Today is a big day here in Ontario. First, it’s back-to-work day for thousands as the province enters Stage 1 of the COVID-19 recovery. Retail stores, vehicle dealerships and some sports centres are among those who can open their doors, as long as they comply with physical distancing and other safety measures. Construction can also resume today. Premier Ford says the pace of the recovery effort will be determined based on advice from public health experts. Today is also the day parents, students and teachers will find out if kids are going back to school in June or if distance learning will continue for the final 6-weeks of the school year. The Minister of Education will join the Premier for the announcement.
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) May 18, 2020
Ontario reported 304 more cases of COVID-19 yesterday. This brings the provincial total to 22,957. There have been 1,904 deaths related to the virus so far, including 23 that were reported yesterday.
Progress in Quebec :
Quebec is reporting its lowest number of new COVID-19 deaths in more than a month. The province will allow stores and daycares in Montreal to re-open in the coming weeks on schedule as the number of cases stabilizes. Quebec Premier Francois Legault says Quebecers will need to be vigilant about public health recommendations on physical distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask in public. Stores with doors to the outside will be able to open May 25th. Quebec daycares will open June 1st.
Canadian East Coast Numbers:
Canada’s east coast is seeing more signs of improvement in the battle against COVID-19. Nova Scotia health officials announced three new cases of the viral infection, adding that there were no further fatalities to report. Newfoundland and Labrador posted its 11th straight day with no new confirmed cases. New Brunswick reported the same good news — no new cases — but also noted that there are currently no active cases of the virus in the province.
B.C. Begins Phase Two:
Business owners in B.C. are being encouraged to “take it slow” as the province begins the second phase of its restart plan. Provincial health officer, Doctor Bonnie Henry says she understands there will be anxiety when the doors swing open for potentially the first time in several months. She is suggesting that residents remember how they became used to social distancing guidelines at grocery stores. Starting today, a long list of businesses are allowed to reopen, including restaurants, cafes, pubs, retail and personal service establishments.
Trump Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine:
President Donald Trump is drawing criticism from Democratic leaders after saying he has been taking the malaria drug he has touted as a treatment for COVID-19. Trump told reporters Monday that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement daily for a week and a half. Trump’s own government says hydroxychloroquine should only be administered for COVID-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects.
In the global race to find a vaccine for COVID-19, one Massachusetts company says its experimental efforts against the novel coronavirus are showing encouraging results. The potential vaccine was developed by Moderna Incorporated based in Cambridge. Officials note that while it has only been tested on eight people, it has generated an immune response that should be protective. In the next phase, researchers will try to determine which dose is best for a definitive experiment that they aim to start in July.
China Pledges $2 Billion:
China’s President Xi Jinping says his country will provide 2-billion-dollars over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout from it. In a speech to the World Health Assembly, Xi said China had provided all relevant outbreak data to the WHO and other countries, including the virus’s genetic sequence — quote — “in a most timely fashion.” The European Union’s 27-member bloc and other countries, meanwhile, are calling for an independent evaluation of the WHO’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Small Business Have Been Hit Hard:
New survey data released by Facebook yesterday shows how damaging the coronavirus pandemic has been for small businesses in the U.S., with 31% of small business owners reporting they’ve shut down in the last few months. The impact has been “devastating” for small businesses, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement accompanying the survey results, with another 11% of small businesses expecting to permanently close their doors in the next three months, if current lockdown measures persist. At the same time, the survey found 57% of small businesses were “optimistic to extremely optimistic about the future of their businesses,” according to the survey.
America Is Going Back Out Again:
Visits to retail stores and counter service restaurants across the United States are almost back to pre-COVID-19 lockdown levels, new cell phone data shows. The GPS data, compiled by SafeGraph, also shows that visits to bars, shopping malls and sit down restaurants are now slowly increasing after nearly all 50 states eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The patchwork approach to restarting business activity and easing social distancing restrictions comes as the COVID-19 death toll in the US increases to 90,000, with 1.5 million infections.
Walt Disney World is preparing to allow some third-party shops and restaurants to open at its entertainment complex later this week. A warning posted on the website for Disney Springs says, while enhanced safety measures are being taken, there’s “an inherent risk” of exposure to COVID-19 in any public place where people are present. The limited re-openings at Disney Springs Wednesday mark the latest baby steps Orlando’s theme park resorts are taking toward full re-opening.
Priest in Detroit:
Physical distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic may be inspiring creativity. A Roman Catholic priest in the Detroit area has gone viral after photos posted to social media showed him using a squirt gun to shoot holy water at parishioners. The priest is seen wearing a mask, face shield and rubber gloves.
Waterloo Region Numbers:
Waterloo Region now has over 1,000 COVID-19 cases with 22 new ones reported yesterday and 615 now resolved. 87 of the confirmed cases are in Cambridge. There are 105 in Waterloo. There are 762 in Kitchener. There are currently 12 different outbreaks at long term care homes in the Region.
Yesterday Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported 3 more COVID-19 cases. They now have 348 with 199 now resolved and 33-deaths. At the moment 7 are in hospital with 3 in the ICU. 78 are self isolating.
Kitchener Spitter Charged:
Police have laid another pandemic related charge. Friday morning at 9:25am they were called to a grocery store at Frederick St and Lancaster St in Kitchener after receiving reports of a man attempting to spit on staff and customers. The guy fled but police caught the 20-year-old nearby and arrested him for two counts of assault and uttering a threat. They also linked him to a break and enter happened back on April 1.
Guelph Spitter Charged:
Saturday produced another spitter, this time in Guelph at Woolwich & Speedvale. Around 11:30am a 51-year old female customer at a coffee shop became belligerent and abusive towards staff in the drive-thru. After she started to pull away, she slammed on her brakes, nearly causing the vehicle behind to rear-end her. The guy in the car behind honked, so the woman got out and spat in the guy’s face. She was arrested for assault and the victim now has to quarantine for 14-days or under he can get the results of a COVID-19 test.
Infection at a Loblaw Distribution Centre:
An employee at the Loblaw distribution centre in Cambridge has tested positive for COVID-19. He is now at home isolating. Loblaw says contaminated equipment has been removed for deep cleaning and they have thoroughly sanitized aisles and any common areas to protect the well-being of their other warehouse employees.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Global News