The Ontario government has announced parts of the province will be able to move into Stage 3 of reopening on Friday.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians are concerned about their health and safety.
MONTREAL — Quebec has become the first Canadian province to make mask-wearing mandatory in all indoor public places for people aged 12 years and older.Premier Francois Legault said the new directive enters into effect Saturday — just in time for the province's annual construction holiday.Businesses will be expected to enforce the new rules and are subject to fines of between $400 and $6,000 if their customers are caught violating the health directive, Legault told reporters Monday in Montreal.He said the government is considering imposing fines on individuals beginning in August. People who for medical reasons cannot wear masks are exempt from the new rule, Legault added.The premier said his government held off making mask-wearing indoors mandatory until now because it wanted to impose restrictions on Quebecers gradually. The new rules enter into effect July 18, at the beginning of the two-week construction holiday, during which Quebecers are expected to travel around the province with their families."It's easier to wear a mask than to return to being confined," Legault said, adding the province has seen a slight increase in the number of daily new COVID-19 cases."I know it's summer," he said. "It's holidays. It's not fun to wear a mask, but it's essential to avoid going backwards."Quebec reported 100 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, as well as one additional death. That brings the province's total deaths to 5,628, while infections reached 56,621. Hospitalizations declined by one to 305, with 21 people in intensive care.Legault said the new rule applies in all indoor settings across the province, including restaurants — but only when patrons are moving around."When we are sitting down, when we are at a table, we can take it off," he said. "But when we get up to use the bathroom or to leave, we put it back on."Groups representing business owners raised concerns about the responsibility of enforcing the measure, suggesting it places an additional burden on retailers who are already struggling.In a statement, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that while business owners respect the need to limit a second wave of the pandemic, "public health is a shared responsibility.""To ask a small business to be entirely responsible for consumer actions, which are beyond its reasonable control, and to impose fines doesn't seem very equitable," said Gopinath Jeyabalaratnam, a policy analyst for the group.The Conseil du Patronat du Quebec, which represents employers, said responsibility should be shared between clients and business owners, and called on the government to emphasize education rather than fines.Legault said it was necessary to rely on businesses because "police cannot be in all the shops at the same time." He said enforcement would likely begin with warnings and progress to fines.As for retail or restaurant workers who are confronted with recalcitrant customers, Legault said they should call police.On Monday, mask-wearing also became mandatory inside public transit across the province. At the entrance to Montreal's St-Laurent subway station, however, there was little evidence anything had changed.Around noon, there were no employees or prominent signs indicating the new rules as transit users, some wearing masks and some not, came in and out through the turnstiles.Masks were more in evidence as rush hour began, and an announcement could be heard over the loudspeaker informing transit users of the measure.The province has granted transit users a two-week grace period before people can be denied boarding for failing to wear a face covering. Legault said he expected a similar period would also be granted to allow the public to get used to the wider rule before fines are imposed.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
The study by King's College London, the first COVID-19 study of its kind, is the latest to cast doubt over the concept of so-called herd immunity.
A large swath of Ontario will move to Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan on July 17, with the exception of the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of southern Ontario, which will remain in Stage 2 for now.The province's plan will allow for activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows and the reopening of movie theatres and playgrounds — albeit with significant health and safety measures in place, including physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and Plexiglas barriers."Every corner of our province is getting back to work," Premier Doug Ford said at a Monday news conference. "Today, we are ready to take the next step."The province says it will allow indoor gatherings of up to 50 people in Stage 3 and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people. However, according to the plan, physical distancing remains a requirement for all people who are not from the same household or established social circle. Work colleagues, including performers and crews, do not count toward gathering limits, according to the province.The following public health units will remain in Stage 2 for the time being: * Durham Region Health Department. * Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. * Halton Region Public Health. * Hamilton Public Health Services. * Lambton Public Health. * Niagara Region Public Health. * Peel Public Health. * Toronto Public Health. * Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. * York Region Public Health."These regions entered Stage 2 later on, so we need just a little more time," Ford said. "I want the people in these regions to know we won't leave anyone behind."We will keep working until every part of this province gets to Stage 3."WATCH | Premier Doug Ford outlines what Stage 3 of reopening in Ontario will look like:The plan also says that people gathering inside for religious services, weddings or funerals can continue to fill up to 30 per cent of a room's capacity in Stage 3.It also dictates that sport facilities and gyms can reopen but notes that physical distancing still must be maintained, "except if playing a team sport or as needed for personal training."Amusement parks and water parks are not being allowed to reopen in Stage 3 at the moment.Health measures still in place in Stage 3Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that health measures such as wearing face coverings, hand washing and physical distancing remain key to ensuring that Ontarians can "safely enjoy the loosening of restrictions."We expect the province will remain in Stage 3 for the foreseeable future," Elliott said. She also said that health officials will be monitoring for any COVID-19 outbreaks and can tighten restrictions if there are flare-ups. Provincial Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Monday that he is hoping the entire province will be able to be in Stage 3 by the end of July.Elliott also said social circles for people in Ontario will remain capped at 10 for now. The province can gradually expand them, but "just not right yet," she said.Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Ontario is in a "strong position" to reopen right now, especially compared to areas in some other countries being hard hit by COVID-19."We're in this position because we have made the choice to act responsibly and treat each other with respect," he said.He said that respect is key in Stage 3 to "avoid taking a step backwards."Provincial officials pointed to the situation in the United States as a cautionary tale Monday. Canada's southern neighbour opened the week grappling with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world after Florida shattered the national record for a state's largest single-day increase in new confirmed cases.The World Health Organization warned that the pandemic is worsening globally and that "there will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future."Williams said it seems the U.S. opened too quickly and is now having to backtrack."We do not want to repeat or have anything like that," he said.116 new cases reported MondayThe loosening of restrictions comes as the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow in Ontario, with new daily case numbers having steadily declined over the last five weeks. Ontario reported 116 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 today. In a series of tweets this morning, Elliott noted that 29 of Ontario's 34 public health units reported five or fewer additional cases today, while 21 of those 29 confirmed no new cases at all. There are currently fewer than 1,500 active cases provincewide. Further, the number of patients in Ontario hospitals with infections of the novel coronavirus also continues to fall, she said. There were five times as many people being treated in hospital for COVID-19 at the beginning of June than there are now. "Having seen a continued decline in the number of new [COVID-19] cases as the province entered Stage 2, and with hospitalizations being at all-time lows, today we're providing details about Stage 3 of our plan to continue the safe and gradual reopening the province," Elliott wrote.Twenty-four public health units entered Stage 2 on June 12, and seven more on June 19. Toronto and Peel, the province's most populous health units, then proceeded into Stage 2 five days after that. The move included reopening patios and hair salons.The president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association is already expressing some hesitations at the prospect of entering the third phase."Given that hospitals continue to act as the anchor of Ontario's response to COVID-19, [the OHA] will be giving this announcement some serious scrutiny," Anthony Dale wrote on Twitter."We can't have hallway health care in a pandemic."Nearly 89% of confirmed cases resolvedThe additional cases of COVID-19 reported today mean that Ontario has now seen a total of 36,839 infections of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, 88.7 per cent are considered resolved by the Ministry of Health. The province's official death toll from the illness grew by three in today's report and now sits at 2,722. A CBC News count based on data provided directly by public health units, however, puts the real toll at 2,756 as of yesterday evening. About three quarters of all deaths were residents in long-term care homes. Health officials are currently tracking ongoing outbreaks in 23 facilities.Meanwhile, Ontario's network of about 30 community, commercial and hospital labs processed some 20,896 test samples for the virus since the last update. Another 7,837 are in the queue waiting to be completed. You can read the province's plan for Stage 3 here:
Officials in Ontario's Windsor-Essex region called on the provincial or federal government Friday to take the reins in tackling COVID-19 outbreaks in farms, saying the situation requires more co-ordination than they can provide themselves.Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said there have been instances where "the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," and having a lead agency would help prevent that."Everyone is doing the best they can do locally but this type of situation requires a different level of co-ordination because of the complexity involved," he said in a news conference with other local leaders Friday morning."What we want to do is make sure there are no gaps," and no duplication of efforts, he said.He noted, for example, that if migrant workers who test positive are being housed in a hotel, there must also be arrangements to deliver meals to them so they don't have to leave their rooms.Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald said there should be incentives for farms to have their workers tested, or fines for those who refuse."It's a prickly issue, no one seems to want to take that on but someone needs to. If we don't get somebody to do this, we'll just keep going round and round in circles," she said."There has to be something, a carrot or a stick, basically."Asked whether the province was willing to take over the COVID-19 response in the area, Premier Doug Ford would only say it's "all hands on deck" when it comes to addressing farm outbreaks.He said federal and provincial inspectors are already in the region, as are local and provincial health officials and the Ministry of Health.Farms in Windsor-Essex have been hit hard by COVID-19, with four currently in outbreak.Hundreds of migrant workers have tested positive for the virus, and three have died — two of them in Windsor-Essex and one in Norfolk County.Two more farm workers were reported to have tested positive on Friday, according to the Windsor-Essex health unit.Health officials in Lambton County said they have offered voluntary, on-site testing to farms in that region that hire temporary foreign workers or seasonal employees.Of the 86 tests completed at six farms in the last two weeks, 84 have been negative and two are still pending, the health unit said.Lambton County expects to see between 200 and 300 temporary foreign workers arrive for seasonal work at area farms, it said."The response has been good and we are having regular conversations with local farm operators on how to prevent COVID-19 transmission and manage the risk for any possible outbreak," Dr. Sudit Ranade, the county's medical officer of health, said in a statement.Ontario reported 116 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and seven new deaths due to the novel coronavirus.The total number of cases now stands at 36,464, which includes 32,155 marked as resolved and 2,710 deaths.The province is also reporting 178 newly resolved cases today. More than 27,484 tests for the novel coronavirus were completed over the previous 24 hours.The number of people in hospital because of the virus dropped slightly, while people in intensive care and on ventilators both slightly increased.The farm outbreaks delayed the economic reopening in the Windsor-Essex region, particularly in the towns of Leamington and Kingsville, which were the last two communities to reach Stage 2 this week.The Ontario government last week deployed a team from its emergency management agency to help co-ordinate care and housing for farm workers who tested positive for the virus.Meanwhile, Ford planned to make multiple public appearances at businesses on Friday to thank Ontario workers for their service during the pandemic.The premier, alongside Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli, promoted a program meant to help Ontarians identify products made in the province, in an effort to boost the local economy.The Ontario Made program, which is run by the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters organization, is receiving $500,000 in provincial funding through the Ontario Together Fund launched in April.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 10, 2020.Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
After being closed for almost four month due to COVID-19, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will be welcoming guests again on Jul 11, beginning with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.“Our deliberate and phased approach at Walt Disney World Resort emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts.”Although the resort may be open, the experience for guests will look quite different to what a Walt Disney World trip was in the past. Some of the new rules that will be in place include:Limits on capacity in theme parks each dayTemperature screenings before entering a theme parkGround markings and physical barriers to promote physical distancingLimited capacity on transportation servicesAll guests, and cast members, over the age of two must wear a face covering at all times (excepting when eating and drinking)Cashless payment options are encouraged, including mobile ordering through the My Disney Experience app for diningWhile children, and adults, may love taking a photo with their favourite Disney character, traditional greeting and parades are still on hiatus. These beloved characters will still be around to wave at guests throughout the day, but they’ll be saying hello from a safe physical distance.EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow with reopening on Jul. 15. The Disney Skyliner also resume operation on that date, with one party per gondola.
The number of severely food insecure people has risen 70 per cent over the past four years, a compound effect of climate change, conflict and socio-economic shocks, say health officials.
LONDON — The traditional British summer getaway to sun-soaked Mediterranean beaches picked up steam Friday as U.K. quarantine restrictions were removed from dozens of countries, including France, Greece and Italy.But with many flights still cancelled, resorts working on ensuring that they are COVID-safe and many potential vacationers reluctant to make a trip abroad in light of the pandemic, Britain's airports are much less busy than they would be in any other year.Last week's announcement by the British government to ease quarantine requirements for anyone arriving back to the U.K. has given some a nudge to take the plunge. Scotland’s list is slightly different to that for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, requiring people from Spain to quarantine, for example.“We probably would have gone later,” said Ray Gordge, 64, at Gatwick Airport, south of London, on his way to Paris to see his daughter for the first time in six months, and meet his new grandson, born last week.As of Friday, anyone arriving back to England, Wales and Northern Ireland — resident or non-resident — from around 75 countries and territories won't have to self-isolate for 14 days.The aviation and travel industries are hoping the new rules will help them salvage part of the summer vacation booking season battered by the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic — thousands of people have lost their jobs as business ground to a halt.The crucial period will be later this month when the school year officially ends and travel companies and airlines start ramping up operations.Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate said the relaxation of the rules can make a "massive difference,” given that around three-quarters of the destinations the airport serves are now free from quarantine requirements.“From a consumer point of view, what we’re hoping is that will persuade people to take advantage of the flights," he said.Wingate said that there would be around 50 flights on Friday, rising to around 100 by the end of the month and possibly 400 later in the summer — way below the 900 or so the airport normally handles in the peak season.The list doesn't include the United States, which is considered high-risk. Portugal, another popular destination for British tourists, also isn't on the list though discussions between the respective governments are ongoing. Serbia was originally on the list, but was removed on Friday because of a spike in coronavirus infections in the country.Confidence is key and susceptible to any new outbreaks — home or abroad — over the coming weeks. Though the U.K. has the highest official virus death toll in Europe with 44,650, it has reduced the rate of infection.Professor Keith Neal, an epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham, said scrapping quarantining requirements to those countries with lower rates of coronavirus transmission makes sense because travellers are “less likely” to get COVID-19 on vacation than they are staying in the U.K.However, he said the list needs to be reviewed "probably twice a week in case countries have flare-ups.”One of the major changes greeting vacationers is the necessity to wear face coverings at the airport and on the plane.“I think it’s going to be difficult to maintain social distancing, but I also think the chances of coming into contact with someone with COVID is pretty low and they seem pretty on the ball with masks and things," Eoin Burgin, a 21-year-old student at Edinburgh University, said at Gatwick.Burgin said he was “very excited” to be heading to Basel, Switzerland, to see his girlfriend for the first time in about five months, but that he wouldn't have been going if the quarantine changes hadn't been announced.The getaway will gather pace in coming days. TUI U.K., the country's biggest travel company, for example, is due to restart its summer program on Saturday, with flights to eight destinations in Greece, Spain's Balearic Islands and the Canaries, from three airports. TUI has said it plans to add more flights and destinations by the end of July to offer a total of 19 destinations from five U.K. airports.___Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakPan Pylas, The Associated Press
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is asking the province to reassess its plans for school in the fall — especially when it comes to the government's "hybrid" model, which the board says would force parents to choose between their jobs and educating their kids.At a special board meeting Thursday evening, trustees voted to call on the province to "strongly consider" working parents with young children, single parent households and low-income families in its plans amid COVID-19."We want to ensure that all students can return in September in the safest way possible, but we must also recognize that if the Ministry of Education does not permit them to return every day, it will put many of the families of 247,000 TDSB students in a very difficult position — not to mention the families of thousands of TDSB staff," said board chair Robin Pilkey in a statement.Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce outlined the province's plan for students' return to school in September last month.He laid out three options that boards should prepare for — one being an adapted delivery model, which blends in-class with online learning, and would see students alternating being in class by days or weeks.Lecce said in that situation, class sizes wouldn't exceed 15 students in class at a time.At a provincial news conference Friday, Lecce said the province "stands ready to work with" school boards moving heading into September. He also said the province wants to be "ready for every circumstance and every challenge."The best way forward is to be ready for the three options we laid out," he said.According to a news release, TDSB trustees are calling on the province to provide emergency funding for the "development of a larger and more robust staffing plan to accommodate getting as many students as possible, as soon as possible, back into physical schools/spaces."The school board would also want to use that funding to go toward personal protective equipment, transportation, IT devices, mental-health services and cleaning supplies.The TDSB is also asking the province to delay the implementation of its new math curriculum, which the province touted as a move "back to basics" when it was revealed last month.The board said in a statement that the implementation of the new curriculum should be delayed until school operations are no longer affected by the pandemic."We recognize that the Ministry of Education has made a change to the math curriculum and expects it to be in place this September, but as students and staff — still dealing with pandemic-related issues — return to school, we want them to focus on this critical transition and not on learning a new way to do math," Pilkey said in a statement.
Newfoundland and Labrador has a new case of COVID-19, ending a streak of 42 consecutive days of no new cases, and halting the province's status of being free of coronavirus.The new case is travel-related, the government said Friday. The new case involves a man, between the ages of 50 and 59, who had recently returned from the United States. A resident of the province, he lives in the Eastern Health region. "While on route to Newfoundland and Labrador, the individual was not symptomatic nor considered infectious. The individual self-isolated upon return to the province as per public health guidelines," a statement from the Department of Health and Community Services said.The individual did not travel through the Atlantic provinces while on his return trip back to the province, according to the government. Contact tracing is underway, says the health department. Because the man wasn't symptomatic on his return to the province, "the risk to the public is low at this time," said the statement. 1st case in 6 weeksFriday's new case marks the first one since May 28. It puts the province's caseload at 262. In total, 258 people have recovered from the virus, and there have been three deaths. To date, 19,970 people have been tested. That's an extra 164 in the last 24 hours. There is no scheduled in-person briefing by government officials on Friday, as the numbers related to COVID-19 are distributed via email on all days except Wednesday. Relaxed rules for visitors in hospital, care homesSome of the province's health authorities announced a further easing of restrictions related to visitors on Friday.As of Monday, July 13, Eastern Health and Western Health will green light six designated visitors or support people for all inpatients in hospital, as well as residents of long-term care, personal care homes and assisted living facilities. A maximum of two people can visit per day, and these two visitors can attend at the same time, when it comes to the non-hospital facilities.Visiting hours will be left up to each facility to decide. All visitors must wear a mask, and will be screened for COVID-19, and will have to go directly to the designated visiting area. The guidelines for visitors for palliative care patients vary and people should check with the healthcare provider.Obstetrics patients can have one support person who can stay for the entire time that the mother and baby are in the hospital. That person can visit as many times as they like throughout the day, according to the new guidelines. Four designated visitors are also allowed after delivery until the mother and baby leave the hospital.Atlantic Bubble marks 1 weekFriday marked a week since the Atlantic bubble has opened. This allows people to travel within Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I without self-isolating for 14 days. This week saw officials turn suggested guidelines into new rules when it comes to bars. Less than a week after crowds packed into some George Street clubs, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation said it will crack down on bars that don't enforce physical distancing and capacity rules.An amendment made late Wednesday afternoon to the chief medical officer of health's special measures order requires all bars in the province to operate at half of their approved capacity, provided physical distancing can be maintained.Dance floors may not be used for dancing, but tables and chairs can be set up on the dance floor if there is at least two metres between seated patrons.The order says it is the responsibility of the bar to ensure compliance with the order.Read more by CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Researchers from Nova Scotia are teaming up with New Brunswick scientists to develop antiviral packaging to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Beth Mason, CEO of the Verschuren Centre at Cape Breton University, said her team is studying how to embed tiny particles into plastic that would kill the coronavirus on contact. A team of New Brunswick scientists will then build on that work to develop a coating that could be sprayed on other packaging, like cardboard. Mason says most viruses and bacteria, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have a protective coating "that makes them really difficult to kill."But certain nano-metallic compounds can disrupt the lipid membrane — or coating. That causes the virus to dehydrate and die. Mason's team is trying to embed those virus-killing compounds into plastics. The idea is that when the coronavirus lands on the packaging, "the active compound will disrupt the protective coating of the virus."The first step in the research is to find the right molecules to embed, explained Mason. The next step is to ensure that the compound can survive the high temperatures that it takes to make plastic. "So if we can't embed it successfully, can we just add it as a coating?" said Mason. Within a couple of months, Mason said she hopes her team will have identified some compounds that a team in New Brunswick can use to develop a coating. "And then all successful candidates will get sent to a virology lab where they'd actually test the efficacy on COVID-19," she said. Mason's team already has a number of compounds identified, including small-scale copper, that could effectively burst the lipid membrane of viruses.The team also has experience embedding compounds into plastic packaging. "So we're working on two ideas," said Mason. "One is ... embedding protection within the plastic itself, and the other is to create a plasticized coating. So for anything that it can't be embedded into, we're looking at a spray-on coating." That coating could then be applied to cardboard, for example. Mason said the trick is to not change the properties of the plastic. She said that's especially important for clear food packaging. Imagine, for example, if the packaging on a T-bone steak gave it a tinge of green or grey. "So that's the biggest challenge — is to get something that's functional and then to get something that doesn't disrupt the existing properties of the plastics themselves," said Mason.The other important consideration with food packaging is to ensure it's safe. After all, the food it comes into contact with is eventually consumed by humans."We only want it to be able to kill the viruses. We don't want it to have any noxious properties to people who are touching the packaging," said Mason. She said she's getting a lot of interest from people around the world, "which makes me think that a lot of people might be a little bit fed up with washing their groceries when they get them."The Atlantic director of the Retail Council of Canada said it's great that Maritimers are working on projects to help slow the spread of COVID-19. But Jim Cormier suspects that retailers will want to reserve judgment on the technology until they hear about the associated costs. "Packaging is meant to encompass only a tiny fraction of the cost of a product," said Cormier. The question is whether the consumer is willing to pay more?"Would they be willing to pay more for potential health benefits or would they prefer to pay less and then wipe down the packaging when they get home."Mason said her team is trying to "minimize what the additional cost would be." The goal, she said, is to keep any price increase under five per cent. "The question back to the consumer would be, 'What price would you pay if it meant that you had a product that gave greater safety and also meant that you could bring your groceries home and you don't have to wash everything?'." said Mason.Is it really needed?Ken Whitehurst, the executive director of the Consumer Council of Canada, said he hasn't heard any scientific evidence to suggest that the coronavirus is commonly spread on consumer goods. So he's not sure consumers will be eager to pay more for packaging. And even if the packaging proves effective at killing the virus, he wonders whether there might be unintended consequences if the nanoparticles end up in the environment. "There's all kinds of this technology that requires careful study to understand the marketplace efficacy and the intended and unintended consequences, " said Whitehurst.
The head of a group that represents deaf Nova Scotians is making the pitch for more people to wear clear masks as their ability to communicate has become more challenging in the last four months during COVID-19.Frank O'Sullivan, the executive director of the Society of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Nova Scotians, said they fully support the widespread use of masks to protect people from COVID-19, but he wants people to be aware of what that means for those with hearing loss."Obviously life has changed for everyone," he wrote in an email to CBC News. "For people who are deaf or hard of hearing the everyday communication challenges, barriers and stresses have been compounded."The society estimates there are more than 58,000 Nova Scotians with hearing loss, so the issue is more widespread than people realize.O'Sullivan, who is deaf, depends on facial expressions and lip-reading. He said those with some hearing are also trying to adjust because masks muffle speech."It has impacted every aspect of life," he said. "Not only when using public and private services, but also for deaf and hard of hearing in their workplace where their co-workers are required to wear masks or if they have to deal with the public who wear masks."O'Sullivan said his solution so far is to ask people to write things down or temporarily remove their masks when speaking with him.Long term, he'd like to see more people wearing masks with a clear shield, but they're not easy to come by.Marie MacMullin, who owns Formal Tailoring in Hammonds Plains, N.S., realized she should start offering that option when speaking with some customers who are speech pathologists."That's when I started doing some research online," MacMullin said. She found designs that just had plastic over the lips, but decided to make modifications."I know when people are lip-reading, they also rely on expressions from people, so the whole idea is to see the whole face."She came up with the idea for See My Smile, a mask with an entirely clear front, but a fabric edge that goes over the nose. MacMullin also had to keep safety in mind, so the plastic isn't suffocating."It cones out of the face so it's not directly on where the nose and the mouth is," she said. "When I put it on, I didn't feel like I was suffocating at all."The other challenge she faced was the plastic fogging up like glasses. She recommends customers clean it with soap or shaving cream.While O'Sullivan would like the masks to become mainstream, MacMullin said they've been slow to catch on. She sells them for $15 and estimates she's made several hundred."We've been shipping them out to Cape Breton, we shipped a lot out to New Brunswick, we sent some to Quebec," she said.O'Sullivan said if masks do become mandatory in Nova Scotia, he hopes people have patience, and consider that some people will have difficulty communicating."The communication challenges posed by masks is currently not widely understood in society in general so a lot of education and awareness needs to be undertaken," he said.MORE TOP STORIES
Servers wearing masks, Plexiglas between tables, and a resurgence in plastic straw popularity. Post-COVID-19 dining is different.But in New Brunswick, the previously taken-for-granted experience can also vary from one establishment to another.Some ask kitchen staff to wear masks, others don't. Some have Plexiglas, some don't. Some ask customers to sanitize their hands before entering the building, others leave it up to the individual. Restaurant owners say they're hitting their stride a month after they were allowed to reopen their dining rooms, but communication about rules and expectations is still a challenge."The poor health inspector, like 'here's some rules and regulations but at the same time nothing's set in stone, so good luck, sir,'" joked Jakob Lutes, chef and owner of Saint John's Port City Royal.As part of the COVID-19 recovery plan in the province, New Brunswick announced restaurants can start serving customers in dine-in settings again. But when it comes to the guidelines, intentionally broad was the way to go, according to Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health.WorkSafeNB issued a guide that provides general protocols all workplaces must follow. A few things are non-negotiable: physical distancing, increased cleaning, hand hygiene and masks when physical distancing is not possible.The province also asked that each business create an operational plan, which can be subject to surprise inspector scrutiny at any time. This inevitably meant restaurants interpret these guidelines differently. Lutes, for example, said all his staff are always wearing masks. He said even though it was not necessary, he also built a divider between the kitchen and the dining area, mostly to comfort the customers."Everybody has a different outlook on their own personal experience with COVID-19, some are scared to death still, and some are absolutely not," he said. "So just trying to sell, in our case, food to as many people within those groups as possible."Lutes said he's seen more people feel comfortable going out to eat at his restaurant, which is good news as he may be able to turn a profit for the first time in months.> We adjusted one way with closing the dine-in, and then we had to adjust the other way. \- Clément Dugas, cafe owner.Other places, like Moncton's Clementine Cafe, does not require their staff to wear masks unless they're interacting closely with a customer."I've never felt that customers are offended by that or feel in any way insecure about the staff not wearing masks behind the counter," said owner Clément Dugas.Dugas said he had one surprise inspection after someone called in a complaint about too many people being in his dining area at once.He said it was on one of the first weekends after the province eased restrictions. The inspector from WorkSafeNB and a provincial peace officer reviewed his plan and thought it was appropriate, he said. They left him with a warning to keep better control of occupancy in his cafe."We adjusted one way with closing the dine-in, and then we had to adjust the other way. So it was hard to control capacity and things like that, so there was a lot of adjusting going on."Luc Erjavec, the Atlantic vice-president of Restaurants Canada, said according to a national survey, 62 per cent of restaurants said that they are operating at a loss, 22 per cent said they were breaking even and about 16 per cent were profitable.Contact confusionThe province has been continuously amending the emergency declaration. On June 19, it added a clause that made it a requirement for all businesses with sit-down services to take down the name and contact information of every customer. This did not reach many restaurants."We started that yesterday," Lutes said on Thursday. "The details of the information was kind of lost in translation."Erjavec said he didn't know about this requirement until the first weekend in July."It's something we're beginning to communicate with our members," he said. "I didn't hear anything directly from the province."I don't know if we missed it or they missed it," he said. He said restaurants were already keeping a name and number for one member of a party, the person who makes the reservation. But this is "a step up a level."He said there are some patrons who don't want to give their names and numbers, but "I think in most cases people are understanding.""We're going to try to protect the information as best we can. We have to keep it for 14 days. And at that point it will either be destroyed or deleted."A spokesperson with the Public Safety said the change was made on June 19, but mentioned in a news release on June 26.In a scrum Wednesday Premier Blaine Higgs said if restaurant owners visited the government of New Brunswick website and didn't find this information, then something might be wrong. "If they're saying 'well it's not available', ok, then there may have been a problem, but if it's available and they haven't read it, you know, at some point everyone has to take their own responsibility to know what's new," Higgs said.Lutes said he doesn't check the emergency declaration every day, or every week. He said he counts on emails from industry organizations."How does this info trickle down? Especially as a business owner who, at the very best of times... has very limited time to make sure everything is checked off."Who does inspections?All 14,000 registered employers with WorkSafeNB received the guideline, said Department of Public Safety spokesperson Coreen Enos. These include restaurants, salons, and offices.She said the Department of Public Safety's health protection services and WorkSafeNB have collaborated to respond to inspections and complaints. She said public safety is responsible for food premises, takeouts, food trucks, day cares and "other pubic facing enterprises."She said WorkSafeNB handles inspections of businesses, such as manufacturing facilities and sawmills.She said frequency of restaurant inspections depends on past inspection history, population served, type of foods served and number of meals served daily. She said inspections can be on a set schedule or random, and can also be triggered by a public complaint."An example of something inadequate would be employees in a kitchen not wearing masks and not properly social distancing (6 feet / 2M) from each other," she wrote in an email. She said if if an inspector finds that a business is breaking the rules, they would be given a warning and 24-48 hours to correct the issues "depending on the nature of the non-compliance in the business or operation.""If the business/operation does not comply with the order issued they can be subsequently issued a fine."The department was asked for, but did not share, any figures of COVID-19-related fines, warnings, or infraction findings since dining–in was allowed.
With new coronavirus cases on a steady downward trend since early June, much of Ontario is poised to move to Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan soon, officials suggested this week.But it's not yet clear which emergency restrictions will actually be lifted or relaxed when that happens. Until now, the provincial government has described Stage 3 only in general terms: "Opening all workplaces responsibly" and "further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings."Premier Doug Ford declined Thursday to offer anything more specific."It's going to come very shortly, hopefully sooner than later," he told a news conference. This leaves plenty of open questions about precisely what Ontario's Stage 3 will look like. How large will public gatherings be? What restrictions will remain in place for bars and restaurants? Will cinemas or theatres be allowed to open? What about gyms and other fitness facilities? The only near-certainties about Stage 3 are: it will not bring the return of indoor events with the biggest crowds — such as concerts and spectator sports — and physical distancing guidelines will remain. Beyond those, Stage 3 restrictions could fall anywhere in a wide range.Restaurants In Ontario's Stage 2, restaurants are restricted to outdoor seating and take-out meals. Most provinces that have allowed restaurants to reopen fully have put limits in place, such as operating at lower-than-full capacity or minimum space between tables. Other measures could include Plexiglas between tables and having the restaurant keep a record of diners to aid public health tracing if any confirmed cases emerge among customers or staff. "There's only so much you can do [to prevent transmission] because of the nature of eating together," said Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont."There's going to be an inherent risk. But it's a risk that I would say is less than, say, an indoor nightclub." Bars and clubsQuebec on Thursday announced new restrictions on bars in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases on Montreal's South Shore. Bars are now limited to 50 per cent of their normal legal capacity, people must be in their seats to drink, dancing is banned, alcohol sales end at midnight and customers must be out the door by 1 a.m. ET.If Ontario allows bars to have customers indoors in Stage 3, they can almost certainly expect similar restrictions, according to public health experts. "Bars are a tough one because people go there to interact," said Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa."Restaurants are a bit easier in some ways because you don't go there to meet other people. You go there to eat with the people you came with."Cinemas, theatres, performance venuesThe pandemic has meant lights out for cinemas and performing arts across Ontario. The move to Stage 2 allowed the opening of drive-in cinemas, as well as performance venues where the audience stays in their cars. Sitting in seats could soon return to Ontario; cinema screenings resumed in British Columbia on July 3, with restrictions. "The main way that this virus is spread is when you have close contact for a prolonged period of time in an enclosed space," said Chakrabarti in an interview with CBC News."A movie theatre could open, but I guarantee you they're not going to be able to have full capacity. People will be spread out." Gyms, other indoor fitness facilitiesThe closure of gyms during the pandemic has been frustrating for those who see their workout as a key way to stay healthy. They will likely be opened in Ontario's Stage 3 but with "profound changes" to how they operate, said Deonandan."The services they offer will be minimal, and the number of people in any given portion of the gym will be restricted."While Deonandan believes pools pose little risk and weight machines can be made safe to use, spaces in which people are gathered close together and breathing heavily, such as aerobics or spin classes, could be too risky.Other Stage 3 considerations The maximum size of a social gathering in Ontario right now is 10. That will almost certainly be raised in Stage 3 but how high remains to be seen. Outdoor playgrounds will likely open after being closed for nearly four months. The province will also need to decide about the ongoing closure of other spaces that can attract crowds, such as casinos, amusement parks and convention centres. "Anything involving mass gatherings, particularly mass indoor gatherings, should remain off the table. Everything else is probably fair game," said Deonandan."We can make most businesses safe."Physical distancing should be the guiding principle for Stage 3, said Chakrabarti, with mask-wearing indoors when that two metres of space can't be maintained. At the same time, he said the public health goals on the novel coronavirus need to be realistic. "We are not looking for zero infections," he said."We're not going to eliminate COVID-19. We're just trying to keep things controlled."
As COVID-19 restrictions continue and travel remains difficult, many people in the capital region are looking to enjoy recreational activities closer to home.That's led some Ottawa businesses to report unprecedented demand for recreational items, while supply chain interruptions also mean they have little to no stock.We've already written about the current scarcity of RVs and bikes, but here are some other items you will likely have a hard time finding this summer. Canoes and kayaksIf you want a canoe or kayak, expect to wait until the fall. Beth Peterson, owner of Ottawa Valley Canoe and Kayak in Kinburn, said "everything" is flying off the shelves. She does have some personal watercraft on order, but as of Wednesday, she had not a single kayak in stock. That's because manufacturers closed during the pandemic and many items are on back order, Peterson said. "Customers are still ordering canoes and kayaks that won't be here until September," she said, calling the demand "unprecedented.""[It's] been the busiest time I've ever had in 35 years."Above-ground pools and hot tubsThe wait for a new hot tub will be a long one, too. And if you're looking for an above-ground pool, you might be out of luck entirely.Dave McNaughton, managing partner at Mermaid Pools and Hot Tubs, which has locations in Nepean and Orléans, said manufacturers are no longer accepting orders, and he's almost completely sold out of "everything that we carry."Along with hot tubs and above-ground pools, pool chemicals, filters and liners have been very popular. Pool liners used to take about a week for delivery, McNaughton said. This season, it will likely take up to 30 business days. "[People are] looking for somewhere to channel their kids' and their personal enjoyment, since they can't go anywhere," McNaughton said.His theory is that people who cancelled their trips and aren't paying for daycare or summer camps are "pouring their money into recreational items for their home." Customers shopping for a hot tub in mid-July can expect to get one in late September, at which point there should be a surplus, McNaughton said.Golf clubs, in-line skates, tennis rackets At Play It Again Sports in Kanata, manager Katrina Canriel said she's been seeing a lot of first-time golfers and in-line skaters.Junior sizes for in-line skates are all but gone, she said, as are paddleboards, golf and tennis equipment. Rollerskates are also seeing a bit of a comeback, Canriel said.Manufacturers aren't restocking items, she said, so she isn't expecting new summer stock to become available, and the store's second-hand inventory is very limited. "Anything that doesn't require a team-based sport has been just very popular and hard to come by," she said. Baseball and soccer equipment is normally in high demand in the summertime, but this year there's a lot of that stock still on the shelves, Canriel said. Home fitness equipmentIf you were hoping to put together a home gym, you could be in for a wait for those weights.Items such as dumbbells and barbell plates are in high demand, said Frank Kelly, president and owner of Kinetic Solutions, an Ottawa-based fitness equipment supplier. "The gyms are closed and there's obviously no immediate date when they're going to reopen," Kelly said. "When the gyms do reopen, we may not be able to access them like we used to."As a result, his own focus has shifted from commercial clients to individuals who s are suddenly "thinking about doing something at home."He said he's had a hard time keeping up with orders. "The list just keeps growing," Kelly said.And it's no better up the supply chain — some manufacturers got a year's worth of orders in two months, Kelly said. In past years, their lead time was four to five weeks. Now, it's up to 10 weeks. What items are you finding hard to buy this summer? We'd love to hear about it. Share your comments below.
YUBA CITY, Calif. — At a bus stop in Yuba City, Ron Starkey sat on a concrete wall watching videos on his phone, a white face mask tightly folded in his right hand.He wears the mask at work because his employers make him, and he wears it on the bus because his girlfriend asks him to. But he's not happy about it.“I think this is all a hoax,” Starkey, 57, said Thursday. “They are trying to distract everybody. They are trying to panic everybody. They are trying to control everybody. That's how I feel.”Sutter County, where Starkey lives, was one of the first places in California to more broadly reopen its economy. It and neighbouring Yuba County defied Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order to let restaurants, hair salons, gyms and a shopping mall reopen in early May.County leaders had passionately argued the two mostly rural counties shouldn't be under the same rules as Los Angeles and other major population centres. Their counties are filled with farmland ready-made for social distancing and at that point both counties had only a relative handful of cases and barely any hospitalizations.But two months later, the counties that together have a population of about 175,000 are averaging a combined 30 new cases per day — up from five at the beginning of June — with what the counties' shared public health director calls a “scary elevation of hospitalized cases” from seven to 21 in just one week.The rising numbers prompted state officials on Thursday to place Sutter and Yuba on a monitoring list of counties with rapidly increasing caseloads. If they stay there for three days all bars will close and restaurants and other businesses must halt indoor operations.“People are not taking it seriously,” Dr. Ngoc-Phuong Luu, Yuba-Sutter public health director, said Tuesday in an interview with KETQ radio. “People felt that we beat it and it went away. It never went away."California in March was the first state to impose a mandatory stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the virus. Public health officials praised the state's quick action, marveling at how the nation's most populous state kept its cases and hospitalizations low while states like New York and New Jersey struggled to contain the highly contagious disease.By late April Newsom was under increasing pressure to begin reopening the economy. Sutter and Yuba were among a few Northern California counties that didn't wait for him to act, pressing ahead with their own plans.Newsom criticized and threatened them but ultimately they stayed open. Newsom began slowly and then more quickly allowing businesses and activities to resume, citing the state's increased hospital capacity to handle a new surge of cases. Cases began rising in early June and have exploded since, increasing 48% in the past two weeks while hospitalizations have increased 40%.Now, 29 counties have been added to the state's watch list, requiring bars to close and indoor operations to cease at restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theatres, zoos, museums, cardrooms and family entertainment centres, which include bowling alleys, miniature golf and arcades.However, leaders in Yuba and Sutter counties are still asking for special treatment. A letter to Newsom signed by the chair of the Sutter County Board of Supervisors says their data shows most outbreaks trace back not to bars and restaurants, but to indoor gatherings of families and friends, most likely for things like graduation parties and Fourth of July get-togethers.“It seems unjust to close certain businesses at this economically perilous moment without evidence they are a significant factor in the spike in cases," the letter says.The California Department of Public Health's website says 40% of the cases in the counties are unknown because of “cases not able or unwilling to provide source of exposure.”The governor has not responded to the request, but he likely won't make an exception for the two counties about 30 miles (48.2 kilometres) north of the state capitol in Sacramento that, like most Northern California rural counties, lean Republican. This time, county leaders can't afford to cross Newsom. The state budget lawmakers approved last month gives the governor authority to withhold $2.5 billion in federal aid from local governments that don't comply with state public health orders.Sutter County is facing a roughly $5 million deficit and desperately needs the federal money, County Supervisor Mike Ziegenmeyer said.“I think the governor lost control, now he's trying to gain the control back,” Ziegenmeyer said.Businesses are bracing for another round of closures. Lori Pack, manager at Linda's Soda Bar and Grill on Plumas Street, said they did takeout-only for three weeks earlier this year and “it's just not sustainable.” They could do more outside dining, she said, but sidewalk space is small and the summer heat will keep people away.Residents are frustrated, including 50-year-old Billie Gamez, who was strolling the Yuba Sutter Mall on Thursday with her husband while wearing a face mask, which are required under an order Newsom imposed mid-June. She works at a WalMart and said she routinely sees people not wearing masks or social distancing.“It's such a simple thing to keep your mask on, so why has it become such a huge thing?" she said. “They want everything open, but you don't want to wear a mask. How stupid is that?”Shirley Gabhart said she wears a mask in public and turns down party invitations, including one this weekend to celebrate her grand nephew's birthday. But the 74-year-old said she doesn't see the virus as a threat, saying she believes Newsom, a Democrat, just wants to slow the economy to prevent President Donald Trump from being reelected in November.She sat at the the counter of Linda's Soda Bar and Grille, where she has been a regular customer for years. Gabhart said it would be “a horrible thing” for the state to force the restaurant to close its indoor dining, saying she wasn't worried about contracting the virus by eating in public.“God knows when I'm going to die,” she said. “These politicians don't know.”Adam Beam, The Associated Press
Baseball players got a sense of what the game will be like without fans in the stands upon returning for workouts last week.They're getting a more realistic glimpse this week as teams begin holding scrimmages.Yes, it's very strange.“It was surreal. ... just sitting behind the dish at a major league stadium with major league players on the field and no one else there and playing in competition,” Milwaukee Brewers general manager David Stearns said Thursday. “Occasionally, you’ll see that for a small BP when media isn’t around or cameras aren’t around, but it was really weird to see Christian Yelich in the batter’s box in a major league stadium in competition in an empty ballpark."Baseball returned for workouts last week after the season was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic during spring training. Teams have started ramping up their workouts in preparation for a 60-game season set to begin on July 23.The season will start without fans in the stands and will likely remain that way for a while as coronavirus hotspots continue to pop up across the country.“We’ll remember this season, going through it, for a long time because these are very unusual feelings for all of us to experience when we’re watching games like this,” Stearns said. "In terms of the actual game and the way that the game played out, I think it looked like normal baseball."The Boston Red Sox will try to make the atmosphere a little closer to normal by experimenting with piped-in noise, like leagues in Taiwan and Korea have done."So hopefully it won’t be quite as quiet. It is quiet today,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “I think we’re just constantly adjusting to things and trying to figure it out."UMPIRES RESPOND TO WESTUmpire Joe West faced backlash earlier this week after he said he doesn't believe all the deaths attributed to COVID-19 were from the virus.The Major League Baseball Umpires Association stepped back from West's comments with a statement issued on Thursday.“Recent public comments about the current Coronavirus pandemic do not in any way reflect the position of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association,” the statement said. “Our nation, and our world, has suffered greatly from this deadly virus. In the midst of continued suffering umpires are attempting to do our part to bring the great game of baseball back onto the field and into the homes of fans everywhere.”POSEY STILL OUTSan Francisco catcher Buster Posey was gone from Giants’ workouts for a second straight day and third in all while dealing with a personal issue.Posey said last weekend he still had some reservations about playing this year amid the pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler wouldn’t say whether Posey had indicated that was the reason for his absence.“Buster is still working through a personal issue. I want to respect his privacy,” Kapler said.CESPEDES HOMERSYoenis Cespedes launched a two-run homer off Seth Lugo during the Mets’ intrasquad game at Citi Field. Rather than trot around the bases after the ball cleared the fence, Cespedes simply walked back to the dugout.The 34-year-old slugger missed last season and most of 2018 due to a string of injuries. He had surgery on both heels and then broke his ankle in a fall at his Florida ranch. The two-time All-Star said in February he finally expected to be ready to play this year, and he’s looked healthy and dangerous in the batter’s box since summer camp opened last Friday.It seems his only remaining hurdle is showing he can sprint full speed without issue.REYES APOLOGIZESThe Cleveland Indians kept outfielder Franmil Reyes away from camp after he was spotted on social media attending a Fourth of July gathering.Reyes was allowed to resume on-field activities on Wednesday after being re-tested twice and apologized for putting himself and his teammates at risk."I really apologize, because I was not protecting myself and my teammates,” he said on Thursday. “I learned from it and it won’t happen again. I really don’t want to stop practicing. I really apologize and I swear it won’t happen again.”HOPEFUL RANGERSTexas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said All-Star slugger Joey Gallo and lefty reliever Brett Martin are both feeling good but still haven’t been cleared to start working out with the team.Both tested positive for the coronavirus during intake testing last week. Daniels said Gallo was still asymptomatic and that Martin, who has Type 1 diabetes, is feeling better every day after initially having mild symptoms, including congestion and fatigue.“I am hopeful they won’t be out much longer,” Daniels said, without elaborating.NO SPITTINGOne of the new rules during the pandemic is the prohibition of spitting to prevent the virus from spreading.Following the rule is not as easy as it sounds. Players have actually been practicing not spitting.“That’s a big thing for me. I do dip some tobacco. I’ll have to change that up, maybe go to gum more often," the Marlins' Garrett Cooper said. "That’s the natural thing for a baseball player to do, spit. That’s what they’ve been doing their whole lives — gum, sunflower seeds, a lot of guys dip tobacco. It’s part of your normal protocol. Maybe it helps people calm down. I’ve caught myself a few times. I start to spit and go, ‘Oh man, I can’t do this now.’ It’s something you’ve got to get used to.”EXTRA WORKAltanta starter Mike Foltynewicz looked sharp in three innings of a controlled scrimmage, which he credited to workouts he participated in at nearby Campbell High School with Mike Soroka and Sean Newcomb, during the long break. He’s been throwing six times a week and pitching bullpens.“We got really lucky to be able to go to that school and throw every day,” Foltynewicz said. “It was difficult just to get in gyms and get in the parks to throw. It was tough. Me, Newk, Mike. We had a bunch of guys come in, left- and right-(handed hitters), just to stay ready. At any time MLB could’ve started us back up and we could’ve had to ship right out to spring training.”___AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Milwaukee, Stephen Hawkins in Dallas, George Henry in Atlanta, Jimmy Golen in Boston, Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Mike Fitzpatrick in New York contributed to this report.___More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsJohn Marshall, The Associated Press
LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivia’s interim president and Venezuela’s No. 2 leader announced Thursday that they have been infected with the new coronavirus, just days after Brazil’s leader tested positive as the pandemic hits hard at some of Latin America’s political elite.Three Cabinet ministers in the administration of Bolivian leader Jeanine Áñez have also tested positive for the virus, including Health Minister Eidy Roca and Presidency Minister Yerko Nuñez, who is hospitalized.The infections in Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia, which is seeing a spike in cases, come after Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández tested positive in June and was briefly hospitalized.Áñez said she will remain in isolation for 14 days when another test will be done, but she will continue to work remotely from the presidential residence.“I feel good, I feel strong,” she wrote on her Twitter account.Bolivia’s Health Ministry says the Andean country has 42,984 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,577 deaths, and is seeing a rebound in the number of new cases amid reports that hospitals are being overwhelmed in some regions. In the highland city of Cochabamba, scenes have emerged of bodies lying in the streets and coffins waiting for days in homes to be taken away.Bolivia is scheduled to hold a presidential election Sept. 6. Áñez is running third in opinion polls. Former Economy Minister Luis Arce, who represents the party of ousted President Evo Morales, is in front, with ex-President Carlos Mesa in second.In Venezuela, meanwhile, socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello revealed that he had tested positive for COVID-19, making him the highest-ranking leader in the distressed South American nation thus far to come down with the virus.Cabello is considered the second-most powerful person in Venezuela after President Nicolás Maduro and made the announcement on Twitter, stating that he is isolated, getting treatment and will overcome the illness.“We will win!” he wrote in conclusion.Economically struggling Venezuela is considered one of the world’s least prepared countries to confront the pandemic. Hospitals are routinely short on basic supplies like water, electricity and medicine.The nation has registered considerably fewer COVID-19 cases than others in the region, but the number of infections has grown in recent weeks. As of Wednesday, the government had reported 8,010 confirmed cases and 75 deaths.Cabello was last seen Tuesday, when he met with South Africa’s ambassador, Joseph Nkosi. Photographs released by the government showed him standing alongside and bumping fists with the diplomat while wearing a black mask.The 57-year-old politician is head of the National Constituent Assembly, an all-powerful legislative body created by Maduro’s government in 2017. He had missed his weekly television program Wednesday, stating at the time that he was “fighting against a strong allergy” and resting.Maduro said in a broadcast Thursday that Cabello’s diagnosis was confirmed with a molecular exam — a test that is usually conducted with a nasal swab sample. Venezuela has done far fewer of these tests than neighbouring countries, instead largely deploying rapid blood antibody tests. Some experts fear that relying so heavily on the rapid tests, which don’t detect signs of illness early in an infection, means cases are being missed.“Venezuela is with Diosdado,” Maduro said. “I am sure soon enough we will continue on in this fight.”In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Tuesday.He appeared Thursday on an online broadcast from the presidential residence as defiant as on previous occasions. He coughed once, but did not show other symptoms of the disease that has killed more than 69,000 people in the South American nation.Bolsonaro repeated his view that the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic is more dangerous than the coronavirus itself. He insisted that mayors and governors need to reopen the country for business.“We need governors and mayors, within their responsibilities, to reopen commerce. Otherwise the consequences will be harmful for Brazil,” Bolsonaro said, wearing a gray shirt and sitting comfortably in front of two national flags.Paola Flores, The Associated Press
A racist tirade caught on camera in Mississauga, Ont. on Tuesday has gone viral after a white, non-mask wearing man berated staff at T&T Supermarket who told him he couldn’t shop at the store without a face covering.
EDMONTON — Three more patients linked to a COVID-19 outbreak at an Edmonton hospital have died.Catholic health provider Covenant Health, which runs the Misericordia Community Hospital in the city's west end, says a total of six patients have now died due to the outbreak.It says 16 other patients have tested positive, along with 16 staff.Health officials declared a full outbreak at the facility on Wednesday and said it would not be admitting new patients.Health Minister Tyler Shandro says his thoughts are with the families of the patients who have died.He says his department is monitoring the outbreak and he has full confidence that measures are in place to prevent further spread of infections."Our hospitals remain safe, and this outbreak is being managed as safely and effectively as possible," he said Thursday in a statement posted on Twitter."I know the physicians, staff and volunteers at the Misericordia are working extremely hard in challenging circumstances, and I thank them for the care they're providing."The 312-bed hospital also closed its emergency department, is not allowing visitors, except in end-of-life situations, and is postponing day procedures.Dr. Owen Heisler, chief medical officer for Covenant Health, said in a release that the safety of everyone at the hospital is a priority."Covenant Health, Alberta Health Services and our teams continue to work tirelessly and collaboratively, taking every possible step to respond with compassion to this challenging situation and to ensure a safe environment for care."On Thursday, the province reported 37 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 8,519 infections in Alberta. There are 584 active cases and 46 people are in hospital. So far, 161 people have died.Alberta's privacy commissioner also released her report Thursday into the province's voluntary COVID-19 tracing smartphone app.Jill Clayton said the ABTraceTogether app collects among the least amount of personal information compared to similar technologies around the world. It tracks anyone the user is in close contact with and alerts them if they have been near someone who tests positive for COVID-19.But when it comes to Apple cellphones, Clayton said the app only runs on those devices when they are unlocked, which increases the risk of theft of personal information. The risk increases for employers in the public, health and private sectors that provide workers with Apple phones, she said.Clayton recommended the province publicly report on the use and effectiveness of the app and its plans to dismantle it when the pandemic is over.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020The Canadian Press
Yukon's campgrounds have been busy this year, and that has some people concerned about physical distancing — or the lack of it. Last weekend, the Pine Lake Campground and day-use area near Haines Junction was packed."There were just people everywhere," said Flo Kushniruk, who lives in Haines Junction. "And the number of people on the beach — I was born and raised in the Yukon ... and I don't think I have ever seen that beach and that parking lot that packed."Kushniruk went to Pine Lake on the weekend hoping to launch her kayak. She found a line of people trying to go into the campground."There was absolutely nowhere to park. We saw a camper van that was literally pulled into the ditch," she said.Kushniruk said she even saw American licence plates. Americans are permitted to transit through Yukon to or from Alaska, but are advised not to stop over in territorial campgrounds.Kushniruk ended up going to nearby Pine Creek to launch her kayak. Once on the water, she had a good view of the crowded beach. "I never saw it that busy," she said.Kushniruk says there should be more monitoring of government campgrounds to keep the numbers down. She feels that a lot of people are looking for a weekend getaway, and that means physical distancing can be difficult. She is worried that any case of COVID-19 would be devastating to her small community of about 1,000 people.She said Pine Lake Campground is her town's playground and she doesn't want to see it closed down. 'A really busy year'Yukon government officials confirm that this year has been busy for camping. Many territorial campgrounds are full every weekend. "We regularly patrol and respond where we can. But I will emphasize it has been a really busy year," says Mike Etches, director of Yukon Parks. Etches says people have to continue to be careful and observe public health guidelines."Just because you can now have a gathering of up to 50 people outdoors, think about the people you are interacting with. Just go back to those 'safe six,' to guide you and your behaviours," he said, referring to the Yukon government's six steps to staying safe — one of them being physical distancing."That does you well in a campground," Etches said. Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Community Services Minister John Streicker also acknowledged that some recreation spots in the territory have been busy — including Pine Lake, the Tagish Bridge Recreation Site, and the Bennett Lake beach in Carcross — and that it's a concern for some residents.He urged people to be flexible, and change plans if they have to."If you arrive at a recreation spot and it is busy or crowded, consider moving on to another area. If there is not space for you to set up two metres away from others, then it is not the day to use this place," Streicker said."I appreciate how hard that can be, especially if you have travelled a distance to get there."
It could take more than 15 years for the Edmonton region to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, finance experts told city council this week.The city released a 'reimagine' plan Wednesday, outlining the present challenges and possible approaches to navigating the short-term and long-term recovery.Interim city manager Adam Laughlin said before COVID, the city was already struggling from the 2015-16 recession, from which it didn't fully recover."In the next 10 years, it is highly unlikely for Edmonton to return to levels experienced in 2014 and prior," Laughlin told council Wednesday. During 14 years of oil and gas booms between 2000 and 2014, the city expanded in structure, staff, and service to a size it can no longer afford, Laughlin said. "There is a need to right-size and reform the city to correspond with this new reality."By the end of this year, Laughlin predicts the city will be short $172 million on its $3-billion operating budget.That's the probable scenario. In the best case, the shortfall would be $151 million, and in the worst case, the city could be short up to $252 million by the end of this year."The COVID-19 pandemic has changed and is changing our city permanently," Laughlin said after the council meeting. "Both the community and the local government that serves it." In finding ways to reduce expenses and increase revenues, the city will look at reducing, cutting or privatizing services — public transit, mowing sports fields, fire services and collecting garbage. Laughlin said everything is on the table.Eliminating services could be "part of the discussion," he said. "If we have a particular service that is a very high standard, in this tough economic time, should it be to that standard or should it be to a lower standard?"Mayor Don Iveson supports administration's approach."Edmontonians are going to have to be patient with their city," Iveson said. "Understand that we can't get back to pre-COVID-19 levels of services in many service areas."For example, he said reopening recreation centres with fewer people allowed in has increased the costs of running them."COVID distancing requirements are hitting our operations, like they're hitting businesses, like they're hitting other governments." The city will also explore options for the private sector to take over some services. Laughlin noted that many businesses and residents will continue to struggle to pay property taxes this year and next. "Significant tax increases are not an option in this environment," he said.Jobs on the lineThe city's 'reimagine' plan includes considering changes to workplace policies, salaries and positions. The city's chief financial officer, Mary Persson, said as services are likely to be reduced, the costs to deliver them also need to go down.That means reevaluating jobs, Persson and Laughlin both said. The city will immediately start to study their staffing levels, referred to as full-time equivalents or FTEs."Wage settlements and personnel costs are the largest cost-drivers to the organization," Persson told council. "Under fiscal constraints, the city will need to review its FTE complement."The city laid off 3,000 people in March and April as it closed recreation centres and libraries, provided free public transit and stopped charging for parking. "These were the right decisions," Laughlin said, "and they had a price." Increased cleaning on transit and buying more personal protective equipment also added to costs. Of the spring layoffs, 350 people returned to their original positions this week. Laughlin and his team are expected to present specific financial measures to council in the fall. @natashariebe