The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
10 p.m.: Two City of Toronto workers in the Parks, Forestry & Recreation department have tested positive for COVID-19.
In a press release issued Tuesday evening, the City said it was made aware of the employees’ diagnoses earlier in the afternoon.
The workers were exposed to the virus sometime between July 6 and 10, the City said. The employees have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days by Toronto Public Health.
The City said that no children in CampTO programs, which began Monday, have been directly exposed to the employees.
The employees have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days by Toronto Public Health, the City said.
Through contact tracing, the city also identified 23 other employees who have been in contact with the two workers. All of them were advised to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, the City said.
The City said it is in the process of advising families, employees, the union and the public of these cases “as a matter of public transparency.”
Toronto Public Health advises that the risk of contracting COVID-19 for children and families at this CampTO program is very low.
9:25 p.m.: As gyms and fitness studios outside of Toronto prepare to open Friday, and those in the city look ahead for their turn, the owners of small studios say it will be impossible for many to reopen with the current limitations and lack of support.
Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening allows indoor gatherings of up to 50 people with two-metre physical distancing still in effect.
But gym and studio owners say operating at a significantly reduced capacity with little federal financial support might not be feasible and many may choose to stay closed or shut their doors for good.
9 p.m.: Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 13 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., bringing the total number diagnosed to 3,128. That was followed by 62 cases announced Monday over a three-day period.
She said the recent rise in cases is due to more people socializing when they need to recommit to the basics of keeping transmission low, including washing hands and gathering in small numbers.
“This is what is going to get us through the next year,” she said, adding she’s spoken with restaurant owners and employees who say some people are arriving in groups of 20, which would increase the risk of the virus spreading.
“People need to be on their best behaviour,” she said. “It’s for your safety as well as the people who work there.”
Anyone concerned about the high number of visitors to bars or restaurants should contact public health officials, Henry said.
8:15 p.m.: He’s doing his best to qualify as an “underground” artist.
Banksy made his mark on the London Underground, dipping into the subway with a pile of paint to coat a car with rats engaging in coronavirus-themed behaviors.
On Tuesday, the elusive English street artist — whose identity is studiously kept secret from the broader public — shared a video on Instagram showing the tube as it turned into his canvas.
Banksy dressed as a street cleaner, clad in white and bright orange with goggles and blue gloves.
In the tagged car, an unmasked rat sneezes specks onto a window. Another rodent dispenses hand sanitizer.
“If you don’t mask — you don’t get,” Banksy captioned the post.
Banksy often draws rats. He once coated his own bathroom with them.
At the end of the clip, the car doors close, and a painted sentiment blaring in blue on the wall outside the train — “I GET LOCKDOWN” —is replaced with lettering painted on the closing car doors.
“BUT I GET UP AGAIN.”
7:15 p.m.: Eight COVID-19 cases have been identified among thousands of people who attended recent anti-racism rallies in Calgary and Edmonton.
Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says the outcome could have been worse had so many people at the events not been wearing masks.
Hinshaw says she’s concerned about the rise in new cases in recent weeks, and that people might be starting to tune out public health messages urging the use of masks, hand-washing and physical distancing.
Alberta found 86 new cases of the virus out of nearly 6,000 tests done on Monday.
There were also two new deaths, one of which was linked to an outbreak at Edmonton’s Misericordia Community Hospital.
Hinshaw also says she was disturbed to hear about businesses turning away members of the Siksika Nation east of Calgary, where there are nine active COVID-19 cases.
The First Nation’s leadership have acted quickly, transparently and proactively to control the spread of the virus among its 7,500 members, Hinshaw said.
“When the result of that prompt and transparent action is stigma against their members, it sends a message against transparency and risks discouraging people from being tested or co-operating with public health,” she said Tuesday.
“The members of the Siksika First Nation deserve better than that. All Albertans of every heritage deserve better than that.”
6:36 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford is hitting the campaign trail, but he’s ruling out an early election call to cash in on a bump in the polls over his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with the Star on Tuesday, Ford was asked if his province-wide summer tour is to set the stage for a snap vote this fall.
“No, not at all,” the premier said from Waterloo. “We’re going to year four.”
That means the June 2022 election will go ahead as planned.
6:27 p.m.: Canada and the United States are now widely expected to extend their mutual ban on non-essential cross-border travel as COVID-19 destroys President Donald Trump’s hopes for a quick end to America’s public-health nightmare.
The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to “discretionary” travel like vacations and shopping trips since the pandemic took hold of the continent in mid-March, a rolling 30-day agreement that’s currently set to expire July 21.
Officials on both sides of the border who are familiar with the ongoing talks, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters not yet public, say another extension until late August is all but inevitable, thanks to a towering wave of new COVID-19 cases that’s swamping efforts to restore a modicum of normality in the U.S.
New York Rep. Brian Higgins, one of several members of Congress from northern states keen to see a plan for reopening the border, expressed dismay Tuesday at news he called disappointing but hardly surprising.
Recent calls from Higgins and others for a plan to start easing border restrictions have been greeted with social-media scorn and derision in Canada, where recent polls make clear the idea of allowing entry to Americans any time soon is a non-starter.
The novel coronavirus has been particularly resurgent in southern states like Florida, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana, where businesses tried to reopen early, contrary to the advice of public health officials, and the wearing of face masks became a partisan issue.
6 p.m.: As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 38,966 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,761 deaths, according to the Star’s latest count.
The rate of new infections in Ontario has fallen sharply over the last two months and has remained low so far in July.
Over the last seven days, the province’s 34 health units have reported an average of 127 new infections per day — well down from a sustained peak of nearly 600 cases per day, seen in late April.
Tuesday’s total, up 91 cases in 24 hours, does not include any new reports from Toronto, which has switched to updating just three days a week.
Meanwhile, another two new fatal cases were reported Tuesday, both in Peel Region; Amid the worst of the province’s epidemic, the health units reported as many as 94 deaths in a single day.
Earlier Tuesday, the province reported 137 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 30 in an intensive care unit, of whom 21 are on a ventilator — numbers that are themselves near the lowest the province has reported since first publishing hospitalization data in 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 — 2,723 — 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.
5:55 p.m.: In another rebuke of China, President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed legislation mandating sanctions for Chinese officials involved in Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong and issued an executive order that ends U.S. preferential treatment for Hong Kong.
The two actions are part of the Trump administration’s offensive against China for what he calls unfair treatment by the rising Asian superpower, which hid details about the human-to-human transition of the cornoavirus. The almost daily administration broadsides against China come as Trump is being criticized for the surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States and as he works to portray his expected Democratic challenger, former Vice-President Joe Biden, as weak on China.
U.S.-China relations are at a low ebb. Since the two nations signed phase one of a trade deal, the talks are currently stalled with virtually no hope of restarting before the November election.
4:30 p.m.: Federal opposition parties are demanding to know why the Liberal government created a $900-million program to help students find volunteer positions rather than putting the much-needed funds into an existing summer jobs program.
The call for answers comes as the government tries to chart a way forward for the new Canada Student Services Grant, which has been in limbo after WE Charity withdrew from administering the program amid controversy over its links to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family.
The Liberals have billed the grant program as a way to reward tens of thousands of students who want to help with the COVID-19 pandemic and can’t find paid work. Participants were told they could earn up to $5,000 toward their education costs by volunteering the maximum 500 hours.
Opposition parties say the Liberals could have accomplished the same task without controversy by putting the money into the Canada Summer Jobs program, through which thousands of positions for students are subsidized by the federal government every year.
4:21 p.m.: Manitoba’s 13-day streak without new COVID-19 infections ended Tuesday as health officials reported five additional cases, including that of an airline passenger.
The individual was on a WestJet flight from Winnipeg to Calgary on June 27 and on a return flight on July 2. All passengers on those flights are being asked to monitor themselves for symptoms, the Health Department said.
Investigations into how the five contracted the novel coronavirus are continuing.
Even with the new cases, Manitoba remains among the provinces with the lowest infection rates, with 330 confirmed and probable cases. No one was in hospital with the virus as of Tuesday and five cases were active.
The Progressive Conservative government has relied on the low numbers to reopen most businesses and relax many restrictions on public gatherings in recent weeks.
3:47 p.m.: Canada’s deputy public health chief says going inside a bar to have a drink with friends remains a high-risk activity in the era of COVID-19.
Dr. Howard Njoo’s reminder comes days before Ontario will allow indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars in much of the province.
Ontario’s decision, which takes effect Friday, comes against the protests of parents who fear it will lead to a second wave of COVID-19 that will keep schools from reopening in September.
Njoo would not link school reopenings to the risks in reopening bars but says young people often congregate in bars for long periods of time in close proximity and any indoor space is a higher risk for transmission than outside.
That has proven to be true in Quebec, which is now enforcing a provincewide mask order indoors and rolling back bar hours and patron limits after more than 30 cases were linked to nine bars in Montreal in recent days.
Premier Doug Ford says the decision to let bars and restaurants open for indoor use is a necessary economic move to save thousands of small, family-owned businesses from going belly-up.
3:40 p.m.: Montreal health officials say they have seen a rise in the percentage of positive results from COVID-19 testing over the past several days.
Positive cases are now about three per cent of the total, compared to about one per cent over the past few weeks, Dr. David Kaiser of Montreal’s regional health authority said Tuesday.
That percentage translates to about 10 to 15 cases per day, Kaiser explained, a relatively low positivity rate compared to the height of the pandemic, when authorities were conducting more tests.
“But if it’s sustained and if we don’t feel that we can get on top of where transmission is happening and stop it, that’s what’s more alarming,” Kaiser told reporters.
Health officials over the weekend called on anyone who visited or worked in a bar since the beginning of the month to get tested for COVID-19.
On Saturday, officials reported eight COVID-19 cases tied to Montreal-area bars. By Tuesday, Kaiser said that number jumped to a minimum of 30 cases connected to nine bars.
3:06 p.m. British Columbia’s government is predicting what was a balanced budget will balloon to a deficit of $12.5 billion because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finance Minister Carole James says the numbers are staggering with a predicted a GDP decline of 6.8 per cent and retail sales down 15.9 per cent.
James says B.C. has lost over 235,000 jobs since February.
The B.C. government has already tabled legislation giving itself room for three years of deficits and James says that will be re-examined each year.
2:50 p.m. Riverdale Farm and High Park Zoo are among free Toronto city attractions newly reopened — with limits — after being closed for months to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Mayor John Tory announced the reopenings Tuesday at the 7.5-acre working farm in Cabbagetown. The attraction, with a changing array of cows, pigs and other animals, is popular with children. Tory calls Riverdale Farm his favourite place in the city, citing visits first with his children and later his grandchildren.
“The reopening of the Riverdale Farm, High Park Zoo and conservatories in our city will provide families an opportunity to enjoy some of our city’s most treasured attractions,” the mayor said in a statement.
Only outdoor areas of both Riverdale Farm and the High Park Zoo, the oldest in the city, are open to the public for now. Signs notify visitors of physical distancing requirements. Washrooms and drinking fountains are getting extra cleanings.
Riverdale Farm opens daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. High Park Zoo is open from 7 a.m. to dusk.
Read more from the Star’s City Hall Bureau Chief David Rider: Riverdale Farm, High Park Zoo reopen — with limits
2:40 p.m. Premier Doug Ford says his government is taking steps to prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.
Ford has provided no details of the plan, but says the province’s health system is better off now than in the early stages of the pandemic.
The premier made the comments during a visit to a Cambridge, Ont., business that is manufacturing personal protective equipment.
Ontario’s hospitals are warning the province it must prepare the health-care system for a potential second wave of COVID-19 that could hit during flu season.
The Ontario Hospital Association says the government must develop a contingency plan to ensure regional service and staffing plans are in place ahead of a possible surge.
OHA president Anthony Dale says if a potential second wave collides with flu season, it will add significant pressures to hospital operations.
The call comes in reaction to the government’s decision to move most of Ontario to Stage 3 of reopening later this week.
Dale said moving to Stage 3 will represent a heightened risk for the province and it must be prepared to respond.
2 p.m. Canada’s deputy public health officer says the federal government would be having “a different conversation” with the Toronto Blue Jays about playing regular-season games at Rogers Centre if the United States and Canada were at similar stages in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Howard Njoo said Tuesday that discussions are ongoing between the Canadian government and the Major League Baseball team, but he said the issue of having both the Blue Jays and American-based teams continually crossing the U.S.-Canada border complicates the idea of hosting regular-season games.
Njoo said the federal, Ontario and Toronto governments were comfortable with the measures the Blue Jays put in place to safely train as a team at Rogers Centre.
1:55 p.m. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has written to his counterparts across the country, encouraging them to pressure the federal government to change the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
The program offers money to people who have lost work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Pallister says it has become a disincentive for people to return to work.
He says instead of cutting off benefits after people earn $1,000 a month, the federal government should reduce the benefit gradually as people’s incomes rise.
Pallister says he hopes Ottawa will agree to change the program if other premiers join his call.
Manitoba has among the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the country, and is launching a new tourism campaign to attract visitors from the other western provinces.
Pallister says precautions will continue during the pandemic, but the economy cannot remain shut down.
1:28 p.m. A Michigan sheriff’s deputy on Tuesday fatally shot a man suspected of stabbing another man who had challenged him about not wearing a mask at a convenience store, police said.
The shooting occurred in Eaton County, southwest of Lansing, about 30 minutes after the stabbing at a Quality Dairy store, state police Lt. Brian Oleksyk said.
A sheriff’s deputy spotted the man’s vehicle in a residential neighbourhood and shot him when he tried to attack her with a knife, Oleksyk said.
Sean Ruis, 43, of Grand Ledge, who worked at the Michigan Department of Transportation, died at a hospital. He was suspected of stabbing a 77-year-old man inside the store when he was confronted about not wearing a mask, Oleksyk said.
The stabbing victim was in stable condition at a hospital. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered people to wear masks in stores to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
The decision about whether to wear a mask in public for some has become a political statement, and there have been other instances of violent encounters over masks. In May, a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint was fatally shot after denying entry to a customer without a mask.
1:19 p.m. The government of Saskatchewan says two recent flights into Regina carried passengers who later tested positive for COVID-19.
In a post on its website, the government says Air Canada Flight 7947 from Toronto on July 4 and WestJet Flight 296 from Calgary on July 6 had confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on board.
The province doesn’t have information to offer on the affected seats on the WestJet flight, but says anyone sitting in rows 14 to 20 on the Air Canada flight may have been exposed.
The government is urging passengers to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after arriving at their destination.
People who think they may have been exposed to the virus on those flights can use the Public Health Agency of Canada’s self-assessment tool to gauge symptoms.
Saskatchewan also offers a self-assessment tool.
As of Monday, the province had 90 active COVID-19 infections with three people in hospital.
There have been a total of 871 cases, 766 people have recovered and 15 have died.
1:01 p.m. Health officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region say the number of positive COVID-19 tests linked to an outbreak in Kelowna has grown to 13.
Interior Health says six more people have tested positive and their activities are linked to events that occurred in Kelowna’s waterfront district between June 25 and July 9.
Those are in addition to seven people who visited the city earlier this month and later tested positive for COVID-19, triggering the health authority’s alert.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says possible exposures that occurred in the waterfront district are believed to stem from private parties held around Canada Day.
That has prompted a statement from Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran urging visitors to respect the advice of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and use appropriate “travel manners.”
Basran says visitors will come to Kelowna because travel restrictions are not in place, but he says people must take the health risk seriously and respect physical distancing rules and proper hygiene such as hand washing.
On Monday, health official announced 62 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 3,115.
1 p.m. Toronto’s projected $1.9-billion COVID-19 deficit has been reduced by $513.7 million in savings on wages, fuel, and services like crossing guards for school children, but unless other governments step up with emergency funding, drastic cuts to programs and services will have to begin within weeks, Mayor John Tory said Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference at city hall, Tory pointed out that Toronto and mayors in other cities have been lobbying for emergency funding from other levels of government since April. He called on the federal government to launch a national program for cities hard hit by costs incurred fighting the pandemic.
Toronto has experienced both a surge in costs for things like procuring additional shelter space for the homeless, supplying personal protective equipment to staff on the front lines, and overtime. Meanwhile, it has experienced a drop in revenue from services like the TTC.
“We are working to find savings wherever we can,” said Tory.
Without funding from the provincial and the federal governments, Toronto will have to make deep cuts to programming or significantly raise taxes, Tory has said.
On Tuesday, he said cuts will have to start by the end of summer if they are to have the required impact on the city budget.
Read more from the Star’s Francine Kopun: ‘We don’t have the luxury of time’: Toronto to make drastic cuts to services within weeks without help from Queen’s Park or Ottawa, mayor warns
12:43 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting one new case of COVID-19 in the province.
Public health officials said today the case involves a person in their 20s in the Moncton region.
Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says the case is related to travel outside the Atlantic provinces and the person is self-isolating.
She says each new case is a reminder the novel coronavirus can present itself at any time.
There have now been 167 cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, 163 of which are considered recovered.
New Brunswick has reported a total of two deaths attributed to the virus, and there are two active cases.
12:36 p.m. Ontario’s hospitals are warning the province it must prepare the health-care system for a potential second wave of COVID-19 this fall.
The Ontario Hospital Association says the government must develop a contingency plan to ensure regional service and staffing plans are in place ahead of a possible surge.
OHA president Anthony Dale says a potential second wave will likely collide with flu season, adding significant pressures to hospital operations.
The call comes in reaction to the government’s decision to move most of Ontario to Stage 3 of reopening later this week.
Dale says moving to Stage 3 will represent a heightened risk for the province and it must be prepared to respond.
12:24 p.m. Florida confirmed 132 coronavirus deaths Tuesday, a one-day record for the state.
That’s a 10% increase from the previous record set Thursday, but likely includes deaths from Saturday or Sunday not reported until Monday.
The rolling seven-day average is 81 deaths per day, currently the second highest in the U.S. behind Texas and double the 39 average two weeks ago. Doctors had been predicting a surge in deaths because Florida’s daily reported infection cases have gone from about 2,000 a day to more than 12,000 in the past month.
That is partly driven by increased testing. However, the percentage of tests coming back positive has increased from 6% a month ago to more than 18 per cent.
When COVID-19 was ravaging New York three months ago, it recorded 799 deaths on April 9 and had a top seven-day average of 763 deaths on April 14. It now has one of the lowest death rates in the country per capita, recording 10 per day during the last week.
12:24 p.m. More than 300 students and tutors have tested positive for coronavirus at high schools in the West African nation of Ghana.
Health officials confirm the Accra Girls Senior High School has been hardest hit, with 55 students and staff contracting the virus. Its campus remains under quarantine. Parents have thronged the school protesting the government’s refusal to grant them access to their children.
Classes resumed June 22 for senior high school students, and education officials maintain infection rates at schools are still comparable to those for the general population.
Ghana has 139 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and confirmed more than 25,000 total infections since the pandemic began.
12:24 p.m. Some 41 workers at Kenya’s largest maternity hospital have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Ministry of health Director General Dr. Patrick Amoth says 19 cases involve health care workers and 22 are hospital support staff.
He says those infected are asymptomatic and undergoing medical care under home-based isolation. Three mothers at the facility also tested positive for COVID-19, but Amoth says no babies have been affected.
He says services at the hospital will continue and measures have been put in place to protect the health workers and the public visiting the hospital.
Nurses Association of Kenya President Alfred Obengo says infection control prevention measures at the hospital weren’t followed.
The first doctor in Kenya to die of COVID-19 was buried Monday, amid calls by health professionals for better insurance coverage and compensation. Kenya has recorded 10,791 coronavirus cases and 202 confirmed deaths.
12:24 p.m. Italy has made contingency plans to transfer recently arrived migrants with coronavirus to military hospitals after their presence in a southern seaside town sparked protests among some residents.
Italy’s interior ministry says surveillance measures were beefed up in the apartment building in the Calabrian town of Amantea to ensure the quarantine is respected among migrants who tested positive for the virus.
Other migrants who tested positive after a rescue at sea have been quarantined on a ferry offshore.
12:24 p.m. A group of Florida teachers and parents took part in a “motor march” in Jacksonville to promote the reopening of schools “when it’s safe.”
Two grassroots groups — the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team and the Duval For a Safe Return to Campus — say they want the school district to put certain regulations in place until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available.
The 5-mile drive ended at the Duval County Public School headquarters just before the board’s meeting.
Marla Bryant, co-founder of the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team, told the Florida Times-Union the group’s primary concerns include requiring masks in classrooms, keeping desks 6-feet apart, rigorous cleaning and disinfecting at each school and a full-time distance learning option for all grade levels.
Previously, the district was criticized for not offering a full-time distance learning option for K-12 students who wanted to stay enrolled in their existing school. Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has said schools should reopen as planned next month.
12:24 p.m. Coronavirus infections are rising again in the Netherlands, with the country’s public health institute reporting 534 confirmed positive tests in the last week, an increase of 102 from the previous week.
The Dutch government has relaxed many of the restrictions to rein in the spread of the virus when it nearly swamped hospital intensive care units in late March and April.
The government is still calling on people to adhere to social distancing measures and stay home and get tested if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.
The health institute reported eight confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 16 people hospitalized in the last week. The confirmed Dutch death toll is 6,135.
12:24 p.m. Bosnia is reopening its border for the citizens of the European Union after four months.
Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija says the EU citizens must provide a negative test on the coronavirus to be allowed into the country. The test must not be older than 48 hours.
Bosnia and the rest of the Balkans have faced a spike in the virus cases in the last weeks after relaxing lockdown measures during the outbreak in spring.
Bosnia is not on the list of countries allowed into the EU after the bloc recently reopened its borders. The government initially said it, too, would not reopen for EU citizens.
This has triggered protests in the southern town of Mostar and elsewhere by people who are dependent on tourism and have been hit hard in the pandemic.
12:24 p.m. Serbia’s health minister is asking people to avoid protesting against the country’s restrictive measures to combat a surge in coronavirus cases.
For over than a week, thousands of people across Serbia have been defying a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people to demonstrate against the Serbian president’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protests started July 7 when President Aleksandar Vucic announced the capital of Belgrade would be placed under a new three-day lockdown following a second wave of confirmed coronavirus infections.
His government ended the plan and introduced a 10-person ban, but that hasn’t stopped the protests. Vucic and health officials say the mass gatherings have contributed to the virus surge.
Serbia’s Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar says in the past 24 hours, its recorded 344 new cases and 13 deaths in the country. That makes a total of more than 4,500 confirmed cases and 418 deaths.
12:06 p.m. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added four more states to New York’s quarantine list on Tuesday as he sought to contain the spread of COVID-19 from regions of the country where infection rates are growing.
The addition of Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin means that travellers from 22 states will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York.
The list of states that meet New York’s travel advisory’s metrics has continued to grow each week as coronavirus cases continue to spike nationwide.
Last month, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a joint travel advisory that applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positive rate over a seven-day rolling average.
Cuomo has warned that New York’s dropping number of infections could be reversed if out-of-state travellers lead to a rise in infections.
The state reported just five deaths of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and nursing homes Monday, but the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus ticked up to 1.5% from a level of about 1% where it had been since mid-June, and Cuomo said gatherings over the Fourth of July weekend were to blame for some of the new infections.
11:55 a.m. Quebec is reporting five additional deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the province’s total to 5,633.
The province also reported today another 109 novel coronavirus infections, for a total of 56,730, with 26,025 cases considered recovered.
Hospitalizations continue to decline, with 10 fewer patients being treated for the disease compared with the previous day, for a total of 295.
Among those in hospital, 21 are in intensive care, the same number as Monday.
The government says it conducted 9,072 COVID-19 tests July 12, the last day for which data is available.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Monday that mask-wearing will be mandatory in all public indoor places beginning Saturday.
11:48 a.m. Another essential worker has tested positive for COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the man in his 30s is not a health-care worker, but she did not disclose the nature of his work.
She says he recently returned from international travel and is recovering while self-isolating at home.
The latest case follows two cases in recent days at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown involving a health-care worker and a patient in the emergency department.
More than 100 patients and 125 staff were identified through contact-tracing, and Morrison says all tests done so far have come back negative.
She says some people who have been in contact with the health-care worker in the last few days may be tested a second time.
11:14 a.m. Sources say Canada and the United States are likely to agree to extend their mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries for another 30 days.
The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to so-called “discretionary” travel like vacations and shopping trips since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the continent in mid-March, an agreement that’s set to expire July 21.
Officials familiar with the ongoing talks, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters not yet public, say another extension until Aug. 21 is all but inevitable.
News of the likely extension, initially reported by the Globe and Mail newspaper, comes with COVID-19 resurgent in the U.S., particularly in southern states where businesses reopened early and the wearing of face masks has become a partisan issue.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility Monday after a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump.
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Trudeau says Canada is closely monitoring what he calls a “constantly evolving” situation, but won’t say whether officials have discussed extending the border restrictions beyond the standard 30-day window.
11 a.m. Much of Ontario is moving into the third stage of reopening as the number of new COVID-19 cases remain steadily low.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 111 new cases reported Tuesday with one death.
“Locally, 28 of Ontario’s 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, with fully 21 of them reporting no new cases at all,” Elliott said on Twitter.
“With 122 more resolved, there are 11 fewer active cases in the province,” she said.
There are 137 patients in hospital with COVID-19 with 39 in intensive care units. Of those, 21 are on ventilators.
Read the full story from the Star’s Robert Benzie: Ontario reporting 111 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
10:45 a.m. As the federal and provincial governments race to ramp up testing for COVID-19, a Richmond Hill company is breaking ground on a rapid, cheap and easy-to-use device to detect infection.
LooK SPOT, a portable rapid point-of-care antigen test device, is the brainchild of Laipac Technology Inc., a leading GPS electrical engineering company based in Richmond Hill.
The test, which is expected to roll out in September, will be able to detect proteins of the new coronavirus from a nasal swab sample in less than five minutes with 95 per cent accuracy, according to Laipac.
“It will be the start of something big,” Diego Lai, founder and CEO of Laipac Technology, said on July 8. “We have a lot of faith in this and hope it would become something that would help a lot of people.”
With no prior training required, the test is based on a technique called lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) —commonly used for home pregnancy tests — which only takes a few minutes to produce a result after a sample comes in contact with the LFIA strip, according to the company’s website.
10:33 a.m. A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it’s planning a series of escalating political and legal actions, including brief work interruptions, in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.
The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says it’s pushing back against the province’s emergency order because it suspends their collective bargaining agreement.
Union president Michael Hurley says his members are going to start by sending their MPPs emails this week, explaining how the order damages their workplace rights.
The union says it’s also planning legal challenges and will hold rallies outside of its workplaces on Friday.
Members of the union will vote on Monday night to see if it will be necessary to have a brief work stoppage the next day.
Hurley says that while the emergency orders were acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now a detriment to health-care workers and the emergency is over in most of the province.
A spokeswoman for the union confirmed on Monday that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of political action over the weekend.
10:04 a.m. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the wearing of masks will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England. The requirement is expected to take effect July 24.
The decision follows weeks of discussion by the government about their value during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are not out of the woods yet, so let us all do our utmost to keep this virus cornered and enjoy summer safely,” he said. Anyone not wearing a face covering can be fined 100 pounds ($125) and shops can refuse entry to anyone failing to comply.
10:04 a.m. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is signalling she favours people in hard-hit counties staying in their areas after major coronavirus outbreaks.
Germany has loosened many restrictions on public life during the past 2 1/2 months, but local authorities will consider new restrictions if the number of infections in an area exceeds 50 per 100,000 residents during a one-week period.
Last month, a partial lockdown was imposed on the Guetersloh region of western Germany after an outbreak at a slaughterhouse. Many other German regions refused to allow people from the area to stay unless they could produce a recent negative test.
Merkel asks, “isn’t it better for the hot spot itself to say, you can only travel anywhere if you have a negative test … than if we check at every hotel in Germany whether someone from a particular county is there?”
She says it’s being discussed with state governments, which are responsible in Germany for lockdown measures.
10:04 a.m. Regional authorities in Andalusia, on the southern Spanish coast, approved a package of measures making face masks mandatory in all open or enclosed spaces, including beaches and swimming pools.
People can take off their mask only to swim. Fines can reach 100 euros ($114).
Other exceptions are inside family homes or when eating, and for children under 6 or people with health problems.
Andalusia, home to such historic cities as Seville, Cordoba and Granada, is also famed for its beaches. Like the rest of Spain, it is trying to control outbreaks of the coronavirus after ending a national lockdown.
10:04 a.m. French President Emmanuel Macron says he wants to require masks inside all indoor public spaces by Aug. 1.
In an interview with French television networks marking Bastille Day, Macron says “the best prevention” for the virus are masks, social distancing and hand washing.
Macron says France’s virus reproduction rate is inching past 1 again, meaning each infected person is infecting at least one other.
Many other European nations required masks in indoor public space when they started easing virus lockdowns. France took a more relaxed attitude, recommending but not requiring masks.
Recent rave parties in France and widespread backsliding on social distancing — even within Macron’s presidential palace and other government facilities — have raised concerns.
France has confirmed more than 30,000 virus deaths.
10:04 a.m. Israel’s Health Ministry says the country has confirmed 1,681 new coronavirus cases, a record high.
Israel was widely praised for taking swift action early in the pandemic by closing its borders and imposing other restrictions to contain the virus’s spread. But since reopening the economy and schools in May following a more than monthlong lockdown, the number of new cases has steadily increased.
Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levi says the government is making every effort to try to avoid another countrywide lockdown.
“A general lockdown is without a doubt one of the tools that we try our utmost to avoid reaching for,” Hezi told Israel Radio, but says it remained an option authorities are considering.
Israel has recorded a total of 41,235 cases of the coronavirus. The country currently has over 21,000 active cases and confirmed at least 368 Israelis deaths from COVID-19, according to the Health Ministry.
10:04 a.m. A semi-official Iranian news agency says Tehran’s governor has imposed new restrictions because of a spike in coronavirus cases, ordering mosques and several businesses closed for a week in the Iranian capital.
According to the Tasnim news agency, Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpey, the governor, said the measures would apply to mosques and women’s beauty salons, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and coffee shops.
The development comes after Iran has been seeing a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths in recent weeks, including record numbers of deaths so far in the pandemic for the Middle Eastern country.
Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari says 179 more people died in Iran from the virus on Monday, bringing the country’s confirmed death toll to 13,211.
She says there were 2,521 new confirmed cases on Monday, more than half of which were hospitalized, bringing the overall number of infections to 262,173.
Iran is the regional hotspot for COVID-19, with the highest number of infections and deaths from the virus.
10:04 a.m. Austria is expanding a list of countries with banned flights to include six nations in the western Balkans, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Egypt.
Austria currently bans flights from eight countries and one region of Italy. The Austria Press Agency reported that only the latter — Lombardy, the Italian region worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic — is being removed from the list starting on Thursday.
The health ministry added 10 new countries in light of high coronavirus infection levels and kept the eight that were already on the list: Belarus, China, Britain, Iran, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. There are exceptions for flights bringing in freight, repatriated Austrians, medical caregivers or agricultural workers.
10:04 a.m. Africa’s coronavirus caseload has climbed above 600,000 as the pandemic on the 54-nation continent continues to pick up speed.
Africa surpassed the half-million case mark less than a week ago. The continent now has more than 610,000 confirmed cases. South Africa has the most cases on the continent, with more than 287,000.
South Africa’s public hospitals are already filling up, and the government on Sunday night reimposed a ban on alcohol sales to help free up hospital beds. The return of alcohol sales on June 1 was blamed for a surge in emergency admissions and an increase in the number of women and children killed.
Other countries struggling with shortages of medical equipment and personnel include Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, which has more than 33,000 cases.
10:04 a.m. The authorities in Thailand are suggesting almost 1,900 people quarantine themselves and get tested for the coronavirus after a breakdown in screening allowed two foreigners who tested positive for the disease to pose a risk to public health.
The agency co-ordinating Thailand’s coronavirus response also announced it was rolling back regulations for admitting foreign visitors to tighten up procedures.
Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the COVID-19 centre, said the agency was suggesting that 1,882 people whom a contact tracing app indicated may have crossed paths with an infected member of a visiting Egyptian military team self-isolate for 14 days and get themselves tested as soon as possible. Seven people already known to have had direct contact have already been quarantined.
Officials in the eastern province of Rayong closed several schools and a mall, sealed off part of the hotel where the Egyptians had stayed and gave free coronavirus tests for people who feared they may have had contact with the infected man.
The second case involved the infected 9-year-old daughter of a foreign diplomat whose family returned from Sudan and stayed in their condominium in Bangkok.
10:04 a.m. The official opening of the Dutch parliamentary year will happen without the traditional pomp and ceremony in September due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Hague municipality and the defence ministry says King Willem-Alexander’s traditional ride in an ornate horse-drawn carriage from a palace in the city to the parliament won’t happen and appealed to the public not to visit the city on Sept. 15.
Thousands of people usually flock to The Hague to line the route of the monarch’s coach ride to parliament.
The venue of the meeting of both houses of Dutch parliament has been changed from the historic Knights Hall to a church that is large enough to accommodate all 225 lawmakers with social distancing in place.
9:30 a.m. Premier Doug Ford is launching an election-style summer tour of Ontario as the province reopens after months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the next eight weeks, he will be travelling to seven regions, stopping in 38 ridings, and covering nearly 5,000 kilometres to thank Ontarians and the many businesses across this province for stepping up and doing their part during COVID-19,” Ford’s office said Tuesday.
The premier will be in Cambridge on Tuesday afternoon at Eclipse Automation, a company that retooled its machines to manufacture N95 and surgical masks and other medical supplies.
He will then tour Challenger Motor Freight to “thank workers for continuing to operate throughout the pandemic, including bringing essential products across the U.S. border.”
8:31 a.m. Pearson Airport in Toronto is eliminating 500 jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority announced Tuesday. That’s a workforce reduction of 27 per cent. The changes reflect a significant decrease in global air traffic, with passenger numbers at Pearson currently at operating at 1996 levels. The job reductions will be achieved through the elimination of unfilled positions, together with voluntary departures and layoffs.
8:05 a.m. Canadian trials have just begun for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine but its Quebec-based manufacturer is already downplaying its potential impact.
Dr. Bruce Clark, president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical company Medicago, cautions observers against holding unrealistic expectations that his product — or any of the numerous vaccines in development globally — will bring the pandemic to a screeching halt.
“Whatever vaccine we get in this first round — unless it’s a miracle — it’s not going to be perfect,” says Clark, whose company began trials for its proposed vaccine Monday in Quebec City.
“It’s going to have to undergo development, it’s going to take probably years to come up with an understanding of the right vaccine, the right approach. It’s not the panacea.
“To assume that we can have, in 18 months, the solution to a pandemic that comes around once in a generation, is naive.”
So much is still unknown about COVID-19, notes Clark, including how it may manifest during the flu season later this year.
He suspects a more likely scenario is that a vaccine will offer only part of the solution, along with new therapeutics and ongoing public health interventions.
Medicago’s first phase of clinical trials will test a plant-based product on 180 healthy men and women, aged 18 to 55.
The randomized, partially blinded study uses technology that does not involve animal products or live viruses like traditional methods.
Clark notes that vaccine developers typically use chicken eggs to propagate a virus, but Medicago uses recombinant technology involving the genetic sequence of a virus, with living plants as the host.
The resulting virus-like particles mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus, which allows the body to recognize them and spark an immune response.
Clark says the plant-based approach is significantly faster and offers more consistent results than egg-based or cell-based methods.
While it takes five to six months to propagate a virus in eggs, the plant-based technique requires just five to six weeks, he says.
“In a pandemic, something like COVID, if you’re able to cut that much time off development, you have a substantial impact on public health.”
7:46 a.m. The coronavirus pandemic is weighing heavily on the financial health of JPMorgan Chase, as America’s largest financial company set aside billions in the second quarter to cover potential losses from all the businesses and consumers who are unable to pay their debts due to the slumping economy.
The results offer a glimpse into how badly the pandemic is impacting the financial health of American consumers and businesses. Last quarter, when the coronavirus pandemic had only just begun, JPMorgan set aside nearly $8.3 billion (U.S.) to cover loan losses. The bank added additional $10.5 billion (U.S.) to those reserves this quarter.
The year-over-year decline was almost entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic. JPMorgan reported its highest quarterly revenue in its history, but those gains were overtaken by the money set aside to cover potentially bad loans.
Whether JPMorgan and the other big banks have set aside enough money to cover bad loans remains unclear, but the outlook does not look good.
The coronavirus pandemic is now in its fifth month in the U.S., with infections hitting records in several states and economies shutting down again. Enhanced unemployment benefits run out at the end of the month, and at this point many consumers are upward of 90 days past due on their debts.
“Despite some recent positive macroeconomic data and significant, decisive government action, we still face much uncertainty regarding the future path of the economy,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in a prepared statement.
JPMorgan is the first of the big six Wall Street banks to report its results this week, with Wells Fargo and Citigroup reporting on Tuesday as well. like JPMorgan, the other banks are expected to take significant losses on their loans this quarter due to the pandemic.
7:19 a.m. China is pushing harder to make territorial claims in the regional seas and even using the coronavirus pandemic to expand its influence and take strategic superiority, posing a greater threat to Japan and the region, Japan’s government said.
The report highlighting the government’s defence priorities was adopted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet on Tuesday, less than a day after the Trump administration rejected outright nearly all of Beijing’s significant maritime claims in the South China Sea in a statement likely to deepen the U.S.-China rift.
The Abe government’s Defence White Paper 2020 highlights what are potential Chinese and North Korean threats as Japan tries to further increase its defence capability. Under Abe, Japan has steadily increased its defence budget and capability and purchased costly American arsenals.
Defence Minister Taro Kono recently scrapped the deployment of a pair of costly U.S. land-based missile intercepting systems due to technical issues, and Abe quickly announced his intention to revise Japan’s defence guidelines, possibly allowing Japan to go beyond its conventional defence-only role under the Japan-U.S. security alliance, including discussing a possibility of acquiring a preemptive strike capability.
The White Paper accused China of using propaganda, including spreading disinformation, about the spread of the coronavirus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic may expose and intensify strategic competition among countries intending to create international and regional orders more preferable to themselves and to expand their influence,” the report said. “We need to closely watch their move with serious concern affecting the national security.”
6:10 a.m. Britain’s government will demand people wear face coverings in shops as it seeks to clarify its message after weeks of prevarication amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to tell the House of Commons on Tuesday that anyone failing to comply with the order could face a fine. The order comes into effect on July 24, giving shops and the police time to prepare.
Many European nations, including Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece, already require masks to be worn in enclosed spaces.
Britain, which has reported one of the world’s highest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, had taken a more relaxed attitude, recommending masks but not requiring them — at least until now.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who in the spring spent a week in the hospital being treated for COVID-19, had not been seen in public in a mask until last week. On Monday morning, he urged people to wear them. Monday evening, his government announced it would be compulsory.
5:35 a.m.: Vice-President Mike Pence travels Tuesday to Louisiana, which has re-emerged as one of the nation’s hot spots for the coronavirus only months after seeming to contain its outbreak.
The Republican vice-president was scheduled to meet with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, members of the congressional delegation and state health officials to talk about the state’s response to the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus.
Pence’s visit comes as Louisiana’s confirmed virus cases, percentage of positive tests and COVID-19 patient hospitalization rates are surging — worrying public health experts about the level of virus spread in a state that previously appeared successful in combating its outbreak.
“Louisiana has been on the radar, literally front and centre, of the White House Coronavirus Task Force since the very beginning. We’ve never come off of that radar,” Edwards said. “I think that’s a big reason why the vice-president chose to come to Baton Rouge and to Louisiana.”
5:32 a.m.: China said the number of people in treatment for COVID-19 in the country has fallen to just 297, with only three new cases of coronarvirus reported, all brought from outside the country.
No new deaths were announced, leaving the total at 4,634 out of 83,605 cases of the disease.
A pair of experts from the World Health Organization were in China on Monday to make arrangements for an investigation into how the pandemic may have spread after the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
5:28 a.m.: Australia’s Queensland state is toughening the punishment for those who break coronavirus quarantine rules. Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the current fines for breaking a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for some visitors or lying about their whereabouts may not be a sufficient penalty.
The maximum penalty will now be a higher fine or up to six months’ imprisonment.
Queensland reopened its borders to all but Victoria state residents two weeks ago. Victoria is the centre of Australia’s recent outbreak, adding 270 new infections overnight to its more than 4,000 active cases.
5:25 a.m.: India’s number of coronavirus cases jumped by another 28,000 on Tuesday and are fast approaching 1 million.
The 28,498 cases reported in the past 24 hours took the national total to 906,752. Cases have jumped by 100,000 in four days.
The Health Ministry also reported another 553 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,727.
India has largely lifted its nationwide lockdown, and the virus has been spreading at a significant rate, prompting several big cities to impose partial lockdowns.
India is the third worst-affected country in terms of infections, only behind the United States and Brazil.
5:22 a.m.: Pakistan announced Tuesday it would resume vaccinations against polio next week, months after the drive against this crippling children’s disease was halted because the novel coronavirus had overwhelmed the country’s health system.
The anti-polio campaign would last three days, from next Monday, with the plan to have about 800,000 children vaccinated, the officials said. Police departments have received requests to ensure the safety of the polio workers.
5:20 a.m.: The British Columbia government is expected to give a financial update today on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected its residents, businesses and the economy.
Finance Minister Carole James says the pandemic has created “profound” challenges for people in B.C. and around the globe, fundamentally changing the ways people live and work.
She says the update will provide a summary of those impacts and outline the supports government has put in place and will continue to provide.
5:15 a.m.: A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it will announce “political action” this morning in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.
The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, will be making the announcement at Hamilton General Hospital.
A spokeswoman for the union confirms that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of some form of political action over the weekend.
The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill last week that would allow it to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.
4 a.m.: A new poll suggests Canadians are torn on whether the federal government should turn off the spending taps to keep the resulting deficit from flooding the nation’s future.
The Leger/Association for Canadian Studies survey found 41 per cent think that COVID-19 support programs and payments must immediately be scaled back.
Forty-four per cent think the payments to Canadians and businesses ought to continue even with the $343-billion projected deficit.
The poll suggests 78 per cent are worried about that bottom-line figure, and 60 per cent think the way out of the hole is to cut government spending, while 21 per cent say raising taxes is the solution.
The poll surveyed 1,523 Canadians between July 10 and 12 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random.
Monday 9 p.m.: British Columbia’s health minister says several COVID-19 exposures in Kelowna serve as a reminder of the risks posed by private gatherings.
Adrian Dix said during a news conference Monday that warnings of possible exposures at a restaurant, spin studio, bed and breakfast and resort are believed to stem from “private parties” at the hotels.
Eight positive tests for the disease are linked to visits to downtown Kelowna and the city’s waterfront between June 25 and July 9, said an email from Interior Health, the regional health authority.
“When people come together for private parties — in this case it was primarily people in their 20s and 30s — the risks are considerably higher,” Dix said.
The exposures follow the move to a new phase of reopening in B.C. that allows for tourism within the province. Although the accommodation industry was not ordered to close during the pandemic, many operators did so voluntarily but began welcoming guests again as part of the new phase.
Infections in B.C. inched up on Monday as health officials announced 62 new cases since Friday.
Two more people also died for a total of 189 deaths in B.C.
The new figures bring the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 3,115, while 2,718 people have fully recovered from COVID-19.
Monday 11:40 a.m. A store employee at Square One Shopping Centre has tested positive for COVID-19, according to media relations spokesperson Ashley Shantz.
According to Shantz, the employee’s last day of work was July 8. Management from the store closed the location for “appropriate cleaning and sanitization.” The store is still closed, confirmed Shantz.
Staff who worked with the employee have been asked to get tested and report any negative results before reopening.
Shantz could not confirm which store or restaurant the employee worked at, when the mall was notified of the positive case, or which position the employee held.
Why 1 small Regina school insists on daily temperature checks, 4-day weeks and mandatory masks in class
David Vanderberg says his school’s back-to-school plan exceeds the minimum safety standards set out by Saskatchewan health officials “because the bar is not set very high.”
“We feel as though we’ve got one chance to get this right,” said Vanderberg, the principal of Regina’s Prairie Sky School.
The school, which falls under the category of “qualified independent schools” that receive half of their funding from the province, only has about 80 students total, spread across Grades 1 to 8.
When Prairie Sky’s students return to class next month, they will have their temperatures checked daily by the front gate and be required to wear masks inside the classroom (though much of the school’s teaching happens outside, Vanderberg said).
Kindergarten students will be exempt from that rule, but will need to wear face shields.
The school will also cut its schedule to four days a week, down from four and a half.
“[That’s] one less day in the week that that potential transmission could occur,” Vanderberg said.
Responding to ‘a complete lack of leadership’
Prairie Sky School released its plan on Tuesday, the same day the province outlined minimum standards for mandatory masking and clarified that individual school boards would decide when to make the move to “Level 2” and require masks.
Vanderberg said Tuesday was the earliest his school could publicly release its plan because the province approved the plans for public and separate school divisions first and did not approve Prairie Sky School’s plan until Monday.
He said the province’s larger back-to-school strategy “demonstrates a complete lack of leadership.”
“It is putting the onus of student safety and staff safety on individual school boards and individual schools as opposed to taking the responsibility for that as a Ministry of Education and as the government of Saskatchewan,” Vanderberg said.
Carla Beck, the Saskatchewan NDP’s education critic, has criticized the province’s a-la-carte approach, saying it leaves school divisions open to “political fallout.”
Education Minister Gord Wyant has defended the choice, saying what works for a small school may not be appropriate for a larger one.
Not all families on board with masking
Vanderberg said a minority of families have requested to withdraw their child from the school because of the masking policy, but that other families want in because of the plan.
“The best we can do is say that we can put you on the waiting list,” he said.
Vanderberg said the school has tried to keep the conversation around masking “as fact-based as possible.”
“Overwhelmingly the response from the education community, the American medical community, in Saskatchewan and elsewhere in Canada has been that masking, when social distancing is not a possibility, is effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “So that’s what we’re going with.”
According to the minimum Level 2 standards released by the province Tuesday, Saskatchewan students in Grades 4 to 12 at schools using that level will need to wear masks in hallways, buses and other high traffic areas. Inside classrooms, however, “masks may be required….where it is not possible to maintain physical distancing or where students are outside of the cohort within their classroom.”
Vanderberg said the province allowed schools go over and above the minimum standards, so that’s what Prairie Sky School did.
Vanderberg acknowledged daily temperature checks will require a robust supply of thermometers.
“But that’s our job. And that’s important. And we’re going to find the money,” he said.
The school pays for the other half of its budget through fundraising and scholarships.
Most B.C. parents in favour of face masks in class, but divided on back-to-school plans, poll finds
Most parents in B.C. are in favour of sending their children to class with a face mask to wear, but are split on what should happen after school bells ring in September, a new poll suggests.
About half (49 per cent) of British Columbians surveyed by Insight West were in favour of the provincial government’s plan to reopen schools, while 42 per cent oppose it.
The poll confirms what Premier John Horgan already suspected — not everyone is pleased with the back-to-school plans, said the market research firm’s president Steve Mossop in a news release .
“Our latest poll on the state of readiness of parents and the general public to go back to school shows a significant level of fear and uncertainty,” reads his statement.
The poll suggests parents appear to be divided on three key facets: their comfort level with sending their kids back to class, their take on the idea of possibly wearing masks and their preferences between online and in-person learning.
If given a choice, four out of ten parents (41 per cent) prefer a mix of online and in-person classes, just over a quarter (27 per cent) would put their kids back in a full-time classroom setting and 27 per cent prefer all learning takes place online, according to the poll.
The poll suggests about half of parents (51 per cent) feel very or somewhat comfortable sending their kids back to the classroom, while another 30 per cent are not very comfortable and 19 per cent are not comfortable at all.
Parents also expressed concerns about isolating their children without any in-class learning and shortcomings in the quality of online learning.
Seventy-one per cent of respondents agree with the statement “if there is not in-class learning, I worry about my child(ren)’s socialization” and about two-thirds (63 per cent) concur that in-class learning is necessary because online instruction provides a “poor quality” of education.
Parents expressed concern
About half of parents (49 per cent) say they do not know how they will manage remote learning and a similar proportion (46 per cent) do not have childcare in place if their kids stay home, the poll suggests.
Parents were also split on whether their children would be safe from exposure to COVID-19 if they return to classrooms full time.
Four out of five of parents (80 per cent) agree they need more information about how the plan will work, and seven out of every ten (70 per cent) say the provincial government is not being strict enough with the rules around reopening schools.
Meanwhile, the majority of respondents (85 per cent) praise the government’s overall handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
Masks in schools
In an interview on Wednesday, Mossop said he was most surprised about the overwhelming support for masks in schools, which presents a stark contrast to what he has observed anecdotally while visiting malls and in transit.
“[It’s] what people do versus what they say,” he said, adding there was less controversy in the responses this time around compared to another poll from about a month and a half ago.
The latest online study sampled 825 B.C. residents from Aug. 5 to Aug. 9, according to the release. A comparable margin of error for a study this size would be +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
According to the B.C. government’s website, schools will be reopening with in-class instruction within learning groups, capped at 60 students for elementary and middle schools, and 120 for high schools.
The website states students and staff will not be required to wear face masks while at school.
It advises young children should not use masks and recommends staff and older students wear non-medical masks in situations outside their learning group and where physical distancing is not possible for an extended period of time.
“Wearing a mask is a personal choice that will always be respected,” reads the website.
Non-medical masks will be provided upon request.
Some Yukon students should wear masks on buses, says chief medical officer
Yukon’s chief medical officer is recommending that some students wear protective face masks on school buses this year, and in other situations where physical distancing is not possible.
Dr. Brendan Hanley’s recommendation is aimed at students aged 10 and older, but not mandatory.
“I make this recommendation based on emerging evidence that older children may be just as likely to transmit COVID-19 as adults,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday.
He said masks will be provided to students by the Yukon Department of Education. He also said mask use inside schools will be decided by officials at each individual school.
“The general approach, though, will be toward usage in corridors and in movement between rooms, but not in classrooms where children will already be well-spaced,” he said.
Hanley also said Wednesday that he still not in favour of making masks mandatory for all Yukoners.
Watch Wednesday’s news conference here:
Operational plans for each school
Classes begin at Yukon elementary and secondary schools on Aug. 20.
On Wednesday, Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said all schools have now developed their own operational plans for the coming year.
“Planning for this school year has been challenging, and different than other years. It has taken a tremendous amount of effort from individuals across the territory,” McPhee said.
The Yukon government earlier set out new health and safety measures for schools to follow when students head back to class. It includes hand washing and physical distancing requirements, as well as staggered breaks and pick-up and drop-off times.
Most Grade 10 to 12 students will only go to class part-time in Whitehorse, in an effort to keep student numbers low and maintain physical distancing. Elementary school students and high schoolers outside Whitehorse will go to school full-time, with those enhanced safety measures.
The operational plans for each school spell out how those safety measures will be observed. For example, at F.H. Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse, students in Grades 8 and 9 will be put in “pods” to limit movement in the building. That means they will remain in the same class most of the day.
McPhee said operational plans can be found on each school’s website.
She said that all plans will be monitored through the coming weeks and adjusted if necessary.
“We are completely invested in this school year being successful for students,” she said.
Some parents and teachers have been vocal about their concerns for the school year. Some, including hospital workers, have opted to home-school their kids to keep them safe, while others say they can’t afford that option.
Parents of high school students in Whitehorse have also raised concerns about their reduced class time, saying it could lead to added stress and poor grades.
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