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Alberta

New COVID-19 modelling concludes the most likely scenario is much lower than former numbers

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From the Province of Alberta

COVID-19 modelling data update

Revised data show protective measures and the efforts of Albertans are making a critical difference in our fight against COVID-19.

The Government of Alberta has introduced a new “low” modelling scenario estimating 298 Albertans will require hospitalization and 95 will require critical care when the virus reaches its peak. If current trends continue, this scenario will become the most likely scenario for Alberta.

Updated modelling scenarios continue to estimate that Alberta’s outbreak will reach its peak in late May. However, the number of Albertans hospitalized at the peak of the virus is predicted to be lower than originally estimated. This reflects Alberta’s experience over the past few weeks and the proportion of cases actually entering hospital and intensive care units.

“The data show us that our efforts to lower the peak of the virus are working, but we must remain vigilant. We continue to refine our modelling in order to ensure our health-care system is prepared. While we are still a ways off from returning to our normal way of life, our government is working around the clock on a phased approach to relaunch our economy safely. It is essential Albertans continue to exercise common sense and follow public health guidance so we can get the economy moving again as quickly as possible.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

As a result of aggressive public health measures put in place, the probable scenario now estimates 596 people in Alberta will require hospitalization, with 190 requiring critical care on the days when the virus reaches its peak. With Alberta’s younger-than-average population and our aggressive testing measures, which are able to catch cases with less severe symptoms, Alberta Health’s new “low” scenario is fortunately becoming our most realistic.

Alberta Health has scaled up the capacity of the province’s health-care system in order to ensure it is prepared to support patients at the peak of the pandemic in any scenario.

Existing public health measures remain in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

 Quick facts

  • The model uses several key assumptions, including:
    • not all cases are detected
    • transmission is more common within an age group, rather than between age groups
    • there is no asymptomatic transmission
    • people are infectious for five to 10 days
    • all ICU patients require ventilation
    • overall, nine per cent of cases are hospitalized and two per cent require ICU, but this varies significantly by age. The low scenario assumes 4.5 per cent of cases are hospitalized and one per cent require ICU, which aligns with actual results.
  • The most important measure Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene.
  • This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, and disposing of tissues appropriately.
  • Any individual exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath, is eligible for testing. People can access testing by completing the COVID-19 self-assessment online. A separate self-assessment tool is available for health-care and shelter workers, enforcement and first responders. After completing the form, there is no need to call 811.

#RedDeerStrong – Local business pivots from fire resistant workwear to antimicrobial face masks

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Together at last, Canadian women’s hockey team reunites after pandemic separation

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CALGARY — What Marie-Philip Poulin looks forward to the most at the Canadian women’s hockey team camp is simply lining up for drills and seeing her teammates’ faces. 

It’s been 10 months since the national women’s hockey team was on the ice together. 

Hockey Canada obtained the necessary exemptions from Alberta Health to hold a 14-day camp in Calgary amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poulin, Canada’s captain, has missed the competition and camaraderie desperately.

“It means a lot. It’s been a long time coming,” said the 29-year-old forward from Beauceville Que. 

“Just being back here as a group in Calgary, it’s going to be awesome just to get back on the ice and really connect.”

All players and staff were told to quarantine for seven days and get tested for the virus before heading to Calgary. 

Of the 47 players invited, 35 arrived Sunday to quarantine in their hotel rooms and be tested four times over five days.

Barring positive tests, the players were scheduled to start skating in groups of three Tuesday before larger groups hit the ice Thursday. Three intrasquad games are planned.

“These women want the opportunity to just compete a little bit against each other,” head coach Troy Ryan said. “That’s one of the biggest things we’re going to be able to provide them at this camp.

“It brings a little bit of normal life back to them. Although it looks totally different, I think it kind of gives them a little bit of hope.”

The dozen invitees not in Calgary were classified as “unable to attend”, which ranges from injury, college commitments and COVID exposure, but they’ll participate in virtual meetings and activities, said Hockey Canada director of women’s national teams Gina Kingsbury.

“We’re seeing everyone on the screen. We just won’t see everyone on the ice,” Kingsbury said.

Canada’s last international game was Feb. 8, 2020, to cap a five-game Rivalry Series against the United States. 

At a short camp in Toronto later that month, Hockey Canada finalized the roster for the women’s world championship, but the tournament in Nova Scotia was cancelled and rescheduled to April 7-17, 2021.

Canada’s international games in the 23 months since finishing third in the 2019 world championship in Finland has been limited to seven games against the U.S.

The 2019 Four Nations Cup in Sweden was cancelled because of a dispute between the host women’s team and its own federation.

Women’s professional hockey was in transition when the pandemic hit. 

The majority of the Canadian women’s team belongs to the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) which has yet to announce any showcase tournaments this winter.

So a perfect storm of circumstances has Canada’s top female hockey players sorely lacking in meaningful games.

Women in the national team pool train in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary hubs under varying restrictions and have skills coaches employed by Hockey Canada.

Poulin’s on-ice environment in Montreal has ranged from a limit of three players on the ice to larger groups with everyone wearing masks while they skate.

“It’s been a little difficult,” Poulin acknowledged. “It’s been challenging, but any time we had a chance to jump on the ice as a group, we took advantage and really pushed each other.

Beyond camp is continued uncertainty over if and when the women’s world championship will happen. 

Hockey Canada’s operation of the national junior men’s team and world under-20 tournament that concluded Jan. 5 in Edmonton paved a path for this women’s camp and potentially the world championship to go ahead in a pandemic.

“I hear from Hockey Canada the commitment is there,” Kingsbury said. “If one country can do it’s definitely us and we’ve shown that with world juniors. 

“It’s just a matter of when in the year that looks like. I’m confident it will happen in the spring. It might be a few weeks later or a month later.”

The Calgary’ camp, which concludes Jan. 30, is normally held in September. Ryan wants the players to focus on what they have and not what they’re missing.

“There’s no way we would have been able to do this camp a few months ago, so it’s a step in the right direction for sure,” he said.

“All the things that had to be done to make this camp possible, if you’re not someone that steps back from that and actually appreciates it, I’m not sure that’s the type of person we’re going to have success with.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Coal policy decisions belong with politicians, not courts, Alberta lawyer argues

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CALGARY — An Alberta government lawyer says decisions about environmental policy should be made by elected officials, not the courts.

Melissa Burkett is speaking at a court hearing that is to decide whether a request for a judicial review into Alberta’s decision to revoke a policy protecting the Rocky Mountains from coal mining can proceed. 

She says the decision revoked a policy, not a law or a regulation, and was entirely within the responsibility of Energy Minister Sonya Savage.

She says when the policy was first adopted in 1976 it anticipated a thorough regulatory process, which now exists in the province. 

Burkett argues that because the Alberta Energy Regulator would review any mine application, revoking the coal policy made little difference. 

Savage revoked the policy last May without any public consultation, which area ranchers and First Nations say violated laws that have incorporated its guidelines. 

The decision has been widely criticized, with petitions opposing it gathering more than 100,000 signatures.  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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