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‘Giddy-up’, said TSA agent pulling Native woman’s braids

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Tara Houska (right) protesting in Washington DC alongside actor Joaquin PhoenixImage copyright
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Tara Houska (right) protesting in Washington DC alongside actor Joaquin Phoenix

The US airports security agency has apologised to a Native American activist after an inspector pulled her hair and said “giddy-up”.

Tara Houska was travelling through the Minneapolis, Minnesota, airport when the incident took place during a security screening.

“My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that she was “humiliated”.

“My braids are not reins,” she tweeted to her more than 30,000 followers.

Ms Houska, a prominent activist and lawyer, was returning from a climate march in Washington DC, where she protested alongside celebrities Jane Fonda and Joaquin Phoenix.

What exactly happened?

A member of the Ojibwe tribe, she wrote that a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent was checking her braids for weapons as she headed home to Bemidji in northern Minnesota.

But instead of simply conducting the standard check, “she pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said ‘giddyup!’ as she snapped my braids like reins” on a horse, she wrote.

“My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your ‘fun’ hurt.”

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Ms Houska (second left, front row) with actresses Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon at the climate change protest

“When I informed the middle-aged blonde woman who had casually used her authority to dehumanise and disrespect me, she said, ‘well it was just in fun, I’m sorry. Your hair is lovely.'”

“That is NOT an apology and it is NOT okay,” she wrote.

In interviews, Ms Houska said she does not want the TSA agent fired, but instead hopes the agency will improve its sensitivity training.

Writing for Indian Country Today in 2015, Ms Houska wrote: “Excepting slight trims, my hair will only be cut if a traumatic event occurs, such as the passing of a relative.”

Hair styles are known to be culturally important to many Native American tribes. For the Ojibwe people, hair is considered to be medicine, according to Ojibwe elder Larry Moose.

How did the TSA respond?

TSA’s federal security director for Minnesota, Cliff Van Leuven, spoke to Ms Houska and apologised on behalf of the inspector and the agency.

Mr Van Leuven acknowledged to staff that a “mistake” had been made and vowed to “learn from this”.

“Did it actually happen? Yes. Exactly as described? Yes,” he wrote in an internal email later released to local media.

Ms Houska tweeted that she pleased with the outcome.

“Good resolution from a bad situation. We need more education & empathy for one another,” she said.



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Ontario to end academic streaming, suspensions for youngest students

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After years of calls from some educators and advocacy groups to end the practice, the Ontario government says it will do away with academic streaming in Grade 9.

Streaming — in which students must choose to pursue either an “academic” or “applied” track when they begin high school — has been shown to disproportionately affect Black and low-income students when it comes to graduation rates and the chance of going to a post-secondary institution.

Details of the province’s decision were first published in the Toronto Star on Monday morning. In an exclusive interview with the newspaper, Education Minister Stephen Lecce called streaming a “systemic, racist, discriminatory” practice.

A spokesperson for the minister said that the full plan to eliminate streaming will be rolled out shortly, and it is expected to take effect by the 2021-2022 school year. 

Ontario is one of the few places in Canada that continues to separate students into the hands-on applied stream and the post-secondary-track academic stream as they start high school.

A 2017 report led by York University professor Carl James found that Black teens in the Greater Toronto Area were being streamed into applied course tracks at significantly higher rates than other students.

Fifty-three per cent of Black students were in academic programs as compared to 81 per cent of white and 80 per cent of other so-called racialized students, meaning those who are part of other visible minorities. Conversely, 39 per cent of Black students were enrolled in applied programs, compared to 18 per cent of other racialized groups and 16 per cent of white students.

Meanwhile, a 2015 report from the group People for Education found that students taking applied courses in Grade 9 were much less likely to go to university and that students from low-income groups were more likely to enrol in applied courses. 

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB), which began phasing out streamed courses in Grades 9 and 10 in recent years, previously found that only 40 per cent of students who took an applied course in Grade 9 graduated within five years. 

Streaming ingrained into education culture, researcher says

John Malloy, director of education at the TDSB — Canada’s largest school board — applauded the province’s decision in a series of tweets. He called the change “necessary and complex” and said that it will require “much support and accountability” to ensure success for students.

Meanwhile, in an interview this morning, James said the change has been “a long time coming,” noting that his own research and that of others has shown that biases about race and the socioeconomic backgrounds of students have had an outsize effect on how students are placed. 

He added that parents are often unaware of the full consequences of streaming on their children’s education and futures.

James also cautioned that streaming has been so ingrained in Ontario’s secondary school system, it will take time and work to ensure it doesn’t continue in more subtle ways.

“Since, culturally, there is the whole idea of streaming, we’re going to have to have teachers —  and students and parents, as well — start to rethink what it means to place students into a classroom where we’re trying to capitalize on their abilities and strengths, and not be streamed into what teachers and others think are their abilities and strengths,” he said.

Ontario’s NDP, the Official Opposition, also tentatively lauded the news. NDP education critic Marit Stiles called the move “an important first step.” She added that her party will be “watching closely for details” as the policy is rolled out.

Ban on suspensions for younger students

The Ministry of Education also says it will implement a ban on suspensions for students in junior kindergarten to Grade 3, another practice that has been shown to disproportionately impact Black students.

The 2017 study by James reported that 42 per cent of all Black students in the Toronto, York, Peel and Durham school boards had been suspended at least once by the time they leave high school. 

The issue was also highlighted in a recent third-party review of the Peel District School Board that painted a damning picture of dysfunction among administrators who are ill-prepared to deal with anti-Black racism directly affecting students.

The review found that black students make up only 10.2 per cent of the secondary school population in Peel but represent about 22.5 per cent of the students receiving suspensions. Further, reviewers heard anecdotally that some principals “use any excuse” to suspend Black students, including wearing hoodies or hoop earrings.

The ministry says it will also work to ensure that there are appropriate penalties for educators who make racist comments or behave in a discriminatory way. 

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MPX International’s Subsidiary, Spartan Wellness, Enters Into a Services Agreement With Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc.

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NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO NEWSWIRE SERVICES IN THE UNITED STATES OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES. ANY FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS RESTRICTION MAY CONSTITUTE A VIOLATION OF UNITED STATES SECURITIES LAWS.

TORONTO, July 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — MPX International Corporation (the “Corporation” or “MPX”) (CSE: MPXI) is pleased to announce that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Spartan Wellness Corporation (“Spartan”), has entered into a services agreement, dated July 1, 2020 (the “Services Agreement”) with Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc., a subsidiary of Shoppers Drug Mart.

Spartan was initially established by a group of concerned Veterans to support other Veterans and First Responders focussed on the use of medical cannabis as a harm reduction medicine in lieu of other conventional treatments such as opioids. It became clear very quickly that Spartan’s services, delivered through its premier virtual medical clinic, found at www.spartanwellness.ca, are transferable across many patient groups. Spartan has since expanded its services to support all Canadians that are dealing with pain management, anxiety, depression, PTSD and other chronic conditions.

“Spartan maintains direct contact with patients who look to cannabis and cannabinoid-based medicines for the treatment of certain medical conditions. We strongly believe in allowing our patients to choose the Licensed Provider from which they wish to source their medical cannabis and Medical Cannabis by Shoppers™ is rapidly becoming an industry leader in our field,” noted Riad Byne, Co-Founder and CEO, of Spartan. “We have been developing and refining our virtual medical clinical services for over 3 years with these efficiencies becoming particularly critical during the present COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, we are confident that Spartan’s services are world class and we are delighted to join forces with Medical Cannabis by Shoppers™ so as to better meet the needs of our patient base.”

The Services Agreement calls for Spartan to utilize its network of volunteers and professionals to perform clinical services for Shopper Drug Mart patients which will include prescribing cannabinoid combination and strength, delivery methods and general education about cannabis use as well as conducting follow-up medical appointments to monitor efficacy and patient well-being.

“MPX International is pleased to be able to initiate its relationship with Shoppers Drug Mart as we continue to build our medical cannabis business in Canada. The resources which we have developed through Spartan give us a unique capability to work with Shoppers to the benefit of both companies and, more notably, the patients served by Spartan and Medical Cannabis by Shoppers™,” noted W. Scott Boyes, Chairman, President and CEO of MPXI. “The medical cannabis industry continues to quickly evolve in Canada and we feel it is important to surround ourselves with industry leaders.”

About Medical Cannabis by Shoppers™ 

First launched in Ontario in January 2019, Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. is a subsidiary of Shoppers Drug Mart.  It provides patient access to numerous medical cannabis products from over 20 licensed cannabis brands. A medical document (similar to a prescription) can be obtained from a Medical Cannabis by Shoppers™ healthcare partner via video call, then medication can be ordered online or via phone, and is shipped directly and discreetly to their doorstep. The Shoppers Cannabis Care team – a dedicated call center staffed by cannabis-trained advisors and pharmacists – provides counselling and support for patients.

Patients and customers can visit Shoppersdrugmart.ca/cannabis for more information.

About Shoppers Drug Mart 

Shoppers Drug Mart is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing. The company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec). With almost 1,300 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada. The company also licenses or owns 47 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé in Québec), and provides cosmetic dermatology services at two standalone locations, the Beauty Clinic. As well, the company owns and operates 43 corporate Wellwise by Shoppers Drug Mart stores and an ecommerce site Wellwise.ca, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services. In addition to its retail store network, the company owns Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc., an online platform for the sale of medical cannabis, Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities. Shoppers Drug Mart is an independent operating division of Loblaw Companies Limited.

For further information: pr@loblaw.ca

About Spartan Wellness Corporation

Spartan Wellness Corporation is a leading medical cannabis clinic dedicated to assisting Canadian Forces, RCMP and first responders veterans since 2017. The corporation has also expanded its services to helping Canadians seeking medical cannabis education, prescriptions, and advice on a wide selection of reputable Health Canada approved product offerings. Spartan Wellness is a premier one-stop resource for Canadians’ medical cannabis needs and has helped 1,000’s of clients at its virtual clinic with a proven history of success. It prides itself on its 3 key measures for aligning clients with reputable suppliers: customer services, product availability, and product quality. Spartan Wellness attributes its continued growth to its 4 Pillars of Success: honesty, integrity, respect and giving back to the community. 

For more information visit www.spartanwellness.ca

About MPX International Corporation

MPX International Corporation is a multinational diversified cannabis company focused on developing and operating assets across the global cannabis industry with an emphasis on cultivating, manufacturing and marketing products which include cannabinoids as their primary active ingredient.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information

This news release includes certain “forward-looking statements” under applicable Canadian securities legislation that are not historical facts. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties, and other factors that could cause actual results, performance, prospects, and opportunities to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this news release include, but are not limited to, MPX International’s objectives and intentions.  Forward-looking statements are necessarily based on a number of estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: general business, economic and social uncertainties; litigation, legislative, environmental and other judicial, regulatory, political and competitive developments; delay or failure to receive board, shareholder or regulatory approvals; those additional risks set out in MPX International’s public documents filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com, including its audited annual consolidated financial statements for the financial years ended September 30, 2019 and 2018 and the corresponding annual management’s discussion and analysis; and other matters discussed in this news release. Although MPX International believes that the assumptions and factors used in preparing the forward-looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on these statements, which only apply as of the date of this news release, and no assurance can be given that such events will occur in the disclosed time frames or at all. Except where required by law, MPX International disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

For further information, please contact:

MPX International Corporation
W. Scott Boyes, Chairman, President and CEO
T: +1-416-840-4703
info@mpxinternationalcorp.com
http://mpxi.tv

For additional information on MPXI visit our website www.mpxinternationalcorp.com or http://mpxi.tv

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Today’s coronavirus news: Hamilton native and Broadway star Nick Cordero dies of COVID-19; NHL, players strike deal to resume; 124 new cases in Ontario, in Star’s tally

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Returning for the playoffs is seen as a stirring victory for the NHL, which like other top leagues faced the prospect of losing millions more without the television revenue tied to the post-season. There were deep concerns about cancelling the rest of the season and word of positive tests didn’t help: 26 players since June 8, in addition to almost a dozen before that.

7:34 p.m.: As of 7 p.m. Sunday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 37,799 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,734 deaths, up 124 new cases and just a single death since Saturday evening, according to the Star’s latest count.

The only fatality reported Sunday came in Toronto; the daily rate of deaths has fallen sharply since peaking in early May when the health units reported as many as 94 deaths in a single day.


The province has now seen six straight days with fewer than five reported deaths, a level that hasn’t been seen since late March in the early days of Ontario’s epidemic, when infections were low, but growing exponentially.

As has been the case in recent weeks, the vast majority of new cases reported Sunday came in a handful of health units.

Earlier Sunday, the province reported 139 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 39 in an intensive care unit, of whom 23 are on a ventilator — numbers that are all near the lowest levels in data that goes back to early April.

The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

7:11 p.m.: The global number of new coronavirus cases reported on Saturday was highest on record, according to the World Health Organization.

Cases rose by 212,326 in 24 hours, with the United States, Brazil and India showing the largest increases.

The previous record of 190,566 was set on June 28.

The WHO’s announcement comes as several U.S. states have paused reopening plans as cases have surged. Texas has warned that the state could run out of available hospital beds.

5:13 p.m.: A military plane carrying Canadian troops to Latvia was forced to turn around and return home because of concerns those on board might have been exposed to COVID-19.

The Polaris aircraft carrying about 70 military members and aircrew took off from Canadian Forces Base Trenton on July 2 after those on board had spent two weeks in quarantine at the Ontario base, Defence Department spokeswoman Jessical Lamirande said.

All military personnel deploying on overseas missions are required to undergo such quarantine measures as the Canadian Armed Forces has implemented strict measures to ensure troops do not carry COVID-19 to another country or spread the illness among their unit.

Yet despite those precautions, the plane was forced to turn around in midair after the military got word that someone at CFB Trenton who may have come in contact with the plane and passengers had tested positive for the illness.

“The health and well-being of our members and that of our allies and partners in Latvia is a priority,” Lamirande said in a statement. “As such, the decision was made to return the aircraft en route — rather than land in Latvia.”

Those on board will now have to undergo another 14 days in isolation at the base before resuming their mission, though Lamirande played down any potential impact the delay would have on Canada’s mission in Latvia.

Canada has 540 troops in Latvia, where they form the core of a 1,500-strong multinational battlegroup established by the NATO military alliance three years ago. Similar battlegroups led by Britain, Germany and the U.S. have been established in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, respectively.

4:10 p.m.: Leaders in two of Texas’ biggest cities are calling on the governor to empower local governments to order residents to stay home as the state’s continued surge in confirmed cases of the coronavirus tests hospital capacity.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that he wants Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott to return control to local governments. He says hospitals are facing a crisis and that ICUs could be overrun in 10 days.

In the Houston area, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who is also a Democrat, says a stay-at-home order is needed.

Texas reported its highest daily increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases Saturday with 8,258.

3:12 p.m.: Two Americans have been charged for violating the Federal Quarantine Act.

On June 24, a 66-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman from Minnesota entered Canada at the border connecting International Falls, Minn., and Fort Frances, Ont.

Canada Border Services Agency told the man and woman to drive directly to their destination and quarantine for 14 days, but Ontario Provincial Police say they were observed making stops in Fort Frances.

Police say they are charged with failure to comply with an order prohibiting the entry into Canada and face a fine of $1,000.

2:46 p.m.: For the first time ever, Lebanon on Sunday hosted its annual music festival in the ancient northeastern city of Baalbek without an audience, a move organizers dubbed “an act of cultural resilience” to the global coronavirus pandemic as well as the country’s unprecedented economic crisis.

Held amid soaring Roman columns, the Baalbek International Festival was founded in 1956. This year, it’s being broadcast on local and regional TV stations and live-streamed on social media in an effort to spread “unity and hope.”

“We could not have an audience, since it is impossible to bring 2,000-3,000 people to Baalbek amid the coronavirus precautions, so we decided to bring Baalbek into people’s homes,” Nayla de Freige, the festival’s president, told the local LBC TV station.

The festival’s website said this year’s program, entitled “Sound of Resilience,” was “one of the first big cultural events and a premiere in the Middle East after the confinement due to COVID-19.”

The dramatic setting — a massive Roman forum — was always part of the festival’s magic. Sunday’s concert was held at the Bacchus Temple, which stands in front of six columns that remain from the Temple of Jupiter. The ruins date back to the second and third centuries.

Lebanon is currently being shaken by a severe economic and financial crisis, made worse in recent months by the coronavirus and lockdown restrictions. The financial crisis is rooted in decades of systematic corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s ruling elite, who critics say refuse to reform despite a nationwide uprising that erupted last October and a rapidly deteriorating economy.

1:55 p.m.: Quebec is reporting eight additional deaths due to COVID-19.

The province now has reported 5,574 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, but only one of those reported today is considered a new death.

Authorities say the other seven newly reported deaths occurred before June 27.

The province also reported 79 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 55,863.

On Saturday, the province had crept up over 100 daily cases for the first time since June 20. The number of hospitalizations and intensive-care cases decreased slightly for a total of 371 and 26 patients, respectively.

1:33 p.m.: As residents gather during hot weather, the City of Toronto is reminding everyone that alcohol consumption is not permitted in parks, beaches or public spaces. Fines are $300 as part of enforcement in beaches and parks.

The city says it received 69 complaints related to parks and issued three tickets on Saturday but these weren’t related to alcohol.

Since July 1, the city has “provided education to nearly 1,900 individuals which includes education on alcohol laws and other orders.”

“While visiting a beach or park, residents must practise physical distancing and avoid crowding,” a spokesperson said. “Provincial orders restricting gatherings of more than 10 people who are not members of the same household remain in effect.”

1:05 p.m.: The numbers in Florida get bigger and bigger.

It took three months, from early March to June 22, for Florida to cross 100,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases. It took less than two weeks for the state to go from 100,000 to 200,000 cases — and the positive test rate keeps rising.

The 10,059 confirmed new novel coronavirus cases from Sunday’s Florida Department of Health update, the third highest single-day total, behind Saturday and Thursday, shot the state’s pandemic case number to 200,111.

While there’s been an increase in testing over the last week, there’s also been a massive leap in the positive test rate. The average daily positive test rate from July 21 through Jun 27 was 9.94 per cent. The average for the next seven days: 14.47 per cent.

Another 29 deaths were reported around the state Sunday, bringing that total to 3,832.

1:02 p.m.: U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has been better than expected so far, and it won’t be necessary to extend an emergency unemployment program that ends this month.

“We are doing well, we do need to be careful about the virus but I am just optimistic,” Scalia said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s really important to again remember how much better than projected we’ve done so far.”

“Spending, retail spending, consumer spending generally, new home starts, all of these have been actually very encouraging economic indicators over the last about six weeks or so,” Scalia said.

As lawmakers prepare to resume talks about another round of stimulus later this month, President Donald Trump’s calls for tax relief —including a potential payroll tax cut —could be “an important part” of bringing more people back to work, said Scalia, a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

But the $600 weekly unemployment benefit established as part of the first round of stimulus shouldn’t be part of the next package, Scalia said.

“As we reopen the economy I don’t know that we need a benefit like that,” Scalia said. There will likely be a “lot of discussions toward the end of the month” between the White House and lawmakers about the next round of stimulus measures, he said.

12:07 p.m.: Prince Edward Island is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 linked to a positive case that was reported Saturday.

The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, says the two new cases had contact with a P.E.I. man in his 20s who had travelled to Nova Scotia. That man had interacted with someone who had been in the United States and was asymptomatic when he returned to the province on Monday.

Morrison says the two new cases are men in their 20s. She says the risk of community spread remains low.

P.E.I. reported three new cases of COVID-19 Saturday for the first time in more than two months.

11:03 a.m.:

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 11:01 a.m.:

There are 105,455 confirmed cases in Canada.

Quebec: 55,784 confirmed (including 5,566 deaths, 25,280 resolved)

Ontario: 35,794 confirmed (including 2,689 deaths, 31,266 resolved) (The Star does its own tally and will be updating this story later today. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, by the Star’s count, cases were up a total of 117 since Friday evening.)

Alberta: 8,259 confirmed (including 155 deaths, 7,532 resolved) British Columbia: 2,947 confirmed (including 177 deaths, 2,608 resolved)

Nova Scotia: 1,064 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

Saskatchewan: 796 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 711 resolved)

Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 302 resolved), 11 presumptive

Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

Prince Edward Island: 30 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

Total: 105,455 (12 presumptive, 105,443 confirmed including 8,676 deaths, 69,173 resolved)

11:02 a.m.: Iran on Sunday instituted mandatory mask-wearing as fears mount over newly spiking reported deaths from the coronavirus, even as its public increasingly shrugs off the danger of the COVID-19 illness it causes.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicized an image of himself in a mask in recent days, urging both public officials and the Islamic Republic’s 80 million people to wear them to stop the virus’s spread.

But public opinion polling and a walk through any of the streets of Tehran show the widespread apathy felt over a pandemic that saw Iran in February among the first countries struck after China.

On June 30, Iran saw its highest single-day reported death toll of the pandemic with 162 killed.

The new rules require those in Tehran’s subway, riding buses or indoors to wear them. The government said those seeking “public services” also will be required to wear a mask.

Read the story here.

10:49 a.m.: New York City is preparing for Phase 3 of the reopening process Monday, but without indoor dining.

The city, which suffered terribly in the spring from the virus., will allow nail salons, tattoo and massage parlours to reopen at 50 per cent capacity, ABC reports.

New York state was seeing almost 800 deaths a day at the virus’s peak but recent numbers have been in the single digits or low double digits.

9:52 a.m.: The U.K. government says selected sports stars are to be exempt from quarantine requirements when competing in England.

However, those involved will instead live and work in “bubbled” environments behind closed doors, U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced on Sunday.

The new measures will allow Formula One, international soccer, golf and snooker events to take place. Competitors involved in these events will be granted quarantine exemptions.

9:09 a.m.:The hard-hit Australian state of Victoria has recorded 74 new coronavirus cases after announcing a record 108 new infections on Saturday.

The Saturday increase resulted in state Premier Daniel Andrews announcing a lockdown of nine Melbourne inner-city public housing blocks containing 3,000 people, where 27 cases have been detected.

Police are guarding every entrance of the housing estates and residents are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason.

Andrews said the residents will have their rent waived for the next two weeks and will receive one-off hardship payments of between about $750 and $1,500 (Canadian). The government said it would arrange the delivery of food and medical supplies to all homes.

Australia had for months been largely successful in keeping the virus at bay.

7:45 a.m.: Israel ordered thousands of people into quarantine after a contentious phone surveillance program resumed while Palestinians in the West Bank returned to life under lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases in both areas.

A statement Sunday from Israel’s Health Ministry said “many” messages had been sent to Israelis following the renewed involvement of the Shin Bet domestic security agency. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that more than 30,000 people were notified they must enter quarantine since Thursday.

After imposing strict measures early on during a first wave of infections, Israel and the Palestinian territories appeared to have contained their outbreaks, with each reporting only a few dozen new cases a day in May. But an easing of restrictions led to a steady uptick in cases over the past month.

“We are in a state of emergency,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding that Israel would need to further clamp down to rein in the virus.

Israel is now reporting around 1,000 new cases a day, higher than its peak during the previous wave and it is set to reimpose restrictions in response, limiting occupancy in bars, places of worship and event spaces to 50 people. It is requiring citizens wear masks and has urged more stringent social distancing.

6:11 a.m.: The national immunity task force has started testing thousands of blood samples for COVID-19 antibodies and should be able to produce a more detailed picture of how many Canadians have been infected with the novel coronavirus within a couple of weeks.

It will be much longer, however, before we know more about what kind of protection against future infection having the antibodies provides, said Dr. Timothy Evans, executive director of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

Plus, said Evans, most of the people whose blood is being tested will not be informed of the results because of how the blood is being collected for testing.

“There won’t be an opportunity for individuals to find out their status,” said Evans, who is also director of the McGill School of Population and Global Health.

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified in January, while many others were sick but couldn’t get tested because provinces were limiting who could access the procedure until just a few weeks ago.

Evans also said a significant number of people get the infection and show no symptoms and will have no clue they were ever sick. Evans said immunity testing in other countries has suggested the actual infection rate is 10 to 20 times more than the number of confirmed cases.

Read the story here.

Saturday 8:32 p.m.: Mexico topped 30,000 COVID-19 deaths Saturday, overtaking France as the country with the fifth-highest death toll since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Officials reported 523 more confirmed coronavirus deaths for the day, bringing the nation’s total to 30,366 for the pandemic. Mexico’s total confirmed infections rose by almost 6,000 to 251,165, about on par with Spain, the eighth highest caseload.

Also Saturday, about 200 street vendors briefly blocked several major avenues in downtown Mexico City on Saturday to demand they be allowed to sell again amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday 6:47 p.m.: Officials across the U.S. pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for large Fourth of July crowds Saturday even as President Donald Trump enticed the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fireworks staged with new U.S. coronavirus infections on the rise.

People wandered the National Mall in baking heat and took shade under the scattered trees while, not far away, music wafted from a party on the White House South Lawn. To come: the “Salute for America” celebration with Trump’s speech from the White House grounds, a military air show and a more ambitious fireworks display than has been seen in years.

The crowds on the Mall were strikingly thinner than the one gathered for last year’s jammed celebration on the National Mall. Many who showed up wore masks.

At the White House, several hundred invited guests assembled on the sweeping South Lawn, gathering around tables decorated with flowers and small U.S. flags as a military rock band played. Most guests were unmasked.

Trump’s guests were doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers and military members as well as officials from the administration, said Judd Deere, deputy White House press secretary. He said the event was a tribute to the “tremendous courage and spirit” of front-line workers and the public in the pandemic.

Saturday 5:30 p.m.: As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 37,675 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,733 deaths, up a total of 117 new cases since Friday evening, according to the Star’s latest count.

As has been the case in recent weeks, the vast majority of new cases were reported in a handful of health units. Only Windsor-Essex (35 new cases), Peel Region (25 cases), York Region (21 cases) and Toronto (20 cases) reported increases in the double digits. The 20 cases in Toronto were the fewest in any day since March 26.

Meanwhile, just two more fatal cases were reported — both in Toronto. The daily rate of deaths has also fallen sharply since peaking in early May when the health units reported as many as 94 deaths in a single day.

Earlier Saturday, the province reported 150 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 39 in an intensive care unit, of whom 26 are on a ventilator — numbers that are all near the lowest levels in data that goes back to early April.

The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths — 2,687 — may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

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