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education roundup

Public and private schools in Maryland and elsewhere are divided over in-person instruction.

An emergency order issued Monday by Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, which countermanded a Montgomery County Health Department directive regarding school closures, has highlighted a divide between public and private schools over reopening plans.

The county health department had instructed all private schools to start the year teaching remotely, as every public school district in the Washington area has already decided to do, including those in Montgomery County. Private schools would not be allowed to begin in-person classes until after Oct. 1, the order said.

But Mr. Hogan, a Republican, said on Monday that county health officers didn’t have the authority to stop private schools from reopening, noting in his statement that public school boards and superintendents have made individual decisions with the help of local health officials and saying that private institutions should be allowed to do the same.

“Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidance,” Mr. Hogan said. “The blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer.”

A similar dynamic is playing out in some other parts of the country, where public schools are opening remotely while private schools are planning in-person or various hybrid models.

Montgomery County, just outside the nation’s capital, is home to some of the nation’s most prestigious private schools, attended by the children of politicians, public officials and diplomats. They include St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, attended by Barron Trump, the president’s youngest child.

St. Andrew’s has not yet decided whether it will begin the school year with distance learning or a hybrid model. But some other private schools in Maryland, including Georgetown Preparatory, an all-male Jesuit school in North Bethesda, planned to let families choose between online or in-person classes, and would have had to alter those plans under the county order.

Other key education developments:

  • Students in Mexico will exclusively take classes broadcast on television or the radio when the school year begins later this month, in an effort to avoid further coronavirus outbreaks, the government announced on Monday. Schools will only reopen when authorities determine that new and active infections, which remain high across the nation, decline enough for a safe return to the classroom.

  • A rash of positive cases during the first week of school in some parts of the United States foreshadows a stop-and-start year in which students and staff members may have to bounce between instruction in the classroom and remotely at home because of infections and quarantines.

  • Israel reopened schools in May, and within days infections were reported at a Jerusalem high school. The virus rippled out to the students’ homes and then to other schools and neighborhoods, ultimately infecting hundreds of students, teachers and relatives. Other outbreaks forced hundreds of schools to close, and across the country, tens of thousands of students and teachers were quarantined. As countries consider back-to-school strategies for the fall, the outbreaks there illustrates the dangers of moving too precipitously.

N.Y.C.’s health commissioner resigns after clashing with the mayor over the virus.

Her departure came after escalating tensions between City Hall and top Health Department officials, which began at the start of the city’s outbreak in March, burst into public view.

“I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the Health Department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been,” she said in her resignation email sent to Mr. de Blasio, a copy of which was shared with The New York Times.

“Our experts are world renowned for their epidemiology, surveillance and response work. The city would be well served by having them at the strategic center of the response not in the background.”

Dr. Barbot’s resignation could renew questions about Mr. de Blasio’s handling of the response to the outbreak, which devastated the city in the spring, killing more than 20,000 residents, even as it has largely subsided in recent weeks. And it comes at a pivotal moment: Public schools are scheduled to partially open next month, which could be crucial for the city’s recovery, and fears are growing that the outbreak could surge again when the weather cools.

The mayor had been faulted by public health experts, including some within the Health Department, for not moving faster to close down schools and businesses in March, when New York emerged as an epicenter of the pandemic.

Public health officials have bristled at the mayor’s decision to strip the Health Department of its responsibility for contact tracing and give it instead to the public hospital system, known as Health + Hospitals. The Health Department has performed such tracing for decades; the public hospitals have not.

“It had been clear in recent days that it was time for a change,” Mr. de Blasio said in a hastily called news conference. “We need an atmosphere of unity. We need an atmosphere of common purpose.”

The mayor moved quickly to replace Dr. Barbot, immediately announcing the appointment of a new health commissioner, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, a former senior leader at Health + Hospitals.

Negotiators on Tuesday are set to reconvene on Capitol Hill to continue hammering out differences over a coronavirus relief package, with top Trump administration officials scheduled to return for another meeting with congressional Democrats.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, will meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader. Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Meadows will also join Senate Republicans for a closed-door policy lunch.

The Senate is scheduled to take a monthlong recess at the end of the week, but it is unclear if lawmakers will leave Washington without a deal. Tens of millions of Americans have lost crucial unemployment benefits as well as a federal moratorium on evictions, and economists warn that permanent damage could be wrought on the economy without action.

“I’ve never been a gambler,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, when asked about the prospect of a deal before the end of the week. “But if I were a gambler, I’d say we need to have some long days, long nights. Work hard.”

White House officials and Democratic leaders reported some progress over the weekend, but there are still substantial differences. Democrats are proposing a $3 trillion rescue plan that would include restoring $600-per-week jobless aid payments that expired on Friday and extending them through January, while Republicans are pushing a $1 trillion package that would reduce those payments substantially.

President Trump on Monday raised the idea of using an executive order to address the moratorium on evictions, while also hurling insults at Democratic leaders who were meeting with his top advisers in search of a compromise. But he has been notably absent from the negotiations themselves.

Mr. Trump accused Democrats of being focused on getting “bailout money” for states controlled by Democrats, and unconcerned with extending unemployment benefits.

Democrats have proposed providing more than $900 billion to strapped states and cities whose budgets have been decimated, but it is Republicans who have proposed slashing the jobless aid. Democrats have refused to do so, cementing the stalemate.

Fueling an already complicated impasse, outside advisers are also trying to get the president to bypass Congress and unilaterally impose a temporary payroll tax cut, an idea that Mr. Trump has championed but that his negotiators dropped amid opposition from both parties.

Congressional staff and lobbyists who are engaged in discussions said on Monday that the talks between administration officials and Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer had essentially frozen negotiations between top Democrats and Republicans on key committees who would have to hammer out the details of any deal.

That could leave the parties little time to flesh out any compromises over additional aid to businesses or individuals, yielding a plan that mostly consists of re-upping existing aid programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and direct payments to individuals.

Storm shelters in North Carolina, where Hurricane Isaias made landfall late Monday, prepared to deal with a dual threat from severe weather and the virus by screening for symptoms of the virus and socially distancing people who took shelter.

“Our state has weathered our fair share of storms in recent years,” Gov. Roy Cooper said over the weekend. “We know how to plan, prepare and respond when it’s over. Nothing about that has changed, but this time, we’re going to have to do it with a mask on.”

The state’s Department of Public Safety also urged residents to bring their own blankets and bedding, and asked people to stay at motels or with relatives if possible. Shelters will serve meals in sealed containers rather than in typical serving lines.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey also urged residents to take shelter, but not to break social-distancing guidelines by staying with large groups of friends or relatives.

“I’m not a fan of hurricane parties,” Mr. Murphy said on Monday, referring to the events that became something of a tradition in Florida during minor storms. “If it’s a hurricane party, you’re inside. It just doesn’t make sense, folks. It doesn’t end well. And we know that.”

The storm made landfall on Monday night in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., as a Category 1 hurricane, but weakened as it pushed through North Carolina and into Virginia on Tuesday morning. Still, forecasters warn that Isaias will bring powerful winds and heavy rains as it continues moving north toward New York and New Jersey and into New England.

A day before the United States surpassed 150,000 deaths from the coronavirus, President Trump appeared resigned to the toll, saying in an interview, “It is what it is.”

“They are dying. That’s true,” Mr. Trump told Axios in an interview recorded on July 28 and released in its entirety on Monday. “It is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

The president’s critics say he could have done much more to keep the virus from spreading to the extent it has, including encouraging states to be more cautious in reopening instead of encouraging them.

The country’s death toll, currently nearly 156,000, is far from the total of “75, 80 to 100,000” deaths that Mr. Trump predicted in early May when he credited himself with preventing the toll from being worse.

Even after his predictions proved wrong, Mr. Trump has continued to credit himself for the United States not being even worse off.

“One person’s too much,” Mr. Trump told Axios. ”And those people that really understand it, that really understand it, they said it’s an incredible job that we’ve done.”

The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged Russia to follow established guidelines for producing safe and effective vaccines, after Moscow announced that it would begin widespread vaccination of its population in October with a vaccine that had not yet been fully tested in clinical trials.

Amid a global race to develop the first effective coronavirus vaccine, experts have raised concerns about cutting corners in research and putting people at risk with an unsafe product. Last week Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, warned Congress about programs like Russia’s that are not transparent.

“I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone,” Dr. Fauci said at hearing.

Russia is moving ahead with several prototypes, its officials said, and at least one effort, developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, has reached advanced stages of testing. The vaccine candidate is similar to one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, using modified viruses that typically cause mild colds in humans.

Russia said it will start so-called Phase III trials of the vaccine this month. In Phase III, trials test for effectiveness in humans, after testing in animals. It is the last stage before approval, allowing widespread use.

The candidate vaccine reportedly has been tested to some extent on soldiers, and the Russian defense ministry said those soldiers all had volunteered. The institute’s director said on Russian television that he himself had also tried the vaccine before it finished testing in monkeys.

Two N.I.H. studies are recruiting patients to test possible Covid-19 treatments.

The National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday the launch of a key second, phase of clinical trials for an antibody treatment to help patients early in the course of Covid-19.

The two studies, which are now recruiting patients, are testing drugs called monoclonal antibodies produced by Eli Lilly and its partner, Abcellera Biologics in Vancouver. Researchers hope to have results in October or November.

The process began in March, and has progressed at “record speed,” said Daniel Skovronsky, chief scientific officer at Eli Lilly. Two and a half months later, the company began safety tests in humans, “surely a record speed,” he said.

The first study, dubbed ACTIV 2, will start with 220 Covid-19 patients who are ill but not hospitalized. Half will receive the antibodies and half a placebo infusion. If there are signs the drug is helping, the trial will expand to a total of 2,000 patients with the hope that the drug reduces the duration of symptoms and speeds the time it takes for the virus to be undetectable in the patients’ upper respiratory tracts.

The second study, ACTIV 3, will begin with 300 patients who are hospitalized but not gravely ill who have had symptoms for 10 days or less, though patients with virus-caused organ damage are excluded. Half of the patients will receive a placebo infusion. If the drug appears helpful, the study will move on to 1,000 individuals.

The antibodies used in these trials were produced from serum from a Washington patient who was one of the first people to recover from Covid-19. Researchers at Abcellera selected this antibody from many in the patient’s blood because it was most effective at blocking the virus.

Without knowing if the drug will be beneficial, Eli Lilly is preparing to meet a goal of having 100,000 doses by the end of the year, Dr. Skovronsky said.

As these clinical trials progress, the researchers may add other treatments as well.

What Lockdown 2.0 looks like: Harsher rules and deeper confusion.

Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne has imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the world as it grapples with a spiraling coronavirus outbreak in a country that once thought it had the pandemic beat.

But as officials cast about for ways to break the chain of infections, the city has become a confounding matrix of hefty fines for disobedience, minor exceptions for everything from romantic partners to home building, and endless versions of the question: So, wait, can I ____?

Restaurant owners are wondering about food delivery after an 8 p.m. curfew began on Sunday. Teenagers are asking if their boyfriends and girlfriends count as essential partners. Can animal shelter volunteers walk dogs at night? Are house cleaners essential for those struggling with their mental health? Can the virus-tested exercise outside?

“This is such a weird, scary, bizarro time that we live in,” said Tessethia Von Tessle Roberts, 25, a student in Melbourne who admits to having hit a breaking point a few days ago, when her washing machine broke.

“Our health care workers are hustling around the clock to keep us alive,” she said. “Our politicians are as scared as we are, but they have to pretend like they have a better idea than we do of what’s going to happen next.”

Pandemic lockdowns, never easy, are getting ever more confusing and contentious as they evolve in the face of second and third rounds of outbreaks that have exhausted both officials and residents. With success against the virus as fleeting as the breeze, the new waves of restrictions feel to many like a bombing raid that just won’t end.

In rural Modoc County, Calif., population 8,800, social distancing was a way of life well before the virus. The county seat, Alturas, has just one blinking red traffic signal. And for five months, officials hoped that the county’s isolation in the northeastern corner of the state would spare it.

But the virus finally reached Modoc, the last county in the state without a confirmed case, when a couple in Alturas tested positive last week.

The county has not named the two people who contracted the virus, but Jodie Larranaga, an owner of the Brass Rail bar and restaurant, said it was a waitress who worked at the bar and her husband. She said the couple had recently returned from a family vacation in Fresno.

The county Health Department put out a request on Tuesday for anyone who had visited a bar in the previous two weeks to call a hotline. But Ms. Larranaga said that the department was not casting the net wide enough. “This couple has been all over the place,” she said. “They were all around town.”

Most people still go maskless when they shop in Alturas, despite a statewide order to wear masks in public places — an order that the county sheriff refuses to enforce.

Juan Ledezma, the owner of a thrift store in Alturas, estimated that 20 percent of customers come in with a mask on. “I don’t ask them to do it because they might get offended,” he said.

Caterers rush to adjust as most events are canceled or severely scaled down.

Corporate cafeterias that they provide food and staff to remain closed. Events like graduation and anniversary parties, bar mitzvahs, charity dinners and weddings have been canceled or pushed into next year.

And the ones that took place were on a decidedly smaller scale. “We did one 50-person wedding,” said David Cingari of David’s Soundview Catering in Stamford, Conn. “It was a clambake in the backyard. That was supposed to be a 250-person wedding.”

On a recent Saturday, he was dashing about at a pop-up restaurant he opened in mid-June, serving lobster rolls, blackened mahi-mahi tacos and smashburgers alongside cocktails like the Painkiller to socially distanced diners.

He made about $600, far from the roughly $6,600 that a 210-person wedding (petite lobster rolls on toasted brioche, coconut shrimp with mango aioli) and a bar mitzvah party for 180 (torched s’mores and a chocolate fountain) planned for that day, pre-pandemic, would have brought in.

The collapse of the catering industry this year also directly affects bartenders, wait staff and others who typically work these events as part-time employees.

The industry — a collection of large corporations like Aramark and Compass Group and thousands of smaller companies owned by individuals — is not tracking how many caterers have permanently closed because of the pandemic, but they say it will happen.

And while caterers say they are taking a financial beating, many feel better situated than those in the restaurant business. Instead of paying often expensive rent in desirable locations like most restaurants, caterers typically pay less for large kitchens that can be off the beaten track.

Counting for the 2020 census will end on Sept. 30, a month earlier than previously scheduled, the Census Bureau said in a statement on Monday.

The census is constitutionally required to count all residents of the United States every 10 years, but the 2020 effort has faltered amid the pandemic. In recent weeks, the Trump administration and Senate Republicans appeared to signal that they wanted the census finished well ahead of schedule.

Census data is enormously important. It is used to reapportion all 435 House seats and thousands of state and local districts, as well as to divvy up trillions of dollars in federal aid.

“Under this plan, the Census Bureau intends to meet a similar level of household responses as collected in prior censuses, including outreach to hard-to-count communities,” the Census Bureau said in its statement.

Critics said the move was pushed by the White House and motivated by partisanship.

“We’re dealing with a census that’s been really challenged by Covid-19,” said Vanita Gupta, a former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division who is now the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “And in the middle of this pandemic, the administration has tried to sabotage the census for partisan gain, to move its anti-immigrant agenda and to silence communities of color.”

She added that rural communities could be badly hurt by an undercount.

On Monday night, the White House referred questions to the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Times’s Marc Stein has covered pro basketball for almost 30 years, but he says he has seen nothing like life inside the league’s so-called bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida:

Every day in the bubble starts the same for reporters. We record our temperature and oxygen saturation readings via a league-sanctioned app to receive access at checkpoints within the bubble.

Then we head to the testing room, with access set aside exclusively for reporters in the 9 a.m. hour, to receive three shallow throat swabs and one shallow swab of each nostril — daily.

There is no guarantee that the N.B.A. can continue to keep the coronavirus from infiltrating this first-of-a-kind village that houses 22 teams.

But it already seems clear that the bubble approach was the only approach that had any shot in 2020.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Pam Belluck, Emma Bubola, Ben Carey, Damien Cave, Emily Cochrane, Michael Gold, J. David Goodman, Maggie Haberman, Mike Ives, Isabel Kershner, Gina Kolata, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Marc Stein, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Michael Wines, Will Wright and Karen Zraick.



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World

Today’s coronavirus news: Tory calls alarming jump of 130 new cases in Toronto ‘troubling’; Ontario surpasses 400 infections for first time since June; Canada/U.S. border closure extended to Oct. 21

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KEY FACTS

  • 11:35 a.m.: Canada/U.S. border closure extended to Oct. 21

  • 11 a.m.: Tory calls alarming jump in Toronto ‘troubling’

  • 10:23 a.m.: Ontario surpasses 400 infections for first time since June

  • 9:05 a.m.: EMA recommending steroid for treatment

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.

12:53 p.m. Voters in the Toronto ridings of York Centre and Toronto Centre will vote in federal byelections on Monday, Oct. 26. Both vacancies are in seats that were held by the governing Liberals.

12:21 p.m.: The British Columbia Teachers Federation is asking the Labour Relations Board to address its concerns about health and safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Documents filed with the board say the federation has heard from many of its members about “inconsistent and inadequate” health and safety precautions in schools.

The complaint says the protections do not meet what was promised by the provincial government over the summer about reopening schools.

The teachers have filed the submission under a section of the Labour Relations Code that allows the board to make settlement recommendations if disputes arise while a collective agreement is in force.

The federation urges the labour board to act on an “expedited basis” to resolve concerns that may cause teachers to “refuse to perform unsafe work” or file a “tsunami of grievances” about how school districts have implemented Ministry of Education policies.

The ministry did not immediately respond with a comment.

The B.C. government announced in July that most students would go back to school full time in September. The ministry said Thursday that 85 per cent of kindergarten to Grade 12 students have returned.

12:19 p.m.: The federal minister overseeing key aid programs for workers during the pandemic says there could still be changes to a proposed package of income-support benefits as the country faces renewed pressure from COVID-19.

That includes caregiver payments for anyone who can’t go to work because their child’s school or daycare is closed, or they have to keep them home for COVID-19 reasons.

To get the help after the fact, workers would have to show they could not work at least 60 per cent of their usual hours, or about three days out of a five-day workweek.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says she’s heard that eligibility criteria might be too restrictive for parents who have to take off a day or two to wait in hours-long lines for a COVID-19 test.

She says the proposed package and eligibility rules are a baseline and that the government wants them to be flexible to take into consideration that some people may only need one or two days.

The alternative would be to start from scratch on benefits, which Qualtrough says the Liberals want to avoid.

12:16 p.m.: As the six-month freeze on federal student loan payments nears its end, students are calling for an extension of the measure they say offered relief from the financial pressures of the pandemic.

Bryn de Chastelain, chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, says his group wants Ottawa to extend the moratorium.

He says the job market is still reeling from COVID-19, creating stress among students and recent grads juggling loans, high tuition costs and other bills.

Ottawa suspended repayments for approximately one million borrowers in repayment from March 30 to Sept. 30, saying no interest would accrue on students loans during the same period.

12:15 p.m.: Several provinces are imposing tougher measures in a bid to tackle a rapid increase in new COVID-19 cases.

Quebec has announced a blitz to enforce public health rules, saying they’ll send officers to 1,000 bars across the province over the weekend.

The province, which has been the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, announced 297 new cases on Friday.

Ontario, meanwhile, hiked fines for those caught congregating in overlarge groups to $10,000, and cut down the maximum size of gatherings in three hotspot regions.

In Toronto, Ottawa and Peel region, only 10 people will be allowed to gather indoors — down from the current limit of 25 — while the number for outdoor gatherings will drop to 25 from 100.

Ontario reported 401 new cases on Friday — a daily increase not seen since June.

But soaring case numbers are not limited to the two provinces that have been hardest hit by the virus.

British Columbia, for instance, reported 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday — an all-time daily high for the province where cases started soaring in August in spite of a previously flattened curve.

12:13 p.m.: Deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo declines to say generally there’s a second wave across Canada.

The seven-day average of new daily cases is now 849, he said at his daily media briefing.

“It’s too early to declare a second wave, but the increase is the trend that’s concerning us.”

11:50 a.m.: Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has tested positive for COVID-19, the party says.

His wife said earlier this week she had tested positive.

Blanchet was already in self-isolation after a staff member contracted the illness.

In a statement, Blanchet says he feels healthy.

11:35 a.m. (updated): Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the partial closure of the border with the United States is being extended another month, to Oct. 21.

Crossings of the border have been largely restricted to trade goods, essential workers and citizens returning home since March, in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Blair and his American counterpart, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, each tweeted the latest one-month extension of the closure agreement this morning.

The pandemic has raged in the United States throughout the spring and summer, and cases in Canada have recently started rising again as well.

At the same time, leaders in border communities have asked federal authorities to loosen restrictions slightly to allow people with links on both sides to live more normally.

The Conservatives also called Friday for Blair to allow more compassionate exemptions to the closure, such as for people who are engaged to be married or where loved ones are seriously ill.

11:10 a.m.: New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh is accusing his Liberal and Conservative counterparts of doing the bidding of big business during the pandemic.

Singh takes the swipe at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole in a speech today that lays out the NDP’s priorities ahead of next week’s throne speech.

Singh is calling on the Liberals to do more to help working people cope with the economic hardship of the COVID-19 crisis.

That includes extending benefits for unemployed Canadians that he says the Liberals are planning to curtail.

He’s also calling on the government to do more to help seniors, and address the crises in climate change and affordable housing.

But Singh is differentiating himself from Trudeau and O’Toole by telling his supporters his two main political rivals are essentially in the back pocket of big business and the “super-rich,” who he says have profited massively during the pandemic at the expense of working people.

11 a.m.: In light of an alarming jump Friday in new COVID-19 infections in Toronto, Mayor John Tory says the city is looking hard at new restrictions.

Calling the increase of 130 cases for Toronto reported by the provincial governmen “troubling,” Tory said rules could include applying the new smaller gathering limits to banquet halls and other businesses.

Toronto had asked Premier Doug Ford to apply the new limits — 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors — to businesses that host wedding.

But the new rules announced this week for Toronto, Peel and Ottawa apply only to private events and not Ones hosted by businesses.

The mayor said city officials will over the weekend what other steps Toronto can take on its own.

Tory said he learned Friday of a fifth Toronto wedding where infections occurred.

Toronto is also expected next week to introduce new mandatory mask rules applying to workplaces.

The Star’s David Rider and Jennifer Pagliaro has the story.

10:23 a.m. (updated): Ontario is reporting 401 new cases of COVID-19 today, a daily increase not seen since early June.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says Toronto is reporting 130 new cases, with 82 in Peel Region and 61 in Ottawa.

She says nearly 70 per cent of the new cases are in people under the age of 40.

The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 46,077, which includes 2,825 deaths and 40,600 cases classified as resolved.

There were also 176 cases newly marked as resolved over the past 24 hours.

The province says it processed 35,826 tests over the previous day.

The Star’s Rob Ferguson has the story.

10:15 a.m.: Hamilton has its first confirmed case of COVID connected to a school.

A late-Thursday release from Hamilton public health says a staff member at the Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton’s before- and after-school program at Templemead Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19. Templemead is located on the east Mountain and is part of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

“HWDSB is working with public health officials to facilitate case and contact tracing,” the release states.

No information was provided on when the person tested positive, nor what their role with the program is or when they last worked.

“It is vital that personal health information and identifiers are not released, and the privacy of everyone involved is respected,” the release states.

10:10 a.m. Two Canadian film and television organizations say hundreds of productions and thousands of jobs are on hold because the government has yet to intervene and help them get COVID-19 insurance.

The Canadian Media Producers Association and the Association québécoise de la production médiatique say $1 billion in production volume is at risk because of the lack of insurance options.

They have identified 214 camera-ready film and TV projects that cannot move forward because they can’t find insurance and say those productions would generate 19,560 jobs.

The organizations pitched a federal government-backed insurance program in June, but say politicians have yet to act on the proposal.

The groups say the lack of government help now means that the entertainment industry is facing an even more dire situation and they hope intervention will come soon.

Several Canadian productions were halted when COVID-19 started spreading across the country in March, but many are slowly returning with added precautions, including mandatory distancing and mask policies.

9:05 a.m.: The European Medicines Agency is recommending an inexpensive steroid be licensed for the treatment of people with severe coronavirus who need oxygen support.

The EMA says it is endorsing the use of dexamethasone in adults and adolescents age 12 or older who need either supplemental oxygen or a ventilator to help them breathe. The drug can be taken orally or via an infusion.

In June, British researchers published research showing dexamethasone can reduce deaths by up to one third in patients hospitalized with severe coronavirus. Shortly afterward, the U.K. government immediately authorized its use in hospitals across the country for seriously ill coronavirus patients.

Steroid drugs like dexamethasone are typically used to reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in COVID-19 patients as their immune system kicks into overdrive to fight the virus.

9:02 a.m.: Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.6 per cent in July to $52.9 billion, helped by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations.

Economists had expected an increase of 1.0 per cent for the month, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Statistics Canada says sales were up in six of 11 subsectors in July with the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector contributing the most to the increase with a 3.3 per cent increase. Sales at gasoline stations rose 6.1 per cent.

However, the agency said core retail sales, which exclude those two subsectors, fell 1.2 per cent.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers fell 11.6 per cent, while sales at food and beverage stores dropped 2.1 per cent.

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Retail sales in volume terms were up 0.4 per cent in July.

8:07 a.m.: Young people are reporting higher levels of stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those over age 60 despite their significantly lower risk of dying from the virus itself, a new study has revealed.

Levels of generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder are proving to be the highest and more prevalent among those under 25, while those over age 60 reported the lowest levels for both disorders.

These numbers are revealed in new research published in early September by Dr. Izunwanne Nwachuchwu from the University of Calgary, alongside researchers from the University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services. The study shows that 96 per cent of people under age 25 said they’ve experienced moderate or high levels of stress as a result of the pandemic, compared to 68 per cent of people over the age of 60.

Read the full story by the Star’s Nadina Yousif

7:31 a.m.: Canada’s top curling teams are trying to cobble together a competitive fall season despite the COVID-19 pandemic decimating the calendar.

The Grand Slam of Curling was whittled from six events this winter to just two scheduled for next April and November’s Canada Cup of Curling was cancelled, creating a competitive void for the country’s elite curlers.

A slew of September and October bonspiels across Canada have been called off, but some remain on the calendar.

Curling Canada’s return-to-play guidelines provide a template for events to go ahead with several modifications on and off the ice to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We want to play as much as we can under whatever guidelines are set and get some competition in,” said skip Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“That’s about all we can hope for. It’s not about going out and trying to win prize money and points. None of that stuff really matters.

6 a.m.: British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hinted that fresh restrictions on social gatherings in England could be announced soon as part of efforts to suppress a sharp spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.

Following reports that the government was considering fresh curbs on the hospitality sector, such as pubs and restaurants, Hancock said this is a “big moment for the country.”

He said that another national lockdown is the “last line of defence” and that most transmissions of the virus are taking place in social settings.

Hancock says the government’s strategy over the coming weeks is to contain the virus as much as possible “whilst protecting education and the economy.”

The government has come under sustained criticism in the past week following serious issues with its virus testing program.

5:45 a.m.: Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have topped 30 million worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

The worldwide count of known COVID-19 infections climbed past 30 million on Thursday, with more than half of them from just three countries: the U.S., India and Brazil, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins researchers.

The number increased by 10 million in just over a month; global cases passed 20 million on August 12.

5:31 a.m.: Joe Biden on Thursday went after President Donald Trump again and again over his handling of COVID-19, calling Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic “criminal” and his administration “totally irresponsible.”

“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton.

Speaking about Trump’s admission that he publicly played down the impact of the virus while aware of its severity, Biden declared: “He knew it and did nothing. It’s close to criminal.”

Later, Biden decried Americans’ loss of basic “freedoms” as the U.S. has struggled to contain the pandemic, like the ability to go to a ball game or walk around their neighbourhoods. “I never, ever thought I would see just such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration,” he said.

5:21 a.m.: China says imported coronavirus cases climbed to 32 over the previous 24 hours.

Thirteen of the cases reported Friday were in the northern province of Shaanxi, whose capital Xi’an is a major industrial centre. The eastern financial and business hub of Shanghai reported 12.

China has gone more than a month without reporting any cases of locally transmitted coronavirus cases within its borders.

5:18 a.m.: U.N. World Food Program chief David Beasley is warning that 270 million people are “marching toward the brink of starvation” because of the toxic combination of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beasley on Thursday urged donor nations and billionaires to contribute $4.9 billion to feed the 30 million he said will die without U.N. assistance.

He reminded the U.N. Security Council of his warning five months ago that “the world stood on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” and welcomed the response, which averted famine and led countries to fight back against the coronavirus.

Beasley said the U.N. food agency is keeping people alive “and avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe” but he said “the fight is far, far, far from over.”

5:14 a.m.: India’s coronavirus cases have jumped by another 96,424 infections in the past 24 hours, showing little signs of slowing down.

The Health Ministry on Friday raised the nation’s confirmed total since the pandemic began to more than 5.21 million. It said 1,174 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 84,372.

India is expected within weeks to surpass the reported infections seen in the United States, where more than 6.67 million people have been reported infected, the most in the world.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made a fresh appeal to people to use face masks and maintain social distance as his government chalked out plans to handle big congregations expected during a major Hindu festival season beginning next month.

5:10 a.m.: The Australian government on Friday announced a 5 million Australian dollars ($3.7 million) grant to the national news agency as part of pandemic-related assistance to regional journalism.

Australian Associated Press is critical to media diversity and has consistently demonstrated its commitment to accurate, fact-based and independent journalism over its 85-year history, including a strong contribution to regional news, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented challenges for Australia’s regional media sector, with severe declines in advertising revenue threatening the sustainability of many news outlets,” Fetcher said.

AAP provides services to more than 250 regional news mastheads across Australia, covering public interest content on national, state and regional news. This allows regional mastheads to concentrate on local news stories important for their communities, he said.

AAP Chair Jonty Low and Chief Executive Emma Cowdroy welcomed the funding as an “endorsement of the role that AAP plays in providing a key piece of Australia’s democratic Infrastructure.”

5 a.m.: Israel is set to go back into a full lockdown later Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting.

The three-week lockdown beginning at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) will include the closure of many businesses and strict limits on public gatherings, and will largely confine people to their homes. The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.

In an address late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures may be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalized in serious condition.

“It could be that we will have no choice but to make the directives more stringent,” Netanyahu said. “I will not impose a lockdown on the citizens of Israel for no reason, and I will not hesitate to add further restrictions if it is necessary.”

Under the new lockdown, nearly all businesses open to the public will be closed. People must remain within 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) of home, but there are several exceptions, including shopping for food or medicine, going to work in a business that’s closed to the public, attending protests and even seeking essential pet care.

4:05 a.m.: Four conservative-minded premiers are to issue today their wish list for next week’s throne speech on which the fate of Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government could hinge.

Quebec’s François Legault, Ontario’s Doug Ford, Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister plan to hold a news conference in Ottawa to spell out what they hope to see in the speech.

Billions more for health care is likely to top their list.

Ford and Legault last week called on Ottawa to significantly increase the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.

The transfer this year will amount to almost $42 billion under an arrangement that sees it increase by at least three per cent each year.

On top of that, the federal government is giving provinces and territories $19 billion to help them cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, including some $10 billion for health care.

4 a.m.: A new survey finds that young people have been vaping less frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The survey, conducted by the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and Smoke-Free Nova Scotia, finds that respondents decreased vaping to five days per week from six, on average.

They also cut back to an average of 19 vaping episodes per day, down from 30.

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario.

The researchers say it may be related to warnings of potential complications from COVID-19 for e-cigarette users.

The survey heard from more than 1,800 respondents between 16 and 24 years old, and found most begin vaping at around the age of 15.

Thursday 8.18 p.m. B.C. has once again topped its previous daily record for new COVID-19 cases, the Richmond Sentinel reports.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 165 new cases since Wednesday. That raises the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 7,663. There are 1,705 active cases, an increase of 91 from yesterday, and of nearly 300 from a week ago, the Sentinel reports.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said it’s important to put the high case count in context; yesterday, there were 7,674 tests conducted across B.C., the highest number in a single day since the pandemic began.

Click here for more of Thursday’s COVID-19 coverage.



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France seeks EU sanctions on Turkey over energy tensions | World News

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the European Union to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“We believe that the European Union must be ready to activate…all available tools and certainly to resort to sanctions, if developments don’t proceed in a positive direction,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey’s refusal to recall a warship-escorted research vessel it dispatched to a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece maintains is over its continental shelf. The dispute has ratcheted up military tensions between the two NATO allies.

The tensions appeared to ease in the last week, with Greek and Turkish officials having contact after Turkey temporarily pulled back the research vessel. But Ankara extended its gas search in waters southeast of Cyprus until mid-October.

Turkey doesn’t recognize ethnically divided Cyprus as a state and insists it have every right to prospect for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. It has vowed vowed do defend its rightful claims to the region’s energy reserves, as well as those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Beaune said the EU cannot accept Turkish actions and that France has “committed” to resolving the issue while making its military presence felt in the eastern Mediterranean in support of its EU partners.

———

This version corrects the spelling of the French minister’s surname to Beaune. not Baume.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Friday briefing: ‘Prejudiced’ Home Office not learning – MPs | World news

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Top story: ‘Too little intent to change’

Hello, Warren Murray bringing you matters topical this Friday morning.

The Home Office has drawn on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice” to draw up immigration policies instead of relying on evidence, the public accounts committee of MPs has concluded in a highly critical report. Priti Patel’s department was unaware of the damage caused by policy failures, with officials having “no idea” what its £400m annual spending on immigration enforcement achieves.

Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said that while the Home Office accepts the damage done by the Windrush scandal, “the evidence we saw shows too little intent to change”. Despite years of debate and concern, the department has not estimated the illegal population in the UK since 2005, meaning “potentially exaggerated figures calculated by others could inflame hostility towards immigrants”, says the report. A lack of diversity at senior levels has created blind spots in the organisation: “Only one member of its executive committee came from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.” On Brexit, the report warns officials have been caught “unprepared for the challenges”, such as cooperation with the EU on the return of foreign offenders and illegal migrants.

The committee has given the Home Office six months to come up with a detailed plan to fix problems, particularly with regard to tackling illegal migration. Minnie Rahman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the report was a “very accurate picture of a clueless, careless and cold-hearted Home Office”. A Home Office source said the home secretary agreed with the PAC assessment of “historical issues … She has spoken at great length about how the department puts process before people, and it is why she has committed to implementing the findings of the Wendy Williams review into Windrush.”


Coronavirus latest – Test and trace has been condemned as “barely functional” as its tsar, Dido Harding, admitted demand was up to four times capacity while 90% of tests were failing to hit the 24-hour turnaround target. The Guardian has seen documents showing tracers taking up to two weeks to alert contacts of people diagnosed with Covid-19. But Harding has told MPs: “I strongly refute that the system is failing.” Leeds and Lancashire are expected to face enhanced lockdown measures, bringing the number of people subject to restrictions to more than 11 million, including nearly 2 million in north-east England.

Just 1.9% of people using a home test kit in England got their results within 24 hours in the week to 9 September – the lowest since test and trace began in May. Results from 33.3% of in-person tests were turned around within 24 hours, down from 66.5% the previous week. Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has said in a CNN town hall: “I don’t trust the president on vaccines. I trust Dr Fauci. If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I would take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists, not to the president.” Follow further developments at our live blog.


GCSE gap narrows – Disadvantaged students in England narrowed the GCSE attainment gap with their peers this summer, according to an analysis. Based on this year’s results at 1,200 secondary schools, researchers found that 56% of disadvantaged pupils achieved a 4 or above in English and maths, compared with 78% of non-disadvantaged pupils. At 22 percentage points the gap remains vast, but it is an improvement on 2019 when it was 26 percentage points. A separate report has found that state schools in the most deprived areas of England have suffered their worst decline in funding since the 1980s. The decline that began under David Cameron’s Tory-led coalition is so deep that the additional £7bn pledged by the current government will not be enough to reverse the cuts by 2023, says the IFS. England spends around £6,100 per pupil a year, well behind £7,300 in Scotland where investment continued to rise over the course of the 2000s.


Russia still meddling: FBI – Christopher Wray, the FBI director, has warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 US presidential elections to undermine Joe Biden and sap Americans’ confidence in the election process. He said a “steady drumbeat of misinformation” could undermine confidence in the result of the election. On the US campaign trail, Donald Trump has been condemned for downplaying America’s historic legacy of slavery and claiming schoolchildren have been subjected to “decades of leftwing indoctrination”.


Toe springs’ internal toll – Trainers that curve upward at the toe may carry a risk of doing long-term damage to the wearer’s feet, researchers are warning. The “toe spring” is a common feature that helps the front of the foot roll forwards, making thick and cushioned soles more comfortable. But the effect on foot muscles had not been well studied until now. A team at Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany found the spring makes the muscles’ work easier but this might weaken them to the point where other structures in the foot, such as ligaments, take over, increasing the risk of conditions like plantar fasciitis. Responding to the study, Trevor Prior, consultant podiatric surgeon and spokesman for the College of Podiatry in the UK, said the detrimental effect was theoretical but people should wear a range of footwear to minimise the negative effect any specific shoe design might have.


Ockham’s poo knife – To test a folk story, Metin Eren from Kent State University in Ohio tried making a knife from his own frozen faeces. He tested it on animal hide – ending in failure but ultimately earning an Ig Nobel award for research that “first makes people laugh, and then makes them think”. This year’s awards included a physics prize for recording the shape of earthworms when vibrated at high frequency; a peace prize to India and Pakistan for having their diplomats ring each other’s doorbells and run away; and an economics prize for the UK after Chris Watkins, a psychologist at the University of Abertay, found French kissing is more common in areas of high income inequality. Boris Johnson shared a medical education prize with the likes of Trump and Putin for demonstrating during the pandemic that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors.

Today in Focus podcast: Amy Dorris – ‘Trump groped me’

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, former model Amy Dorris talked to Lucy Osborne about allegations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her at the US Open tennis tournament more than two decades ago, in an alleged incident that left her feeling “sick” and “violated”.

Today in Focus

Amy Dorris – Trump groped me

Lunchtime read: ‘I was 19 with cornrows from Harlem’

With the release of a new album, Alicia Keys picks favourite tracks from her back catalogue and talks about the magic of working with Kanye West, surviving the tough streets of New York and her struggles with self-worth.

Alicia Keys



Alicia Keys. Photograph: Milan Zirnic

Sport

Recently crowned US Open champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open in another serious blow to organisers of the tournament in Paris. Rory McIlroy made a solid start to the US Open, scoring 67 in the first round to lie two shots behind leader Justin Thomas. Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign the midfielder Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich for €30m (£27.3m) on a four-year contract. Goals from Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele secured a Europa League comeback win for Tottenham against Lokomotiv Plovdiv after the hosts had two men sent off. Jemma Reekie again emphasised her striking talent by beating her friend and housemate Laura Muir in a tactical 800m at the Rome Diamond League.

Rob Baxter backed the decision to allow Northampton to draft in Gloucester’s Alex Seville for the European Champions Cup quarter-final at Exeter on Sunday, but he accused the Saints of playing mind games to swing the decision. Fifty years after she helped form a breakaway women’s tour, the Fed Cup has been renamed the Billie Jean King Cup. And German amateur side SG Ripdorf/Molzen II sacrificed a tight defence for social distancing as they fielded only seven players as a coronavirus precaution in a 37-0 loss to local rivals SV Holdenstedt II.

Business

Asia-Pacific shares have been slightly higher despite the overnight fall on Wall Street. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched up as did South Korea’s Kospi and the Hang Seng while Sydney was little changed and Shanghai added 0.5%. A 0.18% fall is indicated for the FTSE at the open while the pound is worth $1.295 and €1.093 at time of writing.

The papers

Test and trace ‘barely functional’ as 10m people now face lockdown” reports the Guardian and our print edition’s front-page picture is of Amy Dorris who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump at the US Open in 1997. The Mirror also reports the 10m figure and “tough new local curbs imposed all over UK”.

Guardian front page, Friday 18 September 2020



Guardian front page, Friday 18 September 2020.

The Times reports “‘Chaos and inefficiency’ in Covid-19 testing labs” while the Telegraph has “Hospitals told to clear beds for Covid spike in two weeks”– both papers give a picture slot to models for London fashion week. Metro leads with “Cases up 75% in one week … 24-hour test results down 50%”.

“Here, at last!” – a debatable comma there but the Express continues “Virus test result in just 90 minutes”. It’s about the NudgeBox – as our report explains the device is a game-changer for testing where lab facilities are unavailable, but can only take one sample at a time, meaning a maximum of 16 tests in 24 hours. The Mail has “£1bn cost of maternity blunders”. The i bags a decent angle: “Emergency powers will allow use of unlicensed vaccine in UK”, saying the government is prepared to sidestep EU licensing laws. The FT goes with Brexit: “Von der Leyen ‘convinced’ Brussels can still reach trade deal with UK”.

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