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Alberta

Half of Red Deer COVID-19 cases recovered. Central Alberta COVID death occurred in Camrose (April 6 Update)

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Red Deer COVID-19 Map

Information from covid19stats.alberta.ca

On Monday, April 6 the province made some interesting changes and additions of the provincial COVID-19 stats website.

Red Deer is no longer separated into 3 quadrants.  But the report now indicates how many cases are active and how many are recovered.

Across Central Alberta there are 66 cases.

  • Red Deer City – 25 cases – 13 active – 12 recovered
  • Red Deer County – 13 cases – 11 active – 2 recovered
  • Wetaskiwin City – 7 cases – 3 active – 4 recovered
  • Mountain View County – 5 cases – 4 active – 1 recovered
  • Lacombe County – 4 cases – 1 active – 3 recovered
  • Lacombe City – 2 cases – 0 active – 2 recovered
  • Camrose City – 2 cases – 0 active – 1 recovered – 1 death
  • Beaver County – 2 cases – 2 active
  • Camrose County – 1 case – 1 recovered
  • Windburn County – 1 case – 1 recovered
  • Vermilion River County – 1 case – 1 recovered
  • Ponoka County – 1 case – 1 active
  • Stettler County – 1 case – 1 active
  • Kneehill County – 1 case – 1 active
  • Clearwater County – 1 case – 1 active

 

 

In this graph you can see that Central and Southern Alberta zones have been very fortunate in the amount of cases per 100,000

This graph makes it look like all the regions in Alberta “might” be flattening the curve.  Experts say it takes up to 5 days in a row to indicate this trend.  It currently looks promising.

This graph compares the age categories in both actual number of cases, and as a rate per 100,000 people in each category.

Here are the total numbers for the province.  In recent days the percentage of cases in Central Alberta has dropped from 8 to 5.

From the Province of Alberta

Latest updates

  • A total of 953 cases are laboratory confirmed and 395 are probable cases (symptomatic close contacts of laboratory confirmed cases). Laboratory positivity rates remain consistent at two per cent.
  • Cases have been identified in all zones across the province:
    • 817 cases in the Calgary zone
    • 351 cases in the Edmonton zone
    • 89 cases in the North zone
    • 66 cases in the Central zone
    • 22 cases in the South zone
    • Three cases in zones yet to be confirmed
  • Of these cases, there are currently 40 people in hospital, 16 of whom have been admitted to intensive care units (ICU).
  • Of the 1,348 total cases, 204 are suspected of being community acquired.
  • There are now a total of 361 confirmed recovered cases.
  • One additional death has been reported in the Calgary zone. There have been 15 deaths in the Calgary zone, four in the Edmonton zone, four in the North zone, and one in the Central zone.
  • Strong outbreak measures have been put in place at continuing care facilities. To date, 112 cases have been confirmed at these facilities.
  • There have been 64,183 people tested for COVID-19 and a total of 65,914 tests performed by the lab. There have been 821 tests completed in the last 24 hours.
  • Aggregate data, showing cases by age range and zone, as well as by local geographic areas, is available online at alberta.ca/covid19statistics.
  • All Albertans need to work together to help prevent the spread and overcome COVID-19.
  • Restrictions remain in place for all gatherings and close-contact businesses, dine-in restaurants and non-essential retail services. A full list of restrictions is available online.
  • Alberta Health Services (AHS) has announced further restrictions for visitors to Alberta hospitals.
  • AHS has expanded its testing criteria for COVID-19 to include symptomatic individuals in the following roles or age groups:
    • Group home and shelter workers
    • First responders, including firefighters
    • Those involved in COVID-19 enforcement, including police, peace officers, bylaw officers, environmental health officers, and Fish and Wildlife officers
    • Correctional facility staff, working in either a provincial or federal facility
    • Starting April 7, individuals over the age of 65
  • Anyone among these groups is urged to use the AHS online assessment tool for health-care workers, enforcement and first responders.
  • Medical masks and respirators must be kept for health-care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients. Those who choose to wear a non-medical face mask should:
    • continue to follow all other public health guidance (staying two metres away from others, wash hands regularly, stay home when sick)
    • wash their hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to practising good hand hygiene while wearing it)
    • ensure it fits well (non-gaping)
    • not share it with others
    • avoid touching the mask while wearing it
    • change masks as soon they get damp or soiled
  • As Albertans look forward to the upcoming holiday weekend, they are being reminded to:
    • avoid gatherings outside of their immediate household
    • find ways to connect while being physically separated
    • worship in a way that does not put people at risk, including participating in virtual or live-streamed religious celebrations

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Alberta minister says patience running short for federal energy industry aid

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

Hydrogen’s future remains murky despite home heating projects in Alberta and Ontario

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CALGARY — It seems like a no-brainer to use clean-burning hydrogen to offset the environmental negatives of natural gas for warming homes, but pilot projects to do just that starting next year illustrate nothing is simple about this trendy new energy source.

As companies consider ways to commercialize hydrogen as a cleaner alternative fuel and projects advance in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., and Markham, Ont., most observers concede it will take time and government support to overcome its cost competitiveness issues and lack of infrastructure.

“All hydrogen is not created equal,” says Tahra Jutt, director of the clean economy program for B.C. with environmental think tank The Pembina Institute and co-author of a hydrogen primer published in July.

“If you blend the lowest carbon hydrogen, you’re going to get a much better outcome in terms of climate benefit.”

Hydrogen has many advantages as an energy source. When it burns it leaves only water behind — no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. It can be used for high-energy-intensity applications such as trucking, shipping and steelmaking. It can be compressed for energy storage and transportation. It’s non-toxic and dissipates quickly when released.

But there are disadvantages, too. Its low ignition temperature and nearly invisible flame when burning pose potential safety issues. Concentrated hydrogen can damage metal, requiring enhanced protection for pipelines. 

The act of creating hydrogen requires energy, whether to tear apart water molecules with the electrolysis method or breaking down natural gas molecules through thermal processes which themselves create greenhouse gases.

“The economics in our view for blue and green (hydrogen) are challenged right now but support will increase, costs are bound to come down, so (it’s) another good opportunity for us to capitalize on our infrastructure,” said Al Monaco, CEO of pipeline company Enbridge Inc., on a recent conference call, echoing the cautious stance taken by many industry leaders.

Almost all of the hydrogen created in Canada today is considered “grey,” created by burning fossil fuel and then used in industrial processes such as refining petroleum or producing fertilizer. Pembina estimates it costs between 91 cents and $1.42 per kilogram to make.

If the carbon dioxide and other pollutants from making grey hydrogen are captured and stored, it becomes “blue” hydrogen, but the cost jumps to between $1.34 and $1.85 per kilogram.

“Green” hydrogen is separated from water using only renewable electricity and, while it is the most environmentally benign, it is also the most expensive at between $3 and $5 per kilogram, according to Pembina.

Utility subsidiaries of Enbridge and Atco Ltd. are embarking on plans to inject hydrogen into the natural gas stream leading to home furnaces and water heaters in Markham and Fort Saskatchewan. 

Electricity can’t be stored as is, but at Enbridge’s power-to-gas facility in Markham it is used to create hydrogen from water that can be stored until eventually being turned back into electricity with Enbridge’s 2.5-megawatt hydrogen fuel cell when needed.

Markham’s hydrogen is considered green because it is made with intermittent renewable electricity. The facility opened in 2018 after investments of $4.5 million by an Enbridge partnership and $4 million by the federal government. Its operation is supported by a three-year contract from Ontario’s electric system operator to supply surplus renewable power.

The system works to level out energy availability but when more hydrogen is created than can be stored, it has to be vented, says Cynthia Hansen, president of gas distribution and storage for Enbridge.

A partial solution is to blend the surplus at about two per cent into the local natural gas stream to reduce its overall GHG emissions, a $5.2-million project (with $221,000 from the federal government) expected to begin for about 3,600 customers starting next summer.

Atco, meanwhile, is building a $6-million hydrogen blending project backed by $2.8 million in Alberta provincial grants and expected to be operational in early 2022. 

It is to deliver about five per cent hydrogen in the gas stream to about 5,000 homes in Fort Saskatchewan, a small city just northeast of Edmonton, with the hydrogen coming from an unnamed local supplier.

“When it starts up it will be grey and then it will transition to blue as the supply in the area builds out,” said Jason Sharpe, Atco’s general manager of natural gas, estimating it will take two to three years for blue hydrogen to become available.

The Fort Saskatchewan area, with its refineries and petrochemical facilities, is ground zero for carbon capture and storage in Alberta.

Shell Canada’s Quest project, opened in 2015, has injected more than five million tonnes of carbon dioxide into underground storage from its oilsands upgrader.

The recently completed Alberta Carbon Trunk Line is a pipeline system designed to collect CO2 from industrial sites in the region and take it to mature oilfields where its permanent storage also results in enhanced oil recovery.

The global market for hydrogen could easily triple from current levels of about $200 billion per year by 2050 as countries adopt its use as a decarbonization strategy, according to GLJ, a prominent Calgary energy resource consulting firm.

Canada is well-positioned to become an exporter into this growing market because of its current and potential production, GLJ said.

Pembina’s Jutt, however, says hydrogen usage should be targeted. While it may make sense to use it for home heating in some regions, that application doesn’t necessarily make sense in B.C., where energy from renewable hydroelectric sources is potentially more environmentally friendly.

Much is riding on promised federal and provincial government regulatory, strategic and financial commitments to hydrogen, as well as other alternative fuels that can help Canada meet its goal of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, she added.

“Businesses will do what’s right for them from an economic perspective but I think everyone’s looking to government for signals that it’s good to invest in these things — hydrogen being one of many fuels that we’ll need to reach our 2050 goals.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:ENB, TSX:ACO)

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

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CALGARY — One child asks for a coat for her dog in case her family gets evicted. Another girl hopes Santa can bring her pet medication he needs. Another wishes for enough dog food.

A charity that provides subsidized pet care, including food hampers and medical treatment, for low-income residents is receiving Christmas letters from children asking for help for their furry friends.

Parachutes for Pets in Calgary has delivered 2,000 pet food hampers since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. But demand, especially during the second wave of the pandemic, is taking its toll on both the organization and those receiving help.

“Instead of Santa I wanted to write to you guys. My dog Badger is really cute and my best friend. He needs pills or he gets really, really sick. Could you bring me his pills for my Santa gift? I’ve been really good and so has he,” reads a letter signed Hanna and Badger.

The organization says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week that normally would have gone to Santa.

“My Christmas wish this year is a coat for my dog Max. Mom says we can’t pay rent after this month and I want Max to be warm if we have to stay in our car,” wrote Kaylee.

“I have a warm coat and I think one would be good for him to stay warm. Please tell Santa this is my only wish. Merry Christmas.”

Melissa David, who founded the charity, said the messages from the kids are heartbreaking.

“Instead of writing to Santa, they’ve written to us. Their Christmas wish is either for their dog to get medication and their dog to get food, so they don’t have to share their meal with them.”

David said the charity referred Kaylee’s mom, who was at risk of being evicted, with an agency to deal with her rent arrears.

She said the charity made it through the first wave of the pandemic, but the resurgence of COVID-19 in the last months has resulted in demands coming at a “fast and furious rate.”

“This second wave is going to cripple us. The amount of additional homeless with pets and domestic violence incidents involving pets is astronomical,” David said.

People are still donating food items, she said, but there’s also a need for cash, which is in short supply.

“This (pandemic) in addition to everyday challenges that are still here, such as cancer and illness, is really making it difficult for people to keep their pets at a time they can’t afford mentally to lose them.”

David said she is reaching out in desperation since there are limits on what help the charity can arrange.

“We were passed over for most COVID grants because animals were not considered essential.”

There are also messages asking for help from physically abused women who are afraid to leave their pets behind.

“They want to take their pet with them. They’re at the lowest of lows and they don’t leave with anything but the clothes on their back. And if that pet stays, statistics are 80 per cent that it will be tortured or killed or used as some sort of revenge by the abuser.”

The head of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter said crisis calls between April and September were up nearly 65 per cent compared with the year before.

Shelter CEO Kim Ruse confirms many women stay where they are for fear of their pets being harmed. 

“Not having a place for pets to go often stops women from leaving abusive and dangerous situations,” Ruse said. “Many are unaware that there are options for keeping pets safe while finding safety for themselves and their children.”

She said the agency does have pet-friendly rooms to accommodate small animals.

“Allowing pets in the shelter will help provide emotional and healing support for women and their children during their stay.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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