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Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario health units report most new COVID-19 infections in more than three weeks; The Weeknd donates $500,000 to Scarborough Health Network

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KEY FACTS

  • 12:30 p.m.: COVID-19 has exploded among agri-farm workers outside Windsor with almost 200 new cases

  • 11:28 a.m.: New federal COVID-19 models show continued progress, but with significant hotspots.

  • 9:30 a.m.: The Weeknd donates $500,000 to Scarborough Health Network

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

5:52 p.m.: Ontario’s public health units reported the most new COVID-19 infections in more than three weeks Monday, according to the Star’s latest count.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, the health units were reporting a total of 36,963 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,716 deaths, up a total of 232 new cases since Sunday evening.

However, that tally also included an administrative drop after Toronto Public Health removed several duplicate cases from its records. The health unit said the city saw another 62 new infections Monday, but after adjusting for the duplicates the city’s running total fell by 10.

Accounting for these cases, the province saw a total of 304 COVID-19 cases reported since the same time Sunday, the most since June 8.

That high one-day count included another 88 new cases in the Windsor-Essex health unit, which again reported dozens of infections among migrant farm workers.

Meanwhile, 10 more fatal cases were reported Monday. The daily rate of deaths has fallen sharply in the province since peaking in early May, when the health units reported as many as 94 deaths in a single day.

Earlier, the province reported that 232 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19, including 46 in intensive care, of whom 35 are on a ventilator. All three totals are near the lowest the province has reported in data that goes back to early April.

The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths — 2,665 — may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to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.

3:55 p.m.: Nunavut lifted more COVID-19 restrictions Monday, announcing immediate family members can visit elders in its long-term-care facilities.

As well, residents are now able to gather in groups of up to 50 people while outside, and households are able to gather with groups of up to 10 additional people in private dwellings.

“We need to remain diligent in our collective commitment to practise distancing and good hand hygiene,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer.

Starting Monday, day camps and youth centres are allowed to resume operations, and the limit for some official indoor gatherings is now 50 people, or half of the capacity of the building, whichever is less.

This includes places of worship, conference facilities, community halls, rental meeting spaces and gatherings organized by the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut, municipal corporations or regional Inuit organizations.

“If you make the choice to participate in a large gathering or attend an indoor event, or even meet up with friends for dinner, please also choose to be responsible and choose to take actions that will keep yourself, your community and your territory safe,” Patterson said.

There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.

2:45 p.m.: The British Columbia government has introduced a program aimed at creating work for 15-to-29-year-old youth in community service while their job prospects are dramatically affected by COVID-19.

Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark says almost 25 per cent of youth are unemployed in B.C. and the program would give them an opportunity to work outdoors on initiatives such as building trails or cleaning beaches.

She says the $5-million program would provide up to $10,000 in grants for community projects lasting up to 16 weeks.

Youth would receive a training stipend of up to $2,000 per four-week period to a maximum of $8,000 for work until the end of October.

2:30 p.m.: A report released Monday by the non-profit Basic Income Canada Network features 141 anonymized stories collected from people across Canada in April and highlights the myriad of different situations where a basic income would allow someone to get a job, retain their dignity, or in some cases, save their life.

And right now, while Canada ponders a recovery from COVID-19, is the best time to implement a basic-income program, said Sheila Regehr, founding member and chairperson of Basic Income Canada Network.

Read the full story from the Star’s Wanyee Li.

1:28 p.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says an ongoing review of the federal response to COVID-19 will feed into plans for responding to a potential second wave of the novel coronavirus.

Trudeau says there are plenty of things that in hindsight the government might have done differently or sooner, but he didn’t go into details.

He says the federal government will be able to respond with sufficient fiscal room if economic lockdowns are required to combat a second wave of COVID-19.

He says the government is planning for a worst-case scenario and hoping for the best.

The latest federal figures show direct spending at just over $174 billion, including another increase to the budget for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit that is now expected to cost $80 billion.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is scheduled to provide an updated snapshot of federal finances next week.

1 p.m. (updated): The latest COVID-19 projections based on possible scenarios were released Monday by Canada’s top public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

Cumulative COVID-19 cases by July 12 could range from 103,940 to 108,130 — Canada is already at 103,250.

Cumulative deaths by July 12 could range from 8,545 to 8,865 — Canada is already at 8,522.

New federal models show continued progress in suppressing the spread of COVID-19, but with significant hotspots.

The figures released by the Public Health Agency of Canada show that some areas have been more heavily impacted by COVID-19 than others, specifically Quebec and Ontario.

The hotspots in the past few days include parts of Saskatchewan, Toronto, Montreal and around the border town of Windsor, Ont.

At this point, transmission of the novel coronavirus appears under control nationally with any fluctuations due to localized outbreaks, Tam said.

She said people under the age of 40 account for a greater proportion of cases after that has been steep declines in case numbers for people over 80 years old in recent weeks.

12:30 p.m.: COVID-19 has exploded among agri-farm workers outside Windsor with almost 200 new cases on the weekend and public health units from London and elsewhere sending staff to help control the outbreaks.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 87 more cases in farm workers Monday on top of 96 the previous day — both highs for the region and all at the same operation officials would not identify.

“It’s unprecedented. Nobody was expecting this high number,” medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed told a news conference Monday in Windsor.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson.

Over the weekend, the Star’s work and wealth reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh looked at the living and working conditions of the migrant workers.

11:53 a.m.: Quebec has resumed releasing daily COVID-19 data following a widely criticized three-day interruption.

The province is reporting 72 new cases of the novel coronavirus compared with the prior day, for a total of 55,390.

Authorities also report five additional deaths from COVID-19 within the past 24 hours, and two deaths that occurred before June 21, for a total of 5,485.

Last week, public health authorities said they would end daily COVID-19 updates in favour of a weekly summary, but reversed that decision after public outcry.

During the three days for which there was no daily update — Friday through Sunday — the province reported 30 deaths attributed to COVID-19, an average of 10 per day.

The province also reported 239 new cases of the virus during the same three-day period, for an average of nearly 80 cases per day.

11:45 p.m. (updated): Five more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak related to a nail salon in Kingston, Ont., including an employee at another salon.

The Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health unit says a total of 27 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus are linked to Binh’s Nail and Spa.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the region’s medical officer of health, says a worker at Kingdom Nails & Spa was in close contact with a staff member at Binh’s, and they have also tested positive for COVID-19.

Moore recommends that anyone who attended Kingdom on June 17 or between June 21 and June 25 get tested.

He says the growth rate of the outbreak depends on what steps people in the Kingston area take in the next two weeks to protect themselves and others.

On Friday the City of Kingston made it mandatory to wear a face mask in all indoor public places.

11:28 a.m. (updated): Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says new federal models show continued progress in suppressing COVID-19, but with significant hotspots.

He says the restrictions Canadians have lived with through the spring have worked to get the novel coronavirus under control. But if we let up, Trudeau says the country could still be at risk.

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A new explosion in cases could mean a return to tight restrictions, he warns.

He says rising COVID-19 numbers in the United States demonstrate the need for continued vigilance north of the border, including keeping physical distances from each other wherever possible.

More details on the federal government’s outlook are to come at mid-day Eastern time, in a news conference with Canada’s top public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

10:10 a.m.: The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit which pays $2,000 per month, is being extended from 16 weeks to 24. However, eventually coverage will run out, as it will for those who qualified for employment insurance during the pandemic, too.

It’s not too soon to strategize about what’s next for work and your finances. Here’s a road map to help you through the transition.

9:30 a.m.: Local artist The Weeknd has donated $500,000 to the Scarborough Health Network “in support of COVID-19 relief efforts,” said a press release Monday morning.

“I was raised in Scarborough and felt it was important to give back to the community that raised me during the hard times of this pandemic,” The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, said in the release.

The donation from the Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and record producer came through sales of The Weeknd’s signature ‘XO’ face masks. XO is his record label.

“The donation is a leading gift to the health network’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which now totals more than $2.7 million,” reads the release from Scarborough Health Network.

More than 3,500 donors have contributed to the fund to date, according to Scarborough Health Network.

Dr. Elaine Yeung, corporate chief and medical director of medicine at Scarborough Health Network said the donation represents “Scarborough’s incredible spirit and collective passion for shaping a brighter, healthier future.

“Like The Weeknd, many of my fellow frontline workers either come from Scarborough or call this community home,” Yeung said in the news release. “It is amazing to see one of our own on the world stage, giving back during our community’s time of need; generous support like this inspires us to keep going.”

8:50 a.m.: Some of the Blue Jays’ top prospects are among a group of 58 players invited to a second training camp that looks more and more like it will land in Toronto this week.

Team president Mark Shapiro has yet to receive government approval for the Jays to host the camp. Shapiro said Friday he has been speaking to “all three levels of government.”

But two sources said Sunday evening that players were told last week to expect Toronto to be home to both the camp and regular-season games. Major-league camps can open as early as Wednesday, with the 60-game season starting July 23 or 24.

The Star’s Mark Zwolinski has the story.

8:20 a.m.: Data from Sheridan Villa shows seniors isolated by COVID-19 are increasingly depressed and suffering from falls, unexpected weight loss and pressure ulcers. The Star’s Moira Welsh has the stories behind the data and the lasting impact it may have.

6:13 a.m.: The three levels of government must “flip the switch” and quickly create new housing for homeless people in Toronto ahead of an anticipated second wave of COVID-19, says the executive director of a community health centre in the city.

Angela Robertson, executive director of Parkdale Queen West community health centre and a co-lead on the Toronto region COVID-19 homelessness/shelter working group, says the governments must quickly transition to a short-term strategy for housing the homeless. That strategy should include reinvesting in new affordable housing construction, turning existing vacant buildings into affordable units and putting money into creating new rooming houses and supportive units.

“We have seen what political will and commitment can do in the immediate short term to respond to the challenges that COVID brought to our communities, to the economy,” Robertson says, referring, for example, to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which provides temporary income to those who lost work during the pandemic.

Read the full story from the Star’s Housing reporter Donovan Vincent here.

6 a.m.: Canadian Blood Services is gearing up to start testing for COVID-19 antibodies in the next few weeks, contributing to a massive cross-country study to determine just how many people have been infected with the disease.

Chantale Pambrun, director of Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation, said the organization partnered with the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force in the spring. The task force was set up by the federal government to co-ordinate efforts around understanding immunity, and includes researchers from across the country.

The blood banks have been saving samples from people who donated in the past few months, which they can rapidly test to inform the task force, writes the Star’s May Warren.

5:15 a.m.: Fans of South Korea’s pro sports may be required to wear masks and discouraged from shouting or eating food when they possibly return to the stands in coming weeks.

Jung Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said such measures were being discussed as health authorities and the sports ministry map out plans for spectators to return to sports. The plans could be announced as early as this week.

Jeong said it will be crucial for the leagues to enforce distance between the fans. Limits on attendance could be eased as the country’s anti-virus efforts progress. South Korea’s professional baseball and soccer leagues returned to action in May without spectators.

The discussions on fans’ return come despite a resurgence of the virus in the Seoul area. South Korea on Monday reported 42 new infections, and authorities are considering stronger social restrictions if the epidemic continues to grow.

5:05 a.m.: The European Union is preparing a list of 15 countries whose nationals will be allowed to visit the bloc beginning Wednesday, Spain’s foreign minister, Aranch Gonzalez Laya, told the Cadena SER radio network.

The resurgence of cases in the U.S. means Americans may not be on that list. Gonzalez Laya said countries will be chosen according to their coronavirus status and the reliability of their data, she said.

“This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries, this is an exercise of self-responsibility,” she said. She confirmed that Spain will reopen its borders with Portugal despite rising infections there.

4:58 a.m.: India has reported a new daily record of nearly 20,000 new infections as several Indian states reimpose partial or full lockdowns to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

India’s health ministry has recorded 548,318 COVID-19 total cases as of Monday, a jump of nearly 100,000 cases in a week in the world’s fourth-worst affected country after the United States, Brazil and Russia. India’s death toll has reached 16,475, while 321,723 patients have recovered from the disease.

The capital district of the northeastern state of Assam on the Bangladesh border has reimposed a full lockdown until July 12 following a spike in cases. Another border state, West Bengal, has extended its lockdown until July 31.

4 a.m.: Health authorities are using a saliva test while working against a coronavirus outbreak in Australia’s second-largest city. The test appears to be less accurate than the nasal swab but is a more comfortable option.

Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the situation in Melbourne was “a genuine challenge now,” in part because the better situation elsewhere in Australia made it harder to tell people to stay vigilant.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Monday that 75 people had tested positive in the state in the latest 24 hours. She said the saliva test was first used in a Melbourne suburban hot spot on Sunday. The saliva tests in research were only 87 per cent as accurate as the nasal swab because saliva contained less virus than the throat, said Sharon Lewin, director of the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, which developed the saliva test being used.

Sunday 10:30 p.m. The number of active COVID-19 cases in a Calgary highrise condo building has prompted provincial officials to change the area’s regional classification on the weekend from “open” to “watch.”

According to Alberta Health, more than 60,000 people live in Calgary Centre and there are 34 active cases there — all of which spokeswoman Karin Campbell says are associated with Verve Condominiums. According to Alberta Health’s website, a watch is issued when there are at least 10 active cases in a region and there are more than 50 active cases per 100,000 people, and it says Calgary Centre is just over that at 51.4 cases.

It says that during a watch, the province is “monitoring the risk and discussing with local governments and other community leaders the possible need for additional health measures.” The next level up is enhanced, where “risk levels require enhanced public health measures to control the spread.”

Campbell says there have been 45 cases associated with the condo building and that 11 of them have recovered.

Alberta reported 39 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday but no new deaths. There are 216 active cases in the Calgary zone.

Click here to read more of Sunday’s coverage.



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COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What’s happening Saturday, July 11

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The Charlottetown Farmers’ Market is open for its second weekend as an open-air market.

About 30 vendors are set up around the perimeter of the parking lot on Belvedere Ave. Customers are asked to park across the street at UPEI.

The market is also operating on reduced hours, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Despite physical distancing rules, there are still plenty of fun things to do this weekend, including the Cavendish Beach Drive-In Concert Series that begins Saturday. 

Fabric stores on P.E.I. are seeing an increase in business as more people are making their own face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Health PEI told employees in an email earlier this week that all staff who come in contact with patients and who aren’t able to physically distance must now wear medical masks. Officials say the province has enough masks to last eight or nine weeks, if staff use an estimated 100,000 masks per week.

Education Minister Brad Trivers gave more details to CBC News on how schools will operate in the fall — students will not be required to physically distance in classrooms or on buses, he said, but may have to wear face masks in hallways.

The Education Department is considering adding mobile classrooms at some schools including Montague Consolidated and Eliot River Elementary, since the schools need extra room for spacing due to COVID-19 restrictions. (John Robertson/CBC)

Nurses on P.E.I. said they are are starting to feel the pressure of there not being enough of them to go around, says the president of the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union.

The P.E.I. Humane Society says dog bites are on the rise this year, and believe it’s likely linked to more people staying at home because of the pandemic. 

P.E.I. has had a total of 33 COVID-19 cases, with 27 considered recovered.

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Today’s coronavirus news: Texas sees deadliest week of the pandemic; Australia approves experimental drug to treat severe cases of COVID-19; Dozens of US Marines in Japan’s Okinawa get coronavirus

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

8:41 a.m.: Dozens of U.S. Marines have been infected with the coronavirus at two bases on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa in what is feared to be a massive outbreak, Okinawan officials said Saturday, demanding an adequate explanation from the U.S. military.

Okinawa prefectural officials said they could say only that a “few dozen” cases had been found recently because the U.S. military asked that the exact figure not be released. The outbreaks occurred at Marine Corps. Air Station Futenma, which is at the centre of a relocation dispute, and Camp Hansen, Okinawan officials said.

Local media, citing unnamed sources, said about 60 people had been infected.

“Okinawans are shocked by what we were told (by the U.S. military),” Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki told a news conference. He questioned disease prevention measures taken by the U.S. military and renewed his demand for transparency regarding the latest development.

8:01 a.m.: “Working in an industry where you aren’t properly represented or embraced, there is always a constant fight. For me personally, I think the challenge I have felt is one that is mental,” Toronto-based fashion designer Spencer Badu says.

These are some of the lessons on how to be vulnerable, voice his emotions and find a larger purpose in his identity the 27-year-old has learned amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing global protests against anti-Black racism. “Internalizing and suppressing the trauma is part of the Black experience,” he adds.

He has to deal with both the feeling of sorrow and pain from seeing his Black brothers and sisters being killed on the streets and the feeling of pressure to be creative and constantly moving toward the future and trying to inspire change.

Another huge test in the recent months — the COVID-19 pandemic — which slowed down and shuttered businesses across the country. “I’ve been on a constant grind and the pace of fashion is ruthless. We’re a small team so the work can get really exhausting.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Evelyn Kwong on how a young Black fashion designer is channelling his energy into his craft amid a pandemic.

7:31 a.m.: On June 30, North York General Hospital marked a milestone: After 100 days there were no COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit.

That morning, staff gathered to quietly celebrate and reflect on the harrowing weeks of treating the sickest coronavirus patients. The hospital, at Leslie Street and Sheppard Avenue East, was among the first in the GTA to see a wave of critically ill patients with the virus; at its peak, the community hospital had 12 COVID patients in its 21-bed ICU.

Now, during this lull, staff are taking some much-needed time off, though they are not letting down their guard. There are still six COVID patients in the hospital who could require intensive care, and they know new patients can be admitted any time.

Read the Star’s Megan Ogilvie’s latest on a hospital staff’s fear of a second wave of COVID-19.

7:19 a.m.: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says “things will get worse” in the state as more than 10,000 patients are now hospitalized with the coronavirus.

The deadliest week of the pandemic yet in Texas continued Friday with 95 new deaths.

On the Texas-Mexico border, Starr County Judge Eloy Vera says his rural community is trying to get a refrigerated trailer because the local funeral home can’t keep up with more than two bodies a day.

Texas members of Congress are asking the Trump administration for a field hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. They warn in a letter sent Friday to the health and human services secretary Azar that there is “no indication that case counts will level out soon.”

7:15 a.m.: Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration has given provisional approval to the drug remdesivir, an experimental medicine that has shown promise in the recovery time of the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

The approval comes as Australia is seeing a sharp increase in coronavirus infections in the state of Victoria, which reported a record 288 new confirmed cases Friday.

Authorities say remdesivir will be available only to patients who are severely ill, require oxygen or high-level support to breathe, and are in hospital care. It is the only drug licensed by both the U.S. and the European Union as a treatment for people with severe illness from the coronavirus.

With a population of 26 million, Australia has recorded more than 9,000 coronavirus cases, with 107 deaths.

7:11 a.m.: South Korea has reported 35 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its caseload to 13,373 infections and 288 deaths.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that 13 of the new cases were in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the centre of a virus resurgence since late May.

Infections were also reported in other major cities such Daejeon and Gwangju, where patients have been tied to various places, including churches, a Buddhist temple, churches, nursing homes and a sauna.

Fifteen of the new cases were linked to international arrivals as the virus continues to spread in Asia, North America and elsewhere.

7:08 a.m.: New coronavirus cases have dropped sharply in China, and authorities are turning their attention to concerns that the virus could spread through imported food.

Those worries have risen since a June outbreak in Beijing that was linked to the city’s largest wholesale market.

Testing has been stepped up on incoming food shipments, and on Friday customs officials said they are halting imports from three Ecuadorian shrimp producers after tests showed the virus present in recent shipments.

Authorities say the coronavirus was detected on the outer packaging of the shipments July 3. The inner packaging and the shrimp themselves tested negative. Products from the three companies received after March 12 have been ordered to be returned or destroyed.

7:03 a.m.: India’s coronavirus cases have passed 800,000 with the biggest spike of 27,114 cases in the past 24 hours, causing nearly a dozen states to impose a partial lockdown in high-risk areas.

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The new confirmed cases took the national total to 820,916. The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported another 519 deaths for a total of 22,123.

A surge in infections saw the cases jumping from 600,000 to more than 800,000 in nine days. The ministry said the recovery rate was continuing to improve at more than 62%.

Eight of India’s 28 states, including the worst-hit Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi, account for nearly 90% of all infections.

6:06 a.m.: At least two doctors in Syria’s opposition-held northwest have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a monitoring group Saturday, raising the total number of cases in the overcrowded rebel enclave to three.

The Syrian opposition and militant groups control the Idlib area, which is home to more than 3 million people, most of them displaced by the war and living in tent camps and overcrowded facilities. Local health facilities have been targeted in Syrian government attacks that have recently displaced nearly a further million people.

The Early Warning and Alert Response Network, which reports on the virus, said the two doctors had been in touch with patient zero, another doctor who works in a hospital in Idlib. The first case was reported on Thursday and the hospital where the doctor works has since suspended its operations and quarantined patients and support staff to carry out testing.

12:47 a.m.: In his push to get schools and colleges to reopen this fall, President Donald Trump is again taking aim at their finances, this time threatening their tax-exempt status.

Trump said on Twitter on Friday he was ordering the Treasury Department to re-examine the tax-exempt status of schools that he says provide “radical indoctrination” instead of education.

“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” he tweeted. “Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!”

The Republican president did not explain what prompted the remark or which schools would be reviewed. But the threat is just one more that Trump has issued against schools as he ratchets up pressure to get them to open this fall. Twice this week Trump threatened to cut federal funding for schools that don’t reopen, including in an earlier tweet on Friday.

Friday 11:54 p.m.: Health officials are reporting eight cases of COVID-19 linked to public gatherings in Kelowna, British Columbia, during and around the Canada Day long weekend.

The Interior Health Authority says people who attended private gatherings, restaurants and bars from June 25 to July 6 in downtown and waterfront areas of the city may have been exposed to the illness.

Six of the eight cases are people who don’t live in the region and public health contact tracing is underway.

Officials are urging anyone who took part in such gatherings during this time period to closely monitor themselves for symptoms.

Friday 6 p.m.: Ontario’s regional health units are reporting 38,470 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,752 deaths, an increase of 118 cases since Thursday evening, according to the Star’s latest count.

The rate of new infections has fallen sharply in the province 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 130 new infections per day, well down from a sustained peak of nearly 600 cases per day, seen in late April.

Friday’s low total included two days’ worth of data in Toronto, which nevertheless reported a low 42 new cases.

Starting this week, Toronto Public Health switched to reporting cases only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As such, the provincewide count of COVID-19 cases reported each day is likely to be higher than typical on those days.

Another 10 new fatal cases were reported Thursday, seven in Toronto and one each in York, Waterloo and Niagara Regions. During the worst of the province’s epidemic, the health units reported as many as 94 deaths in a single day.

Earlier Friday, the province reported 117 patients are hospitalized, including 34, who are in an intensive care unit, of whom 24 are on a ventilator. These numbers 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, 2,710, 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. This means 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.

Click here to read more of Friday’s coverage.



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COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What’s happening Friday, July 10

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Health PEI told employees in an email earlier this week that all staff who come in contact with patients and who aren’t able to physically distance must now wear medical masks. Officials say the province has enough masks to last eight or nine weeks, if staff use an estimated 100,000 masks per week.

Also on Friday, the government announced details on the reopening of a testing site for truckers and other essential workers in Borden-Carleton. It’ll open at noon on Monday, July 13 and will be open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Education Minister Brad Trivers gave more details to CBC News on how schools will operate in the fall — students will not be required to physically distance in classrooms or on buses, he said, but may have to wear face masks in hallways.

Trivers was also part of an announcement Friday afternoon that federal, provincial and municipal governments will spend about $10 million for a new sports and community complex to replace the aging North Star Arena in North Rustico. The governments say this is the first of several announcements on the way to create jobs and boost the economy in the wake the COVID-19.

The unemployment rate for P.E.I. climbed to 15.2 per cent from 13.9 per cent in May, and more women were unemployed than men, according to Statistics Canada. 

The Education Department is considering adding mobile classrooms at some schools including Montague Consolidated and Eliot River Elementary, since the schools need extra room for spacing due to COVID-19 restrictions. (John Robertson/CBC)

Nurses on P.E.I. said they are are starting to feel the pressure of there not being enough of them to go around, says the president of the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union.

The P.E.I. Humane Society says dog bites are on the rise this year, and believe it’s likely linked to more people staying at home because of the pandemic. 

If you’re having trouble getting a face mask following the Chief Public Health Office’s strengthened recommendation for them, the Rotary Club gave some away free Friday.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison gave an unscheduled briefing Thursday at noon to announce P.E.I. has one more case of COVID-19, a young man who was a close contact of someone from an existing cluster, bringing the active number of cases on P.E.I. to six.

P.E.I. has had a total of 33 COVID-19 cases, with 27 considered recovered.

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