All Four Teacher Unions Are Holding A Joint News Conference Today – Full COVID19 Update

Four of Ontario’s major teachers’ unions are to hold a news conference today on the reopening of the province’s schools. The 2pm event comes after the Ontario Labour Relations Board last week dismissed the unions’ complaint, which raised health and safety concerns about the reopening plan. The legal action was filed by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and the French Association. The unions say they will be joined this afternoon by experts who will also weigh in on the reopening plan.

Ontario Numbers:

Yesterday the province had another day with over 500 new coronavirus cases. 548 new cases of COVID19 were confirmed and seven new deaths were announced. Broken down, 201 of those new cases were in Toronto, 90 were in Peel Region and 62 were in Ottawa. The province says it has a backlog of more than 55,000 tests to analyze.

The Ontario Backlog of Test Results:

The Ontario government is turning to third party providers, including a lab in the United States, to help clear a massive backlog of COVID19 tests. The backlog jumped to more than 90,000 last week before testing sites were largely shut down for two days and then reopened by appointment only. Premier Ford says the testing backlog had dropped to just over 55,000 and people are happy about the shift to appointment-only testing. But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the need to send tests to the US shows the province is scrambling to respond to the second wave of the pandemic.

Health Canada Has Approved Another Rapid Test Kit:

Health Canada has approved a new rapid antigen test for COVID19 that can provide results in less than 15-minutes on the spot. Canada has signed a contract with Germany’s Abbott Rapid Diagnostics that will see the company ship 20.5-million of the test devices to Canada. Last week, Health Canada approved another rapid test, called the ID Now kit. Canada is buying 7.9-million of the ID Now tests, which can provide results in as little as 13-minutes.

Mixed Messaging About Public Health Guidelines:

Some experts say mixed messaging about COVID19 rules in Ontario is making it difficult for the public to follow health guidelines. The experts say the difficulty lies largely in the provincial government’s efforts to balance the fight against COVID19 with efforts to jump-start the economy. York University global health professor Steven Hoffman cites rules limiting private social gatherings to 10 people — while up to 100 are allowed in casinos, bars and restaurants. Hoffman also notes Toronto health officials are telling people to stick only to their own households on Thanksgiving while Premier Doug Ford said yesterday that he would have no more than 10 people over. Ford later corrected himself to say he’d celebrate with just his household, which is the latest request from government officials.

Here is Premier Ford’s news conference from yesterday:

Toronto Anti-Masker Charged for Failing to Quarantine:

A couple alleged to have attended an anti-mask rally in Toronto last weekend after returning from a trip abroad have been charged with failing to comply with quarantine rules. Toronto police say 37-year-old Christopher Saccoccia and his 34-year-old wife Jennifer were required to self isolate for 14 days after flying back home on September 20th. But police say Christopher Saccoccia was ticketed for failing to quarantine after he was seen in the Yonge-Dundas area six days later. He and his wife were both served with appearance notices after police say they went to an anti-mask rally in the same area on Saturday.

New Poll on Halloween and Thanksgiving:

A new poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, finds we are divided about how to proceed with Halloween. 52% of parents who let their kids trick or treat last year say they will not this year. 48% say they will let the kids go out. This survey is skewed regionally. About two-thirds of respondents in Atlantic Canada said they will let their kids go out. In Ontario and Quebec, two-thirds said they won’t. The poll also found that 49% of Canadians aren’t planning to open their door to hand out candy this year.  The same poll asked about plans for Thanksgiving. 40% said they will not change their usual routine while another 40% said they won’t be following their usual tradition. 20% said they don’t do much on Thanksgiving anyway.

The Health Minister Wants You to do Thanksgiving Virtually This Year:

Health Minister Patty Hajdu is recommending Canadians hold virtual Thanksgiving celebrations this year, as COVID19 cases rise. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says even outdoor gatherings can pose a risk, as meeting outside can create a false sense of security.

Health Officials Weighing Their Options for Flu Shots:

The COVID19 pandemic has forced physicians to be creative in terms of vaccinations, with doctors and pharmacies moving their flu shot clinics outdoors to serve as many people as possible while observing public health guidelines. Health officials say it is vitally important to get the flu shot this year to avoid overloading the health-care system with a “twindemic” of both influenza and COVID19 outbreaks. Residents in parts of Eastern Canada have already begun receiving the vaccine through events including parking lot clinics.

COVID and Alcohol:

Addiction and business experts say the restaurant industry needs to move away from its dependency on alcohol sales and the COVID19 pandemic provides an opportunity to do just that. Doctor Rupi Brar, an addiction medicine specialist, says pushback over BC’s COVID19 restrictions that cut off alcohol sales at 10pm has highlighted the hospitality industry’s reliance on booze a money maker. Restaurants Canada VP for the western region, Mark von Schellwitz, says restaurants are selling meal kits with fresh ingredients, increasing home delivery, including alcohol sales with takeout orders.

Quebec Has Another Day of Record High Infections:

Health authorities in Quebec reported a record number of new COVID19 cases for the second day in a row yesterday. There were 1,364 new confirmed cases of COVID19 in the province. That brings the total number of cases in Quebec to over 81,000. Montreal and the Monteregie region south of the city account for nearly half of the new infections.

The Atlantic Bubble Remains Intact:

Nova Scotia’s premier says the Atlantic bubble won’t re-open to the rest of Canada any time soon, given the resurgence of COVID19 cases in provinces such as Quebec and Ontario. Stephen McNeil wouldn’t be specific about a timeline during a briefing yesterday. He says he is concerned by large outbreaks of the virus in other parts of the country. McNeil also announced his province would ramp up its capacity to test people with symptoms as quickly as possible.

Manitoba Throne Speech:

The Manitoba government says it will lay out its plans for the coming year in its annual throne speech at the legislature this afternoon. Opposition stalling tactics and COVID19 halted the spring sitting. Likely to be included in the speech are plans for an expansion of paid sick leave for people affected by the pandemic and welfare reform. The latter promise coming after officials said that they would look to find ways to reduce people’s dependence on the program in the spring.

COVID and the Canadian Armed Forces:

The Canadian Armed Forces shared the scope of its COVID19 infections with the public Tuesday for the first time since March 20th. At that time, there were three cases of COVID19. The military now says a total of 222 Canadian service members have contracted the virus since the pandemic began. This includes 24 active cases. The disclosure comes as the military gets ready for new calls to help out during the second wave of the COVID19 pandemic in this country.

COVID Now is in the Pentagon As Well:

The pandemic has reached the highest levels of the Pentagon as well as the White House.  Sources tell CNN that most of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in quarantine because Adm. Charles Ray, vice commandant of the US Coast Guard, tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday. The sources say senior military leaders who were near Ray in meetings in recent days—including some in a secure space for classified information known as the “tank“—are awaiting test results.

Trumps Ends Negotiations Over Stimulus:

President Trump has ended negotiations with Democrats over additional COVID19 relief. He is delaying action until after the election despite ominous warnings from his own Federal Reserve chairman about the deteriorating conditions in the economy. Trump tweets that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is, “not negotiating in good faith.”

COVID Vaccine Requirements:

The US Food and Drug Administration has released its updated safety standards for developers of COVID19 vaccines. This comes after the White House previously blocked their formal release. Yesterday’s move follows a multi-week tug-of-war between Trump officials and government scientists over the review and timeline for upcoming vaccines. The FDA guidelines make clear that companies must provide two months of safety data from participants before seeking emergency approval from the agency.

NFL COVID Fines:

The NFL has fined several Las Vegas Raiders players after it was revealed they failed to follow league and local health guidelines by going maskless at a recent charity event; and now commissioner Roger Goodell is threatening teams with potential forfeits for COVID19 protocol violations.   In a memo sent to the teams Monday after a conference call involving NFL and club executives, Goodell reiterated the need to adhere fully to all of the league’s health and safety guidelines.

Waterloo Region School Infections:

A fifth student at Huron Heights Secondary School in Kitchener has tested positive for COVID19.  The board says the student was last in the building Sept. 22, and public health has not identified any high-risk contacts.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

19 new COVID19 infections were announced yesterday by Region of Waterloo Public Health.  There have now been over 1,800 infections in the Region since the pandemic was declared back in March. Active cases in the Region are now up to 129, and there are still two people receiving treatment for COVID19 in area hospital. In wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, only 1 new case was announced yesterday. There are now 48 active cases in the Region with zero people in hospital.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CTV via YouTube screenshot

 

 

 

Posted in COVID19, News
Scott Fox and Kat Callaghan