Lesson learned: read the footnotes in press releases. That's where an eagle-eyed Canadian spotted the mention of "Apple-designed accessories for iPhone XR including a will be available starting at $55 (CAD)" -- fine print that appeared in Apple's announcements for selected regions.
Highlighted in a tweet posted early Friday, Apple fan @ivanincanada pointed out the information, which no one else apparently noticed (or at least shared) in the month since the press release came out.
A reply on Twitter highlighted that it appears in the French and German press releases as well. It didn't appear in the US version, however.
The CA$55 price is equivalent to about $40, £32 and AU$60. We asked Apple about US pricing, but didn't immediately hear back. That's pretty expensive given the cheaper third-party alternatives that have already surfaced from companies such as Incase, or protective options for about the same price from companies such as Speck.