discusses mandatory restrictions
‘We really have to work together with Albertans’: Hinshaw discusses mandatory restrictions – Nov 9, 2020

She added it generally takes about one to two weeks for measures, such as Friday’s request from the province for those in Calgary and Edmonton to not host gatherings at their homes, to see impacts on case numbers.

“We are assessing measures closely. If needed, we do not need to wait 14 days before recommending additional measures,” she said, adding case numbers need to be brought down to less than 100 new per day in Calgary and Edmonton.

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Click to play video 'Hinshaw suggests people isolated alone ‘go for a walk’ or ‘small social gatherings’' Hinshaw suggests people isolated alone ‘go for a walk’ or ‘small social gatherings’
Hinshaw suggests people isolated alone ‘go for a walk’ or ‘small social gatherings’ – Nov 9, 2020

In the last five days alone, there have been 3,700 new cases diagnosed in Alberta.

Calgary zone now has 3,345 active cases — an additional 459 since zone numbers were last updated Friday. After lagging behind Edmonton for weeks, that zone has seen a sharp uptick in cases recently. The Edmonton zone sits at 3,175 cases, which is 356 more than Friday.

Hinshaw also said the the idea of a “circuit-breaker” shutdown, where restrictions are added for a short time frame, has been discussed for Alberta but is not yet in place. B.C. announced “circuit-breaker” type restrictions over the weekend that specifically target the Lower Mainland.

Read more: ‘Canary in the coal mine’: Alberta doctors sound alarm on rising COVID-19 cases

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“Every action that we take has advantages and disadvantages,” Hinshaw said. “Every choice for managing this pandemic comes with downsides. This is not something that we can necessarily wait a full two weeks between taking one step and then considering others.

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“We’re having active discussions about multiple options.”

Click to play video 'COVID-19: Hinshaw discusses ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown idea' COVID-19: Hinshaw discusses ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown idea
COVID-19: Hinshaw discusses ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown idea – Nov 9, 2020

Nearly 80 per cent of deaths since Oct. 26 were in care homes

On Monday, the province confirmed another seven deaths related to COVID-19 in Alberta. Six of those were in the Edmonton zone and one was in the Calgary zone. All but one of the seven deaths were linked to outbreaks at continuing care centres.

Read more: Alberta records 727 cases of COVID-19 Sunday, 6 deaths as officials push for reduced social circles

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In the Edmonton zone, those in care who died were a woman in her 80s at Covenant Care Chateau Vitaline, a woman in her 90s at the Good Samaritan Pembina Village, a woman in her 60s at the Edmonton General Care Centre, a man in his 70s at Laurel Heights Retirement Residence, and a woman in her 90s at the South Terrace Continuing Care Centre.

A man in his 80s in Edmonton zone who was not in care also died.

Click to play video 'COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions reach all-time high in Alberta' COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions reach all-time high in Alberta
COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions reach all-time high in Alberta – Nov 9, 2020

In Calgary zone, a woman in her 90s at the Extendicare Cedars Villa outbreak passed away.

The province said that one previously reported death has now been confirmed as not being linked to the virus, so the told number of deaths in Alberta has increased by six to 369.

Since the Oct. 26 update from the province, which included data from the weekend before, there have been 69 COVID-19 related deaths in Alberta. Fifty-four of those — or 78 per cent —  were in long-term care facilities.

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There are now 192 people in hospital, with 39 in intensive care.

Read more: ‘Canary in the coal mine’: Alberta doctors sound alarm on rising COVID-19 cases

As for schools, there are now active alerts or outbreaks at 285 schools — or 12 per cent of schools in the province.

“Currently these schools have 911 active cases in total,” Hinshaw said. “So far, in-school transmission has likely occurred in 123 schools. Of these, about half have had only one new case occur as a result.”

She also said two sites supporting vulnerable people in Calgary had COVID-19 situations, with 11 cases at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, two at Alpha House, and five cases at an Alpha House-run transitional home.

Click to play video 'Call from Alberta doctors for sharper lockdown or ‘circuit-breaker’' Call from Alberta doctors for sharper lockdown or ‘circuit-breaker’
Call from Alberta doctors for sharper lockdown or ‘circuit-breaker’ – Nov 9, 2020

Calgary’s mayor says lockdown would be provincial decision

On Monday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who had warned last week that the COVID-19 numbers were “extremely troubling” and were set to reach 1,000 per day in the province, said he hopes Albertans listen to the warnings from officials ahead of the holidays.

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“What [Premier Kenney] said was you can’t have anybody at your house anymore. Don’t invite people over, and so that’s a pretty big change,” Nenshi said.

“Ultimately, your cohort has just shrunk within your home.”

Nenshi added that the province would ultimately be the power that decides if there is a second lockdown-style period in Alberta.

Click to play video 'Alberta records 644 new cases of COVID-19, 7 new deaths on Monday' Alberta records 644 new cases of COVID-19, 7 new deaths on Monday
Alberta records 644 new cases of COVID-19, 7 new deaths on Monday – Nov 9, 2020

“The city actually does not have a ton of power here,” he said. “Even if we were to declare another state of local emergency — we couldn’t do a lockdown with our state of local emergency, we need the part of the province to be on board with that.

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“I’m asking people to be disciplined for a little while longer. Discipline is the best vaccine. And we have to be able to work on these things and we have to be able to do them together to look after one another.”

Marking Remembrance Day and Dawali

Hinshaw added during her update Monday she hopes Albertans respect gathering limits or participate virtually as Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) and Dawali (Nov. 14) are set to be marked this week.

Click to play video 'Hinshaw says it is ‘essential’ to consider COVID-19 in any Diwali celebration or event' Hinshaw says it is ‘essential’ to consider COVID-19 in any Diwali celebration or event
Hinshaw says it is ‘essential’ to consider COVID-19 in any Diwali celebration or event – Nov 9, 2020

“If any of us are feeling unwell, we need to stay home and recognize this day privately. I know this is a sacrifice, but this is an important one,” she said.

“It is essential that we consider COVID-19 when planning and attending any events.

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“If you are in Edmonton or Calgary, please do not plan to host anyone at your home who does not live with you, and please do not attend a gathering at a home where you do not live.”

Click to play video 'Hinshaw asking Albertans to commemorate Remembrance Day safely amid COVID-19' Hinshaw asking Albertans to commemorate Remembrance Day safely amid COVID-19
Hinshaw asking Albertans to commemorate Remembrance Day safely amid COVID-19 – Nov 9, 2020