Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 727 new COVID-19 cases; Ontario’s MOH making announcement on capacity limits on sports venues

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.10:15 a.m.: Ontario reporting 727 new COVID-19 cases. Of those cases, 557 are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 170 are in fully vaccinated individuals. There are currently 308 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province.9:33 a.m. The handwritten tributes are addressed, variously, to Mom, Mama, Mommy, Grandma, Nana, Great Grandma. To Dad, Papa, Pawpaw. To beloved brother, dear sister, Auntie Linda, Uncle Rod, Reverend.“My Hero.”“My Perfect Love Ray.”“To the love of my life.”“To the best kid ever.”There are so many of them, some scrawled almost illegibly and some carefully printed in neat block lettering. Some with little drawings of hearts or crosses, a Ferris wheel, a happy face. A few with photos stapled to them. So many, each a tear of specific, individual loss cried into an ocean of grief.Read what the Star’s Washington Bureau Chief Ed Keenan saw at America’s memorial for the victims of COVID-199:15 a.m. The city has partnered with Toronto Public Health, University Health Network, Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. and Oxford Properties Group to hold a number of mobile clinics in malls across Toronto this weekend.The following clinics will be held Saturday and Sunday, between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. and will offer first and second COVID-19 vaccines doses:CF Fairview Mall – 1800 Sheppard Ave E.CF Sherway Gardens – 25 The West MallCF Shops at Don Mills – 1090 Don Mills Rd.CF Toronto Eaton Centre – 220 Yonge St.Yorkdale Shopping Centre – 3401 Dufferin St.The clinics were selected as part of the Team Toronto Mobile Strategy data to bring vaccines to residents in areas and settings that have low vaccination coverage, or who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, or both. 9:10 a.m. Ontario administered 46,550 COVID-19 vaccines — the highest daily dose count in over a month, according to a tweet from Premier Doug Ford. 9:05 a.m. Two tea houses in one southern Alberta community have become an example of the uncertainty caused by the government allowing businesses to make up their own minds about what is essentially a vaccine passport.Restaurants, bars and pubs have been debating whether they will require a vaccination record before patrons are allowed to enter or if they will limit them to patios and takeout.Last week, Premier Jason Kenney brought in a “restrictions exemption program” that allows owners to operate with almost no COVID-19 rules as long as they ask for proof of vaccination. Those that choose not to must abide by stricter public health rules.The United Conservative government has been criticized for downloading the decision. Critics say it causes confusion and forces compliant businesses to face the wrath of anti-vaccination customers.8:47 a.m. Many Americans struggling to feed their families over the past pandemic year say they have had difficulty figuring out how to get help and had trouble finding healthy foods they can afford.A poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds 23 per cent of Americans say they have not been able to get enough to eat or the kinds of foods they want. Most of those facing food challenges enrolled in a government or nonprofit food assistance program in the past year, but 58 per cent still had difficulty accessing at least one service.And 21 per cent of adults facing challenges meeting their food needs were unable to access any assistance at all. The most common challenge to those in need was a basic lack of awareness of eligibility for both government and nonprofit services.8:30 a.m. Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore will be making an announcement on sports venue capacities on Friday at 2:30 p.m.8 a.m. Hamilton public health has declared three COVID-19 outbreaks at elementary schools in three days.An outbreak was declared at Lawfield Elementary School on the east Mountain on Wednesday after two students tested positive for the virus.An outbreak was also declared at South Meadow Elementary School in Stoney Creek, where there are three student cases.7:40 a.m. Health officials are asking anyone who attended a Kingston, Ont., polling station on Monday night to monitor for signs of COVID-19 after a positive case was linked to the site.The local public health unit issued a notice Thursday for those who went to the polling station at St. Luke's Anglican Church between 9 p.m. and midnight.It says people should watch for symptoms for 10 days and get tested for the virus if any emerge.The health unit also says it will do contact tracing to alert close contacts of the person infected.7:30 a.m. Region of Peel council is going to be sending a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking him to ban anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters from gathering outside schools and hospitals.“Quite frankly, it’s disg

Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 727 new COVID-19 cases; Ontario’s MOH making announcement on capacity limits on sports venues

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

10:15 a.m.: Ontario reporting 727 new COVID-19 cases. Of those cases, 557 are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 170 are in fully vaccinated individuals. There are currently 308 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province.

9:33 a.m. The handwritten tributes are addressed, variously, to Mom, Mama, Mommy, Grandma, Nana, Great Grandma. To Dad, Papa, Pawpaw. To beloved brother, dear sister, Auntie Linda, Uncle Rod, Reverend.

“My Hero.”

“My Perfect Love Ray.”

“To the love of my life.”

“To the best kid ever.”

There are so many of them, some scrawled almost illegibly and some carefully printed in neat block lettering. Some with little drawings of hearts or crosses, a Ferris wheel, a happy face. A few with photos stapled to them. So many, each a tear of specific, individual loss cried into an ocean of grief.

Read what the Star’s Washington Bureau Chief Ed Keenan saw at America’s memorial for the victims of COVID-19

9:15 a.m. The city has partnered with Toronto Public Health, University Health Network, Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. and Oxford Properties Group to hold a number of mobile clinics in malls across Toronto this weekend.

The following clinics will be held Saturday and Sunday, between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. and will offer first and second COVID-19 vaccines doses:

  • CF Fairview Mall – 1800 Sheppard Ave E.

  • CF Sherway Gardens – 25 The West Mall

  • CF Shops at Don Mills – 1090 Don Mills Rd.

  • CF Toronto Eaton Centre – 220 Yonge St.

  • Yorkdale Shopping Centre – 3401 Dufferin St.

The clinics were selected as part of the Team Toronto Mobile Strategy data to bring vaccines to residents in areas and settings that have low vaccination coverage, or who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, or both.

9:10 a.m. Ontario administered 46,550 COVID-19 vaccines — the highest daily dose count in over a month, according to a tweet from Premier Doug Ford.

9:05 a.m. Two tea houses in one southern Alberta community have become an example of the uncertainty caused by the government allowing businesses to make up their own minds about what is essentially a vaccine passport.

Restaurants, bars and pubs have been debating whether they will require a vaccination record before patrons are allowed to enter or if they will limit them to patios and takeout.

Last week, Premier Jason Kenney brought in a “restrictions exemption program” that allows owners to operate with almost no COVID-19 rules as long as they ask for proof of vaccination. Those that choose not to must abide by stricter public health rules.

The United Conservative government has been criticized for downloading the decision. Critics say it causes confusion and forces compliant businesses to face the wrath of anti-vaccination customers.

8:47 a.m. Many Americans struggling to feed their families over the past pandemic year say they have had difficulty figuring out how to get help and had trouble finding healthy foods they can afford.

A poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds 23 per cent of Americans say they have not been able to get enough to eat or the kinds of foods they want. Most of those facing food challenges enrolled in a government or nonprofit food assistance program in the past year, but 58 per cent still had difficulty accessing at least one service.

And 21 per cent of adults facing challenges meeting their food needs were unable to access any assistance at all. The most common challenge to those in need was a basic lack of awareness of eligibility for both government and nonprofit services.

8:30 a.m. Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore will be making an announcement on sports venue capacities on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

8 a.m. Hamilton public health has declared three COVID-19 outbreaks at elementary schools in three days.

An outbreak was declared at Lawfield Elementary School on the east Mountain on Wednesday after two students tested positive for the virus.

An outbreak was also declared at South Meadow Elementary School in Stoney Creek, where there are three student cases.

7:40 a.m. Health officials are asking anyone who attended a Kingston, Ont., polling station on Monday night to monitor for signs of COVID-19 after a positive case was linked to the site.

The local public health unit issued a notice Thursday for those who went to the polling station at St. Luke's Anglican Church between 9 p.m. and midnight.

It says people should watch for symptoms for 10 days and get tested for the virus if any emerge.

The health unit also says it will do contact tracing to alert close contacts of the person infected.

7:30 a.m. Region of Peel council is going to be sending a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking him to ban anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters from gathering outside schools and hospitals.

“Quite frankly, it’s disgusting for people to go and protest outside of a hospital,” said Coun. Pat Saito, who put forward the idea after seeing the policy tabled in Quebec.

She said the main concern is protesters blocking hospital doors, ambulance bays and parking lots, obstructing patients and staff.

7:15 a.m. Alaska’s unprecedented COVID-19 crisis escalated Thursday with the state reporting seven new deaths, a record 1,330 new cases and a near-record 209 hospitalizations.

It’s the third time in two weeks that the daily record has been broken: The previous highs were recorded Wednesday, with 1,251 cases, and Sept. 15, with 1,095 cases.

The recent surge has meant the state is still working through a backlog of cases, said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist.

“At this point, there’s no indication that I’ve seen that we are leveling off,” he said.

Over the last week, Alaska saw a 29% increase in cases, state data showed.

By Thursday there were 209 people hospitalized around the state with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a state dashboard. That’s a near record, and far above last winter’s previous peak.

6 a.m.: Jackie Logie knew something wasn’t right when her 14-year-old Labrador retriever Flinstone suddenly stopped walking last month.

She already had a yearly appointment with a veterinarian booked the following week — one that took her almost a month to land — but when she tried to move it up, she was unsuccessful. The clinic suggested she call around to other places but warned she’d face similar challenges.

Before COVID-19, she had never been faced with a wait even for small issues. But long waits for emergency and routine treatment have become standard as vets wrangle surging pet ownership and staff shortages. Both have been worsened by the pandemic. People are adopting pets more than ever. And staffing shortages, a growing problem for years, is now so bad retired vets are even being called back into service.

Read the full story from the Star’s Simran Singh, Dorcas Marfo and Ivy Mak.

5:58 a.m.: The head of Alberta’s health system says the COVID-19 hospital crisis has become so dire, a key reason the system hasn’t collapsed is because patients are dying.

“Each day we see a new high (total of critically ill patients),” Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, said Thursday.

Yiu said hospitals have admitted two dozen or more critically ill COVID-19 patients on average each day since Sunday.

“It’s tragic that we are only able to keep pace with these sort of numbers because in part some of our ICU patients have passed away,” she said. “This reality has a deep and lasting impact on our ICU teams.”

There were 310 patients Thursday in intensive care, the vast majority of them with COVID, and the vast majority of the COVID patients are not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all.

Alberta normally has 173 ICU beds, but has doubled that number to 350 by taking over extra spaces, such as operating rooms, and reassigning staff.

The result is non-urgent surgeries have been cancelled en masse across the province, including transplants, tumours, cancer operations and surgeries on children.

Physicians are being briefed in case resources get so short, they have to decide on the spot which patients get life-saving care and which don’t.

Yiu said it’s a fluid situation and they’re still determining when and how doctors will be asked to make those life-and-death decisions.

5:57 a.m.: Using its own vaccines, Cuba expects to reach “full immunization” against COVID-19 by the end of the year, the president of the island nation whose 11 million citizens have long been isolated by the American embargo, told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez devoted much of his recorded address to fulminating against the United States for what he called its policies of economic coercion and deprivation, which he said were meant “to erase the Cuban revolution from the political map to the world.”

But he also extolled Cuba’s medical and scientific communities for what he described as their heroic achievements in creating vaccines to combat the pandemic. More than one-third of the Cuban population has been fully vaccinated with them, he said.

5:56 a.m.: A Florida school district has received cash from President Joe Biden’s administration to make up for state pay cuts imposed over a board’s vote for a student anti-coronavirus mask mandate.

Alachua County school Superintendent Carlee Simon said in a news release Thursday the district has received $148,000 through a U.S. Department of Education program.

Simon says Alachua, where Gainesville and the University of Florida are located, is the first district in the nation to receive such a grant.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and state education officials have begun cutting salaries paid to school board members in Florida who voted to require masks for students. DeSantis favours allowing parents to decide whether their children wear face coverings and is in the midst of court battles over this broader issue.

About a dozen school boards in Florida, representing more than half the state’s students, have voted to defy the state ban on mask mandates despite Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to withhold some of their funding.

5:55 a.m.: South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus since the start of the pandemic as people returned from the country’s biggest holiday of the year.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said more than 1,750 of the 2,434 new cases reported Friday were from the greater capital area, where officials have raised concern over an erosion in citizen vigilance despite the enforcement of the strongest social distancing rules short of a lockdown since July.

It was expected that transmissions would worsen beyond the capital region during the Chuseok holidays, the Korean version of Thanksgiving which began on the weekend and continued through Wednesday, a period when millions usually travel across the country to meet relatives.

“It will be crucial to maintain the effectiveness of our anti-virus campaign throughout next week, when the effect of increased travel during the holidays will manifest more clearly,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said during a virus briefing.

The restrictions in the Seoul metropolitan area prevents gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m. unless the participants are fully vaccinated. Officials have said people’s exhaustion and frustration with social distancing are becoming an increasing challenge in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

The country has now reported a daily increase of more than 1,000 for 80 straight days. It’s previous one-day record was 2,221 reported on Aug. 11.

5:55 a.m.: Australia’s two largest cities are moving closer to ending lockdowns as vaccination rates climb, but leaders are warning that people should remain cautious with their new-found freedoms and that coronavirus case numbers will inevitably rise.

In New South Wales state, where an outbreak continues to grow in Sydney, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has set a target of reopening on Oct. 11 once vaccination milestones are reached.

But she said Friday it would need to be done “with a degree of caution and responsibility” because otherwise too many people would end up in hospitals. Meanwhile in Victoria State, where there is an outbreak in Melbourne,

Health Minister Martin Foley said there had been a “tremendous” increase in vaccinations and there was “no shortage of enthusiasm” among people wanting to get jabs.

Health officials in New South Wales reported 1,043 new cases and 11 deaths on Friday, while officials in Victoria reported 733 new cases and one death.

5:52 a.m.: Two tea houses in one southern Alberta community have become an example of the uncertainty caused by the government allowing businesses to make up their own minds about what is essentially a vaccine passport.

Restaurants, bars and pubs have been debating whether they will require a vaccination record before patrons are allowed to enter or if they will limit them to patios and takeout.

Last week, Premier Jason Kenney brought in a “restrictions exemption program” that allows owners to operate with almost no COVID-19 rules as long as they ask for proof of vaccination. Those that choose not to must abide by stricter public health rules.

The United Conservative government has been criticized for downloading the decision. Critics say it causes confusion and forces compliant businesses to face the wrath of anti-vaccination customers.

Read the full story from the Canadian Press here.

5:52 a.m.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening a major new phase in the U.S vaccination drive against COVID-19.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday.

The advisers said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.

However, Walensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel had rejected.

The panel on Thursday voted against saying that people can get a booster if they are ages 18 to 64 years and are health-care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of being exposed to the virus.

But Walensky disagreed and put that recommendation back in, noting that such a move aligns with an FDA booster authorization decision earlier this week. The category she included covers people who live in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, as well as health care workers.

The panel had offered the option of a booster for those ages 18 to 49 who have chronic health problems and want one. But the advisers refused to go further and open boosters to otherwise healthy front-line health care workers who aren’t at risk of severe illness but want to avoid even a mild infection.

The panel voted 9 to 6 to reject that proposal. But Walensky decided to disregard the advisory committee’s counsel on that issue. In a decision several hours after the panel adjourned, Walensky issued a statement saying she had restored the recommendation.

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou appearing in court Friday to resolve charges, report says

OTTAWA—A news report that U.S. justice officials are about to sign a deferred prosecution agreement with Huawei Technologies’ executive Meng Wanzhou means the long-running extradition dispute over Canada’s arrest of the Chinese corporate star could finally end.It could ultimately lead to a breakthrough in the cases of the “two Michaels” — Kovrig and Spavor — who remain jailed in China, the latter convicted on national security charges and Kovrig, the Canadian diplomat on leave, who remains in limbo.Reuters reported Friday that Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver since her Dec. 2018 arrest on a U.S. extradition warrant, is to make a surprise virtual appearance in a New York courtroom.Canadian officials would not immediately confirm the report.However, if the reports are true, the U.S. authorities would have to formally withdraw the request made through Global Affairs.Meng’s arrest, and unrelated allegations that Huawei has also been stealing American intellectual property, have become a major irritant between the U.S. and China, two superpower economies. Canada has been caught between them.U.S. authorities charged Meng with fraud, based on allegations she misled HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against that country.Based on those charges, the RCMP arrested Meng in Vancouver, and days later Chinese authorities arrested Michael Kovrig, who was a Canadian diplomat on leave working with International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, a China-based Canadian businessman who worked to build business ties with South Korea. Meng has been under house arrest, out on bail, and living in one of her two glamourous Vancouver mansions.If all charges are dropped, as well as the extradition request, she could be free to leave Canada as early as Friday.A Canadian justice department official told the Star that "We are aware of the current situation in the United States regarding Meng Wanzhou," but directed all questions on "the specifics of this proceeding should be direted to the U.S. Department of Justice."The Prime Minister's Office refused any comment on the developments.More to come.Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou appearing in court Friday to resolve charges, report says

OTTAWA—A news report that U.S. justice officials are about to sign a deferred prosecution agreement with Huawei Technologies’ executive Meng Wanzhou means the long-running extradition dispute over Canada’s arrest of the Chinese corporate star could finally end.

It could ultimately lead to a breakthrough in the cases of the “two Michaels” — Kovrig and Spavor — who remain jailed in China, the latter convicted on national security charges and Kovrig, the Canadian diplomat on leave, who remains in limbo.

Reuters reported Friday that Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver since her Dec. 2018 arrest on a U.S. extradition warrant, is to make a surprise virtual appearance in a New York courtroom.

Canadian officials would not immediately confirm the report.

However, if the reports are true, the U.S. authorities would have to formally withdraw the request made through Global Affairs.

Meng’s arrest, and unrelated allegations that Huawei has also been stealing American intellectual property, have become a major irritant between the U.S. and China, two superpower economies. Canada has been caught between them.

U.S. authorities charged Meng with fraud, based on allegations she misled HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against that country.

Based on those charges, the RCMP arrested Meng in Vancouver, and days later Chinese authorities arrested Michael Kovrig, who was a Canadian diplomat on leave working with International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, a China-based Canadian businessman who worked to build business ties with South Korea.

Meng has been under house arrest, out on bail, and living in one of her two glamourous Vancouver mansions.

If all charges are dropped, as well as the extradition request, she could be free to leave Canada as early as Friday.

A Canadian justice department official told the Star that "We are aware of the current situation in the United States regarding Meng Wanzhou," but directed all questions on "the specifics of this proceeding should be direted to the U.S. Department of Justice."

The Prime Minister's Office refused any comment on the developments.

More to come.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Source : Toronto Star More   

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