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.
9:24 p.m.: The Durham Region Health Department is urging people who attended two more Oshawa basketball tournaments to get tested for COVID-19.
Last week, the health department urged anyone who attended a tournament at the Playground Global facility, 1313 Boundary Rd. in Oshawa, between Aug. 3 to 8 to get tested after more than 20 people reported testing positive for COVID-19.
Now, people who showed up for tournaments at the same facility between Aug. 13 and 15 and between Aug. 20 to 23 are also urged to get tested.
The health department has been notified of three cases of COVID-19 linked to the Canadian Youth Basketball League (CYBL) tournament that began on Aug. 13 and the cases are from Durham and Peel. In this case, people are urged to get tested if they currently or recently had symptoms of COVID-19.
8:28 p.m. B.C. is prepared to give out COVID-19 booster shots should they be required and recommended by Health Canada, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.
He said the COVID-19 booster shot is something health officials have been “preparing now for some time” both within and beyond the long-term care sector, and for those who are immunocompromised.
“So, we’re looking at that,” he told a news conference.
More than 76 per cent of those eligible are fully vaccinated in B.C., while about 84 per cent have received their first dose of the COVID-19 shot, the government said in a news release.
The province recorded 1,853 new cases of COVID-19 over the three-day period that began Friday. The province said Monday there were 5,918 active cases across B.C., with Interior Health reporting the highest number of cases at 707.
That three-day period also saw seven COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,814.
Fraser Health said it has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Chilliwack General Hospital after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit. Three patients have tested positive in the outbreak that’s limited to one unit, which has been temporarily closed to new admissions, the health authority said.
The emergency department remains open and no other areas have been affected at the hospital, where enhanced cleaning and contact tracing are in place, it said.
The Northern Health authority also announced a new COVID-19 outbreak at the in-patient unit of the Fort St. John Hospital over the weekend. Three patients and two staff have tested positive for the illness and infection control measures are in place, including enhanced monitoring for symptoms, it said.
An outbreak continued at White Rock’s Peace Arch Hospital, along with 13 outbreaks in assisted-living and long-term care homes when the province last issued an update on the virus.
Last week, Health Canada said in a statement that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization continues to review evidence on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines booster shots in those who are immunosuppressed. The committee was expected to update its recommendations in the coming weeks, it said.
“Current data to date shows most people have good immunity that is sustained for at least six months after receiving their second dose, however it is not yet clear how long immunity lasts nor known whether and when additional shots are required to sustain immunity for Canadians.”
7:27 p.m. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his government will support local businesses and workplaces that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, but won’t mandate vaccine passports.
At a news conference Monday, Moe called government-mandated vaccine policies a “heavy-handed” approach and said working collaboratively with those who choose to enact these policies would be successful.
Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba are the only provinces to announce provincewide vaccine passport systems.
Moe said his government is already working with organizations, such as the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team, to “work out the logistics” of such programs.
“We will do the same with any other teams, leagues, concerts… or large event venues that do choose to move in this direction. We will also support any employers that choose to move in this direction,” said Moe, who noted the province is creating a digital QR code that can be used by businesses or venues.
Other large organizations that have introduced vaccine policies are the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Regina.
Moe’s comments come days after some of the province’s leading doctors — including Cory Neudorf, an interim senior medical health officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority — called on the government to introduce measures such as mandated masking and vaccine passports for a variety of settings.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. We may have won the battle of the third wave and had some respite over the summer, but the war is not yet won,” read a letter that was posted on social media.
“Another push is necessary and ignoring it will not make it go away.”
Moe said the Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Authority will, in the coming days, outline a policy to require front-line health workers to provide proof of vaccination.
If employees choose not to receive both doses, he said they would be subject to regular COVID-19 testing.
7:12 p.m. The U.S. State Department is now urging Americans to “reconsider travel” to Canada due to what the Centers for Disease Control call “high” levels of COVID-19 infection.
The new Level 3 travel advisory, issued today, marks a quick end to a three-week period when the warning to would-be travellers to Canada had been eased to “exercise increased caution.”
That Level 2 advisory coincided with Canada’s decision to allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents back into the country.
There was no specific reason given for the revised advisory beyond the CDC’s notice, also issued today, which pegs Canada’s current COVID-19 levels at “high.”
Only about 61 per cent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, compared with nearly 75 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12.
The U.S. is maintaining its existing restrictions on non-essential Canadian travellers until at least Sept. 21, citing the ongoing spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
6:08 p.m. Workers employed by private contractors that provide housekeeping and food services at acute health-care facilities in British Columbia will have their employment returned to provincial health authorities.
The provincial government says it will serve notice starting this fall under the terms of 21 commercial contracts of its intention to start returning the workers’ employment to the health authorities.
It says the phased-in approach to its decision will affect about 4,000 workers.
The province says it is working with the Hospital Employees’ Union, health authorities and contractors on its plan.
Premier John Horgan says in a statement the decision to contract out the work almost 20 years ago has led to lower wages and less job security, particularly for women.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says the move will benefit workers and help in recruitment.
“It treats those who do the essential and life-saving work of keeping our hospitals and facilities clean and ensuring the nutrition of our patients with fairness and dignity,” he said in a news release.
Horgan says the decision also puts workers who have been employed by private companies on an even footing with public health-care workers.
“Nearly 20 years later, we are still living with the aftermath of those choices, with workers paid less to do the same work as their colleagues in the public system,” he said. “It’s time to put a stop to it.”
4:54 p.m. B.C.’s Fraser Health says it has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Chilliwack General Hospital after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit.
The health authority says three patients have so far tested positive in the outbreak that’s limited to one unit, which has been temporarily closed to new admissions.
It says the emergency department remains open and no other areas have been affected at the hospital, where enhanced cleaning and contact tracing are in place.
The Northern Health authority also announced a new COVID-19 outbreak at the inpatient unit of the Fort St. John Hospital over the weekend.
It says three patients and two staff have tested positive for the illness and infection control measures are in place, including enhanced monitoring for symptoms.
An outbreak continued at White Rock’s Peace Arch Hospital, along with 13 outbreaks in assisted-living and long-term care homes when the province last issued an update on the virus.
The B.C. government was expected to provide the latest COVID-19 data covering the past three days later today.
4:37 p.m. Health officials in New Brunswick say 75 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and more than 84 per cent has received at least one dose.
Officials say about 6,000 doses of vaccine were administered in the last three days and vaccination rates are up across the province, especially in younger age groups.
They say three people are in hospital with the disease.
Chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said today in a news release the high vaccination rate is to thank for the small number of people in hospital with COVID-19.
Russell says that since July 1, 90 per cent of new COVID-19 cases involved people who were not fully vaccinated.
Officials are reporting a three-day total of 39 new infections. New Brunswick has 160 active reported cases.
4:21 p.m. Toronto’s public transit system says it’s going to increase service in time for the new school year.
The Toronto Transit Commission says it will have 25 per cent more subway trains running on its Line 1 and Line 2 at peak times on weekdays.
The TTC says it’s communicating with school boards to determine hot spots, student volumes, and start and dismissal times.
It also says it’s increasing or restoring service on nearly 30 bus routes that serve post-secondary institutions and other major transit corridors.
The TTC says it will also restore service on nearly all 900-series express routes.
Additional express routes are planned for October.
4:20 p.m. The chairman of Alberta’s United Conservative caucus is denying he said he wanted more unvaccinated people to catch COVID-19 so the province could attain herd immunity.
Nathan Neudorf says he wants cases to go down and that getting more people vaccinated is the best way to achieve that.
On Friday, Neudorf, the legislature member for Lethbridge-East, told a local news program he hoped Alberta would see a rise in COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated.
He told the program that having infections sweep through unprotected people could result in herd immunity — leaving the virus with no one else to infect and thereby causing cases to fall.
Alberta has well over one million unvaccinated residents, including 660,000 children under 12, who are not eligible to get shots.
Opposition NDP critic Shannon Phillips calls Neudorf’s remarks “odious” and urged him to apologize and resign as caucus chairman.
3:34 p.m. The national union representing RCMP officers says it’s concerned about recent statements by British Columbia’s premier regarding police enforcement of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine card system set to take effect Sept. 13.
In response to B.C. businesses expressing concern for staff who may encounter would-be patrons who refuse to show the requisite proof of immunization, Premier John Horgan said recently they could call law enforcement to handle the situation.
But Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, says Mounties in B.C. are being called on to do more and more, and they cannot continue to effectively respond to rising calls without additional officers, resources and funding.
He says in a statement that more than 650 members of the provincial RCMP have been deployed in response to wildfires, pulling them away from day-to-day roles.
Sauvé says others have been involved in the ongoing enforcement of a court injunction against old-growth logging protests on southern Vancouver Island.
The provincial government could not immediately be reached for comment.
The province’s COVID-19 vaccine card program is set to launch in two weeks, starting with proof of at least one dose by Sept. 13 and two doses by Oct. 24 in order for people to access a range of indoor social and recreational events.
Sauvé said it’s “critically important that government properly fund both local and provincial policing to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of British Columbians.”
3:30 p.m. Because neither the federal or Ontario provincial government have created vaccine passports for the public yet (while other provinces have started plans of their own), live event businesses and franchises are taking matters into their own hands to create new rules for customers.
The Star’s Adrian Cheung speaks with Star business reporter Josh Rubin for the latest episode of This Matters.
Listen here: Want to be at a live event again? Vaccine mandates are being pushed by businesses
3:19 p.m. (Updated) Quebec’s Health Department is recommending a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people who are immunocompromised or on dialysis.
The department said today its recommendation is based on advice from the province’s immunization committee.
Anyone who qualifies for a third dose is able to get one immediately at any walk-in vaccination clinic across the province.
The department says the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines are preferable as third doses compared to the other vaccines approved for use in Canada against COVID-19.
Quebec is not recommending a third dose for long-term care patients.
The Health Department says long-term patients don’t need another shot because many residents have recently received a second dose and because of the low levels of circulation of the novel coronavirus within the long-term network.
2:39 p.m. Ontario has trimmed down the COVID-19 symptoms that would require children to stay home from school or daycare, dropping runny noses and headaches from the list.
The province’s updated online screening tool lists five categories of symptoms “most commonly associated with COVID-19.”
Those are fever and chills, cough or barking cough, shortness of breath, losing taste or smell and nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Children reporting any of those symptoms are to stay home, isolate and seek COVID-19 testing.
A spokeswoman for the health minister confirmed that a runny nose, sore throat or difficulty swallowing, congested nose, headache, and extreme tiredness or muscle aches were removed from the screening tool.
Some symptoms were also removed for people over age 18 taking the questionnaire. Removed symptoms for that age group include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, runny nose, sore throat, congestion, headache, stomach pain, pink eye and falling down often.
Spokewoman Alexandra Hilkene said health units can give further advice on isolation requirements based on things like the local COVID-19 situation and whether an individual was in contact with a confirmed case.
People can also attend school if an individual or someone in the household started experiencing mild virus symptoms like a headache, fatigue, muscle aches or joint pain within 48 hours of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
The province’s top doctor indicated earlier this month that the screening list for schools and daycares was to be narrowed after hearing from parents about disruption created by associated testing, and finding fewer cases in those with mild symptoms.
“We did a lot of testing for very mild symptoms like runny nose and we found that we didn’t get a lot of positives at our population level,” Dr. Kieran Moore told an Aug. 3 news conference.
“The symptom list is smaller, so the requirement for testing should be fewer, and hopefully a percentage of tests that are positive would be higher, so less impact on families, less need to go get tested.”
Screening guidelines for Ontario schools have been revised several times during the pandemic.
Virus testing sites reported long lines when schools opened last fall with strict screening requirements as the province saw a rise in cases.
The latest change in screening guidelines comes days before the start of the new school year.
2:27 p.m. The Manitoba government says COVID-19 vaccination cards and QR digital bar codes are now available to people even if they don’t have a provincial health card.
Individuals will have to have had two doses — in any combination — of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson.
Their last shot will have to have been at least two weeks before the request.
Manitobans vaccinated outside the province will need to provide proof to public health and the data must be recorded.
A public health order starting Friday will require people to be double vaccinated to attend sporting events and concerts, indoor theatre and dance performances, restaurants, nightclubs, movie theatres and casinos.
Public health officials say vaccine appointments have increased since the measure was announced last week.
There are 34 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba and 25 of those are in individuals not fully vaccinated.
There are 503 active cases with 65 people hospitalized.
2:22 p.m. (Updated) Nova Scotia is reporting 31 new COVID-19 cases since the weekend as well as 15 new recoveries.
Health officials say 26 of the new cases have been identified in the central zone of the province, which includes Halifax, of which 14 are travel-related.
Eight of the cases in the central zone are close contacts of previously reported cases while the remaining four are under investigation.
Three cases are being reported in the northern zone and two in the western zone.
Nova Scotia deputy chief medical officer of health Dr. Shelley Deeks says officials expected to see an increase in case numbers as seen in other provinces, but residents need to continue adhering to the public health measures.
The province now has 71 active cases of the disease and no hospitalizations.
2 p.m. Most children admitted to intensive care with a serious inflammatory complication after getting COVID-19 didn’t have serious lingering issues a year later, according to a study of data collected from hospitals across the U.K.
As the highly contagious Delta variant sweeps across the world, doctors say they are worried about its effect on children, especially those who are unvaccinated. In some parts of the U.S., more children have been hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment recently than at any time in the pandemic since U.S. authorities began tracking the data last year.
The U.K. study tracked the health of children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, a rare condition that can occur in children several weeks after COVID-19 infection. It can involve many different organ systems and lead to issues with the heart, including aneurysms in the coronary arteries, arrhythmias and problems with heart function.
Without the proper diagnosis and management, which often involves the use of intravenous immune globulin or corticosteroids, MIS-C can lead to organ damage or even death. More than 4,400 cases of MIS-C were reported among children in the U.S. during the pandemic as of the end of July, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most children seemed to recover from MIS-C without any serious long-term problems, according to researchers in the U.K. who collected data on 68 patients under the age of 18 admitted to intensive-care units with MIS-C before May 10, 2020.
The study tracked follow-up visits up to April of this year. None of the children died, they said, and only two patients were readmitted to a hospital’s intensive-care unit at some point.
1:50 p.m. Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting nine new cases of COVID-19 since their last report.
Officials said today in a news release seven new cases form a cluster in the western health region, the source of which is under investigation.
They say the eastern and central zones each have one new case.
Officials say because a “good portion” of the province has been vaccinated against COVID-19, each person identified as a close contact of a case will be given specific isolation instructions that depend on their vaccination status.
The province is also reporting two new recoveries from the disease.
Newfoundland and Labrador has 21 active reported infections and no one in hospital for COVID-19 illness.
1:15 p.m. The Education Department announced Monday that it’s investigating five Republican-led states that have banned mask requirements in schools, saying the policies could amount to discrimination against students with disabilities or health conditions.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights sent letters to education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Those states have barred schools from requiring masks among all students and staff, a move that the department says could prevent some students from safely attending school.
“It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “The department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely.”
Read the full story: Five U.S. state mask bans face federal civil rights inquiries
1:20 p.m. The TTC is increasing service for the back-to-school season.
“We are doing everything we can as a City government to help kids go back to school safely this September and that includes increasing TTC service across Toronto ahead of expected demand,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a release. “I want to thank our frontline TTC workers for all they do to help students get to and from school safely.”
“As students and parents prepare for the back-to-school season, they can rely on the TTC to provide a safe and reliable experience,” said TTC Chair Jaye Robinson. “We ask that students continue to follow COVID safety guidelines, including wearing a mask while on transit.”
1:10 p.m. Seven of Connecticut’s eight counties now qualify as having “high” COVID-19 transmission as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after Tolland County joined the list Sunday evening.
Hartford, New Haven, Fairfield, New London, Middlesex, Litchfield and Tolland counties are all classified as “high” transmission, while Windham County is just short of that threshold. Residents of all eight counties are advised to wear masks in public, indoor spaces, according to CDC guidelines.
With COVID-19 surging nationwide, all but a handful of U.S. counties are currently above the high transmission threshold.
Though Connecticut has fewer COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations per capita than most states, its numbers remain at or near their highest levels since the spring. As of Friday, Connecticut’s seven-day positivity rate stood at 3.55 per cent, and the state had 378 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
1 p.m. Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has certified a class-action lawsuit against fourteen insurance companies that denied business interruption claims related to COVID-19.
The class action, launched by several small businesses including a suit store, a smoothie shop and a dance studio, claims businesses across Canada suffered billions of dollars in losses after they were forced to close because of the pandemic.
According to court filings, the insurance companies have denied business interruption claims in part because the coverage requires physical loss or damage to the property, which they argue the presence of a virus on the property and government orders restricting operations don’t count towards.
The class action certified on Aug. 20 by Justice Edward Belobaba against the group of insurers that include the Co-operators General Insurance Company and Intact Insurance is separate from other class action lawsuits certified last month against the Canadian subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc.
Aviva, which faces class action lawsuits brought by a windows company, a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion and a denturist, has been singled out because it offers more coverage related to situations like the pandemic than the other 14 insurers being sued.
According to court filings, unlike the others it specifically offers coverage for business income loss caused by restricted access to the property because of government orders related to an outbreak of a contagious or infectious disease. The company says the policy doesn’t cover provincewide shutdown orders.
12:42 p.m. After a surge in bookings early this summer, U.S. airline passengers are planning fewer trips as the spread of the coronavirus Delta variant continues to discourage travel.
Spending for the Labor Day holiday was down 16 per cent from 2019 as of Aug. 21, while bookings were off 15 per cent, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index. The weekend typically marks the end of stepped-up summer travel for U.S. carriers and demand often rises as families seek to squeeze in a last trip before school resumes.
Adobe’s findings line up with recent warnings from airlines that increased illnesses tied to the variant are slowing sales and prompting customers to cancel reservations, threatening to derail a recovery from last year’s collapse in demand. Southwest Airlines Co. has said the weakness may make it difficult to turn a third-quarter profit. American Airlines Group Inc. said August revenue is coming in below its expectations.
“We expect spend in the month of August to be significantly under July,” Vivek Pandya, Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst, said in a statement Monday. “These two months historically have similar spend levels.”
Online spending for flights dropped to $2.9 billion through the first three weeks of this month, down 33 per cent from the same period in 2019. That was about double the change for July. The number of bookings fell 22 per cent from the beginning of August. The index tracks direct flight bookings for 6 of the top 10 U.S. carriers.
12 p.m. Quebec is reporting 386 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and no further deaths attributed to the coronavirus.
Health officials say hospitalizations declined by one to 125 patients and 37 people were listed in intensive care, an increase of one.
Health Minister Christian Dubé says in a tweet while the numbers may seem encouraging at first glance, authorities will continue to monitor the situation as the school year resumes and summer holidays end.
There are 4,405 known active cases in the province.
The province says it administered another 19,602 vaccine doses in the past 24 hours.
Officials say 86.9 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose, while 80.3 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.
11:45 a.m. A top-ranking Roman Catholic cardinal who eschewed the COVID-19 vaccine said he will soon begin rehabilitation after contracting the coronavirus and spending days on a ventilator.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, 73, one of the church’s most outspoken conservatives and a vaccine skeptic, tweeted Aug. 10 that he had contracted the virus. He was sedated and placed on a ventilator at an undisclosed hospital. His staff tweeted Aug. 21 that he had been taken off the ventilator and transferred out of intensive care to a regular room.
Burke tweeted a letter Saturday in which he thanked God for bringing him “to this point of healing and recovery.” He said he remains in the hospital and can’t respond to individual well-wishers because he’s about to begin “intensive rehabilitation” and will be going through an “extended period of convalescence.”
“In your charity, I know you will understand this circumstance and accept that I must preserve my energy so that I can recover my health and strength,” Burke wrote. “Since Divine Providence has governed that I remain hospitalized for the present, I now reaffirm that same episcopal conviction: suffering, united with the suffering of Jesus Christ, is truly efficacious in His Divine Plan for our salvation when accepted willingly and wholeheartedly.”
11:35 a.m. Ontario is reporting another 694 COVID-19 cases and no new deaths, according to its latest report released Monday morning.
Ontario has administered 17,767 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 20,726,778 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.
According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 10,803,172 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 82.9 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 72.7 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The province says 9,923,606 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 76.1 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 66.8 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.
Read the full story from the Star’s Urbi Khan
11:20 a.m. A subset of COVID-19 patients who received infusions of laboratory-made antibodies ran a lower risk of requiring hospital care for their illnesses, according to a Mayo Clinic study released Monday.
The report in the journal Lancet EClinical Medicine suggests that certain monoclonal antibody treatments can help patients with mild to moderate symptoms who are at high-risk of serious COVID-19 illness due to other health conditions.
Mayo Clinic was the first health system in Minnesota last year to offer certain COVID-19 patients the antibody infusions, which must be given shortly after patients get sick. Former President Donald Trump received an early version of the treatment when he took ill with the pandemic virus last year.
“These are excellent results with reductions in hospitalizations,” Dr. Raymund Razonable, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist and senior author of the study, said in an interview. “Among [high-risk] patients who develop COVID, they should seek this treatment as early as possible in order to prevent the disease from progressing to serious illness.”
While the treatment is promising, patients shouldn’t view monoclonal antibodies as an alternative to vaccines, Razonable said.
“Monoclonal antibodies provide immediate but short-term immunity, while vaccination will provide longer-term immunity,” he said in a statement.
11:10 a.m. Albania’s health authorities reinstalled new tough restrictive measures and warned of a possible obligatory vaccine shot for some categories in their effort to prevent a further spread of the new Delta virus variant.
Health minister Ogerta Manastirliu said that “soon we shall start the application to passing over to a new stage of the vaccination campaign, making obligatory the vaccines for some categories on behalf of the right of the other people not to get infected.”
Albania has noted a significant rise of the daily cases this month to more than 900 from about 100 times less a month ago.
August and September have been open months for vaccines for everyone over 18 years old.
There were two deaths and 768 new cases on Sunday and about half of Albania’s 2.8 million population has had at least one shot of the vaccine.
10:40 a.m. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge in North Carolina, the coronavirus and other respiratory diseases are causing sick children to fill up pediatric intensive care units in the Triangle.
Among the three PICUs in the Triangle — WakeMed Children’s Hospital in Raleigh, Duke University Hospital in Durham and the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill— WakeMed and UNC were full on Friday, and Duke had just one of 32 beds available. UNC has 20 beds and WakeMed has 10.
Capacity numbers change day to day, hospital officials said.
Dr. Benny Joyner, division chief of pediatric critical care medicine at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, told The News & Observer that they are no longer taking transfers from outside UNC into the PICU.
“It is exhausting to have seen what potential we would have had with the introduction of the vaccine, with careful masking,” Joyner said. “And this, to be put in a position again where we’re having to say to outside referring hospitals, ‘We cannot take your child with a new cancer diagnosis, a new trauma’ — that’s a hard thing.”
The rise in children needing intensive care is partly due to the delta variant, a mutation of the virus that’s more than three times as contagious as the original strain. Almost 94 per cent of sequenced virus in North Carolina is Delta, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
10:20 a.m. Ontario is reporting 694 new cases of COVID-19, 0 deaths Monday; 527 cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 167 are in fully vaccinated individuals. In Ontario, 20,726,778 vaccine doses have been administered. Nearly 82.9 per cent of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 76.1 per cent have two doses, according to a tweet from Health Minister Christine Elliott.
The seven-day average is up to 696 cases per day or 33.5 weekly per 100,000 and flat at 6.4 deaths per day. Labs are reporting 18,561 completed tests and a 3.6 per cent positive, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb.
Ontario administered 17,767 vaccine doses Sunday, fewest on any day since March 1. 6,075 were first doses and 11,692 were second. Ontario is averaging 34,000 doses per day.
10 a.m. A conservative Florida radio host who was dead-set against taking a coronavirus vaccine has died.
Marc Bernier died Saturday of COVID-19 after a three-week battle, his bereft radio station announced. He was 65.
“It’s with great sadness that WNDB and Southern Stone Communications announce the passing of Marc Bernier, who informed and entertained listeners on WNDB for over 30 years,” WNDB radio’s News Daytona Beach announced Saturday. “We kindly ask that privacy is given to Marc’s family during this time of grief.”
Bernier had been afflicted three weeks earlier after hosting radio talk shows in Daytona Beach for 30 years, and after dubbing himself “Mr. Anti-Vax.” He also said the U.S. government was “acting like Nazis” for insisting people get the shot.
That airtime included a morning comment, three-hour afternoon show, and weekend shows and specials. Longtime radio show guest and Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood was gutted after learning that the host had died sometime after 6 p.m. on Saturday.
9:45 a.m. 4,556,066 vaccine doses have been administered to date in the City of Toronto.
9 a.m. The Edmonton Elks say they have gone three-straight days without recording a new positive COVID-19 test.
The news comes a week after Edmonton’s game against the Toronto Argonauts, initially scheduled for Aug. 26, was postponed.
The Elks said in a release Sunday that the number of confirmed positive cases among the team has dropped to 13 after a player was deemed to be a false positive.
The team says the player’s initial test on Aug. 24 was positive, but three subsequent PCR test results all came back negative.
All players and coaches will remain at home in isolation through Tuesday, and will continue to receive daily tests.
The Elks (1-2) plan to return to their facilities at Commonwealth Stadium on Wednesday ahead of their next game against the Stampeders in Calgary on Sept. 6.
8:42 a.m. Elementary and secondary school classes begin in just over a week, and with over 80 per cent of students at the Peel District School Board returning to in-person learning, updates have been provided on ventilation at the schools.
On Aug. 25, the PDSB held a board meeting and summarized the ventilation improvements made to date since June 2020.
The board said they’re working closely with the Ministry of Education and utilizing all available provincial and federal funding to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The funding used comes from the Ministry of Education’s Optimizing Air Quality funding for 2020–21 with approximately $5.9 million, with additional funds of $417,000 made available in August 2021.
8:10 a.m. Premier Doug Ford is reversing course and bringing a COVID-19 vaccination passport system to Ontario in hopes of avoiding another round of restrictions and lockdowns as new cases continue to rise, the Star has learned.
“The guidance will be clear. In order to access some non-essential services and events you will have to be vaccinated,” a senior government source said Friday.
The passports are expected to be used for indoor restaurant dining, gyms, theatres, concert venues and sporting events.
No specific date has been set for the system to go into effect, but the goal is to have it ready “within weeks,” added the source, speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations.
Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson
8:05 a.m. Amid slowing demand for the shot, authorities in Berlin, Germany offered a special train service Monday for anyone interested in getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The service operated on a circular commuter line that runs around the center of the German capital for two hours.
Officials invited anyone aged 18 or older to step aboard and receive a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Health authorities are trying to make it easier for people to get the shot, as the pace of vaccination has declined noticeably in recent months. Slightly more than 60% of the German population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while infection rates are rising strongly again.
The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has more than doubled over the past two weeks from almost 5.2 new cases per 100,000 people on Aug. 15 to nearly 11 on Aug. 29.
7:55 a.m. Thousands of vaccine opponents took to the streets in two Greek cities on Sunday to demonstrate against the government’s coronavirus policies.
Local media outlets estimated that 3,000 people took part in Athens, and more than 5,000 in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
Some 200 people broke away from the demonstration in Athens after dark, when it was nearly over, and hurled incendiary devices and stones at police outside the parliament. Officers responded with stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon, causing the rioters to disperse.
By law, only vaccinated people are allowed inside restaurants and cultural institutions. Unvaccinated employees in the health sector are to be released from their work starting from Sept. 1 and — as long as they are not vaccinated — will not be paid. This policy has been in place for people who work in elderly care since Aug. 16.
The number of new coronavirus infections in Greece has skyrocketed in recent weeks, mainly because of the holiday season. In large parts of Crete and other islands in the south of the Aegean Sea, a nighttime curfew between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. has already been in force for days.
7:45 a.m. A third COVID-19 vaccination shot appeared to significantly curb a Delta-led surge in cases and prevent severe illness, according to a study in Israel, the first country to offer boosters to seniors.
Twelve days or more after a booster dose of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, the risk of a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection decreased 11.4-fold relative to people given only two jabs, researchers from Israel’s Ministry of Health and key scientific institutes found. A third dose was associated with at least a tenfold reduction in the risk of falling seriously ill, according to the research released Friday.
The more-infectious Delta variant has fueled a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many countries, including Israel, prompting plans to administer extra doses to those already immunized. Israeli authorities approved a Pfizer-BioNTech booster jab for vulnerable citizens on July 12 and began offering it on July 30 to all people 60 or older who had been immunized for at least five months.
“The results of such a policy are of importance for countries that seek strategies to mitigate the pandemic,” said Yinon M. Bar-On from the Weizmann Institute of Science and colleagues in the paper. “Our findings give clear indications of the effectiveness of a booster dose even against the currently dominant delta variant.”
The analysis is based on medical findings from the health ministry database extracted on Aug. 24. The researchers chose 12 days as the time it took the booster to curb confirmed infections.
7:30 a.m. As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Hawaii continues to rise, Gov. David Ige is calling on all residents and visitors to delay all nonessential travel through the end of October 2021.
According to Reuters.com, Ige revealed expanded restrictions on restaurant capacities and limited access to rental cars, informing potential travelers that visiting the tropical paradise now would not provide the typical Hawaii vacation experience.
“Our hospitals are reaching capacity and our ICUs are filling up,” Ige said at an Aug. 23 media briefing. “Now is not a good time to travel to Hawaii.”
“It will take six to seven weeks to see significant change in the number of COVID cases,” Ige continued. “It is a risky time to be traveling right now. Everyone, residents and visitors alike, should reduce travel to essential business activities only.”
The governor also voiced his support for Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, who recently announced that indoor gatherings in the city would be limited to just 10 people, while outdoor events would be limited to 25.
5:55 a.m.: The daily average for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the United States is now more than 100,000. That average, calculated over the past seven days, is higher than in any previous surge except last winter’s, before most Americans were eligible to get vaccinated.
The influx of patients is straining hospitals and pushing health care workers to the brink as deaths have risen to an average of more than 1,000 a day for the first time since March.
Hospitalizations nationwide have increased by nearly 500% in the past two months, particularly across Southern states, where intensive care unit beds are filling up, a crisis fueled by some of the country’s lowest vaccination rates and widespread political opposition to public health measures like mask requirements.
With the surge pummeling the nation and overwhelming hospitals, a shortage of bedside nurses has complicated efforts to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients, leading to longer emergency room waiting times and rushed or inadequate care.
5:45 a.m.: Lilia Spagnuolo is excited that her daughter, Marianna, will finally be back in the classroom with her friends to start Grade 1 in a couple of weeks.
The six-year-old is “fantastic” about wearing her mask and handwashing, and Spagnuolo says she trusts that the principal at St. André Catholic School, near Jane and Wilson, has their backs when it comes to COVID-19 safety protocols.
But alongside the anticipation is knowledge that the one thing that could best protect her little girl and her classmates from the virus — a vaccine — is out of reach.
Experts say community vaccination rates are one of the most important indicators of COVID transmission risk among unvaccinated kids. Torontonians can expect to see more school outbreaks in neighbourhoods with lower vaccination coverage and fewer in areas where most of the residents have been fully vaccinated.
In a pattern that mirrors the spread of the virus to vulnerable and racialized communities seen at the beginning of the pandemic, mapping of neighbourhood vaccination rates by the Star reveals similar disparities. Vaccination rates among the general population remain lower in the city’s northwest corner, parts of Scarborough and around Thorncliffe Park, and higher in more affluent areas, such as midtown and parts of Etobicoke. For example, M4H, the neighbourhood around Thorncliffe Park public school, has the lowest percentage of residents fully vaccinated, at 51.9 per cent. But in M8X, the Kingsway/Lambton Mills, 74 per cent of the residents have both shots.
Read the full interactive article from the Star.
5:30 a.m.: Malaysia’s new prime minister missed the swearing-in ceremony of his new government on Monday after coming into contact with someone infected with COVID-19, his office said.
Ismail Sabri Yaakob has begun self-isolating and will virtually attend Tuesday’s official National Day celebrations, according to a statement from his office. It did not say whom he came in contact with, whether he was tested and how long he would remain in self-isolation.
Ismail took office Aug. 21 amid public anger over the previous government’s failure to control a raging pandemic. Daily cases have soared above 20,000 since August 5, with total infections surpassing 1.7 million. Vaccinations are moving rapidly, with 62% of the adult population fully inoculated.
His predecessor, Muhyiddin Yassin, resigned on Aug. 16 after less than 18 months in office as infighting in his coalition cost him majority support in Parliament.