COVID-19 Updates: Minhas Brewery ramps up hand-sanitizer production | Kenney promises billion-dollar boost to infrastructure

COVID-19 Updates: Minhas Brewery ramps up hand-sanitizer production | Kenney promises billion-dollar boost to infrastructure

Author of the article:

Brodie Thomas

Publishing date:

5 minutes ago  •  13 minute read

Rukman Sri with Continental Commercial Vehicle Tires is seen handing out lunches, that include sanitization kits, to truck drivers at the Flying J Travel Centre. The lunches included sandwiches, fruit and granola bars, and were given to drivers free of charge. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Brendan Miller/Postmedia
Rukman Sri with Continental Commercial Vehicle Tires is seen handing out lunches, that include sanitization kits, to truck drivers at the Flying J Travel Centre. The lunches included sandwiches, fruit and granola bars, and were given to drivers free of charge. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. / Brendan Miller/Postmedia

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With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on cancellations in and around Calgary.


What’s happening now

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Latest cancellations and closures

Check our ongoing list of postponements and cancellations for more details.


COVID-19 newsletter

The Calgary Herald is putting together a nightly wrap-up of COVID-19 news from in and around Calgary. Sign up here to receive it into your inbox each evening at 7 p.m.

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Share your story

There is no bigger story in the world right now than the coronavirus pandemic. And the situation is changing rapidly. Covering the pandemic is part of a commitment to this community. We take that commitment very seriously. Help us tell the stories that matter to Calgarians.

We’ve set up an online form where you can submit your stories about how you’re handling COVID-19. We’re especially interested in hearing from frontline workers.


1:10 p.m.

Big-budget Amazon series with Josh Brolin pulls out of Alberta due to COVID-19

Josh Brolin.
Josh Brolin, star of Outer Range, which was to begin production in Alberta in April. Postmedia Archives

The big-budget, Brad Pitt-produced Amazon series Outer Range, starring Josh Brolin, has cancelled its plans to shoot in Alberta.

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In an April 8 message sent to local crews obtained by Postmedia, producers confirmed the show would withdraw from Alberta due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No information has been released regarding if the series would shoot elsewhere at a later date.

Read more.


12:55 pm.

Minhas Breweries presses pause on spirit production to make hand sanitizer

Minhas President and CEO, Manjit Minhas poses in the new winery and distillery area in the company's northeast facility on Friday, June 14, 2019. The new portion of the facility has been added to the exising micro-brewery.Jim Wells/Postmedia
(FILE) – Minhas President and CEO, Manjit Minhas poses in the new winery and distillery area in the company’s northeast facility on Friday, June 14, 2019. Jim Wells/Postmedia

Minhas Breweries and Distilleries says it is moving into hand sanitizer production full time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Calgary-based producer of beer, wine and spirits has been donating hand sanitizer to essential services including care centres, shelters, food banks and emergency service workers.

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Starting on April 13, the brewery’s hand sanitizer will be available for purchase at major grocery chains.

“We started investigating the process the moment we took our first call from a regional health authority. It took a couple of weeks to clear approvals and gather ingredients but we’re relieved to be up and running,” says Minhas Micro Brewery CEO Manjit Minhas in a statement.

The company has given all employees raises, and have hired or expect to hire a total of 45 new workers in the next two weeks.


12:30 p.m.

Alberta doctors sue province in bid to re-start contract negotiations

Tyler Shandro, Alberta Minister of Health, speaks at a news conference at McDougall Centre in Calgary on Monday, February 3, 2020. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

As doctors work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re also fighting a battle in court with the provincial government.

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Citing “bad faith” negotiations, Alberta’s doctors are going to court to force the provincial government back to the bargaining table.

In an action to be filed in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench, the Alberta Medical Association argues the province arbitrarily imposed its will on physicians, a move it calls unprecedented in Canada and a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Read more here.

Postmedia Columnist Licia Corbella weighs in on the lawsuit in her latest piece.

“It’s a sad and shameful state of affairs, particularly as doctors all across Alberta — from rural settings to urban centres — are risking their lives daily as they tend to sick patients suffering from the novel coronavirus and other serious ailments,” she writes.

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Read her full column here.


11:40 a.m.

OPEC+ agrees to make deep oil output cuts to fight market slump

An Austrian army member stands next to the logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in front of OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria April 9, 2020. Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

Major oil producers agreed to slash output as feuding members of the OPEC+ coalition buried differences in an effort to lift the market from a pandemic-driven collapse.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, meeting by video conference on Thursday, now have the outline of a deal to cut production by 10 million barrels a day, delegates said. Importantly, Russia has agreed to make deep cuts, the delegates said.

Oil prices pared gains, trading up 1.6 per cent in London at US$33.37 a barrel as of 4:13 p.m. local time. That reflects concern that the volume of cuts being discussed equates to just a fraction of the demand loss, which some traders estimate at as much as 35 million barrels a day.

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Read more.


11:30 a.m.

Kenney promises billion-dollar boost to infrastructure repairs

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Jim Wells/Postmedia files

The Alberta government will double its budget this year for infrastructure maintenance and renewal to $1.9 billion to counter job losses due to COVID-19 and the collapse in oil prices, Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday morning.

The extra $937 million will include funding for paving roads, fixing bridges, filling potholes, and repairs for K-12 schools. HVAC upgrades would be installed in universities, and courthouses would get information technology upgrades.

Read more.


11:20 a.m.

Student-developed Joy4All hotline brings messages of hope to those in isolation

A group of Students in the Calgary Board of Education’s Recreational Leadership program have set up a hotline meant to bring joy to Albertans in isolation.

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Teacher Jamie Anderson challenged his students to help seniors in isolation feel less lonely during this difficult time.

“Many folks are experiencing barriers to connection to others, so the students decided to bring messages of joy to phone lines to reach as many people as possible through the voices of youth.”

The hotline will launch tomorrow. Albertan’s will be able to call into the hotline to hear pre-recorded messages of kindness, jokes,stories and more.

Students and youth are also encouraged to submit their own messages.

More details can be found at joy4all.ca.


11:00 a.m.

No border closure yet, but B.C. and Alberta issue joint statement

Steam rises from the warm water of the mountain side Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia on Friday January 18, 2019. Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia
Steam rises from the warm water of the mountain side Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia on Friday January 18, 2019. Ernest Doroszuk/Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Post

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While residents of some B.C. tourist hot spots close to Alberta have called for a border closure this coming long weekend, the provincial governments have not been willing to go that far just yet.

Instead, the ministries of health for both Alberta and B.C. issued a joint statement on Thursday reminding people that now is not the time to travel.

“This long weekend is different. These are extraordinary times. A global pandemic puts us all at risk – and we all must stay home, stay in our communities and stay at a safe physical distance from others when outside,” reads the statement.

“Let us be clear: Staying home means no travelling – especially across our borders. Instead, we encourage everyone to find ways to connect virtually this long weekend, including by video chat or with phone calls.”

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10:40 a.m.

By the Numbers: Alberta hospitals prepare for influx of patients


10:10 a.m.

B.C. and Alberta show progress in flattening the curve

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney discusses the Province’s COVID-19 modelling during a press conference, in Edmonton Wednesday April 8, 2020. Photo by David Bloom

How is Canada progressing when it comes to the all-important goal of flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections? The answer is complicated, and it depends which part of the country you look at.

For the most optimism that the first wave has been squashed, look to B.C. and Alberta. For the areas that look most concerning, but show some signs of progress, look to Quebec and Ontario. And at least for now, the situation looks under control in the rest of the country.

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“I think we are very much trying to figure out where we are on the curve within the various models,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday when asked if Canada was approaching a national peak of infections.

Read more.


9:30 a.m.

Calgary Tower invites kids to design light shows

The Calgary Tower is known to light up in special colours for special events — think Green on St Patrick’s Day — and now the tower is handing the design of its light shows over to Calgary’s youngest residents.

Kids can download and print a colouring sheet and design the show they’d like to see. The tower will choose one winning entry on nights that haven’t already been pre-booked.

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9:15 a.m.

On anniversary of Vimy Ridge, Trudeau calls on ordinary Canadians to do extraordinary things

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered his daily update outside Rideau Cottage this morning.

  • Trudeau began by evoking the anniversary of Vimy Ridge to highlight ordinary Canadians who do extraordinary things.
  • He said modelling numbers released today who the virus arrived later than other countries and that buys us more time.
  • Models show anywhere between 4,000 and 44,000 deaths across the country.
  • Says we will continue to fight small outbreaks beyond summer until a vaccine is developed.
  • Trudeau again stressed that social distancing will work, and everyone needs to do their part.
  • Trudeau says Parliament needs to come together to pass more legislation to help Canadians. They are exploring virtual ways of meeting.

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9:00 a.m.

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat coronavirus

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. THE CANADIAN PRESS/NIAID-RML via AP
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. The Canadian Press/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Researchers from across Canada will collaborate on a vast clinical trial to study whether the plasma of recovered patients can be used to treat COVID-19.

The study, the largest to date ever done on the subject, will include about 50 Canadian institutions, including 15 in Quebec.

“It’s a therapy to treat the illness,” said one of the lead researchers, Dr. Philippe Begin of Montreal’s CHU Ste-Justine hospital.

“We’re talking about passive immunizations, while with a vaccine we’re talking about active immunization.”

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8:20 a.m.

Controls can keep Canadian COVID-19 deaths under 22,000, health agency says

A steady stream of people at the Assessment Centre set up at the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre to get tested for CORVID-19 in Calgary on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

With strong control measures, the federal public health agency projects that 11,000 to 22,000 Canadians could die of COVID-19 in the coming months.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says short-term estimates are more reliable, and it anticipates 500 to 700 deaths by the end of next week.

The agency released modelling data this morning with different possible scenarios, warning that what happens depends very much on how Canadians behave to keep the respiratory illness from spreading.


8:00 a.m.

Resort towns worry about rush of long weekend visitors

The view of Lake Windermere from Pineridge Mountain Resort, under development by Statesman Resorts in Invermere, B.C. Supplied/Postmedia

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In an effort to protect their communities from the spread of COVID-19, mayors of resort towns frequented by Albertans are putting a hold on messages of “welcome” and instead pleading that people stay home as the weather warms in time for the long weekend.

In a message unlike any he’s had to previously broadcast, Invermere, B.C., Mayor Al Miller said that now is not the right time to be travelling or spending the weekend at a vacation home. Not only are most shops closed in these communities, giving people little to do, their grocery stores and health care systems don’t have the infrastructure to support a visiting crowd.

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“I am the person that is out front of the community, inviting people to come visit. We have a great spot, so it’s in my normal DNA to welcome people all the time,” Miller said Wednesday. “This pandemic is not normal; it’s changing our country and the world, in how we have to act to get through it.”

Read more.


7:30 a.m.

WestJet plans to use federal wage subsidy to rehire 6,400 employees

Dozens of WestJet planes are being parked around the Calgary International Airport as the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down most passenger air traffic around the world. Thursday, March 26, 2020. Gavin Young/Postmedia

Calgary-based WestJet says it will rehire almost 6,400 workers, hours after rival Air Canada announced it would use the federal government’s wage subsidy program to bring back employees it has already laid off due to COVID-19.

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Ed Sims, WestJet CEO and president, said in a video posted late Wednesday that the Calgary-based airline will return the laid-off employees to the company payroll under the federal program, following “substantial discussions” with Ottawa.

“This does not automatically mean that they will be coming back to work as there simply may not be enough work there for them, but it will help make ends meet,” said Sims.

Read more.


7:00 a.m.

Canada lost 1,011,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate up to 7.8%: StatCan

Signage mark the Statistics Canada offiices in Ottawa on July 21, 2010. Canada's national statistics agency is set this morning to release a snapshot of the labour force from March as the COVID-19 virus plunged the country into economic uncertainty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Signage mark the Statistics Canada offices in Ottawa on July 21, 2010. Canada’s national statistics agency is set this morning to release a snapshot of the labour force from March as the COVID-19 virus plunged the country into economic uncertainty. Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Statistics Canada reports the economy lost 1,011,000 jobs in March as the COVID-19 crisis began to take hold, which lifts the unemployment rate up to 7.8 per cent.

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The 2.2 per cent increase in the national unemployment rate marks the worst single-month change over the last 40-plus years of comparable data and brings the rate to a level not seen since October 2010.

Economists warn the numbers are likely to be even worse when the agency starts collecting April job figures, with millions more Canadians now receiving emergency federal aid.

Read more.


Wednesday

Alberta has adequate supply of ventilators, PPE to weather COVID-19 peak, modelling suggests

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney discusses the Province's COVID-19 modelling during a press conference, in Edmonton Wednesday April 8, 2020. Photo by David Bloom
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney discusses the Province’s COVID-19 modelling during a press conference, in Edmonton Wednesday April 8, 2020. Photo by David Bloom David Bloom David Bloom/David Bloom/Postmedia

Alberta plans to more than double its supply of ventilators by the end of April in a bid to endure the worst-case scenario for the peak of its COVID-19 outbreak.

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According to modelling of Alberta’s novel coronavirus outbreak released Wednesday, the province currently has enough free acute care beds to weather the storm of the deadly virus without overloading its health-care system.

But Alberta Health Services is still pursuing an increase in its health-system capacity in order to be prepared for a spike in cases that greatly outpaces modelling projections.

Read more.


Wednesday

50 more cases, three more deaths

Alberta Health Services updated its province-wide COVID-19 stats on its website:

  • There were 50 new cases reported by the province, bringing the total to 1,423.
  • There were three new deaths, all in the Calgary zone; 29 Albertans have died from the virus so far.
  • One of the deaths reported was another resident of the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre, the 13th resident to die of the virus.
  • 206 of the total cases are suspected to be community acquired.
  • 1,645 tests were completed in the last 24 hours.
  • There are 860 cases in the Calgary zone.
  • 44 people are in hospital, 16 are in the intensive care unit.
  • There are 518 confirmed recovered cases.

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Wednesday

McDonalds closes Glenmore Landing location after employee tests positive for COVID-19

McDonalds is closing its Glenmore Landing location after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, the restaurant chain said in a press release.

The employee last worked at the restaurant on April 2 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

McDonalds said in the release that any other employees who have been in close contact with the employee have been asked to self quarantine; the restaurant chain is asking customers who visited the restaurant on April 2 to “take directions from Alberta Health Services by visiting their website.”

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McDonalds is hiring a third party to clean and sanitize the restaurant and will re-open it “once direction has been given by the public health authorities.”


Wednesday

Calgary Co-op employee tests positive for COVID-19

A Calgary Co-op employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the company said in a notice emailed to members and posted on its website.

The employee worked at the Village Square gas station. The release said the station was closed, deep cleaned and sanitized; it re-opened today.

Co-op also said that it is “working with AHS to identify and support anyone that the employee may have come in contact with to ensure they self-isolate.”

There is no information given in the release as to what dates or shifts the employee was working prior to being tested. It does say Co-op is “following up directly with those potentially affected.”

Read the full release at calgarycoop.com.

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