Dr Tam Now Recommending Canadians Wear Masks – Full COVID-19 Update

Yesterday Canadians got the recommendation that probably could have saved hundreds of lives if it had been issued sooner. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam is now recommending covering your face when maintaining physical distance is not be possible. This advice is slightly stronger than previous recommendations that people should “consider” wearing a face mask in public. Tam says there has been a social, cultural shift around the wearing of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries have made wearing face masks mandatory in public, but Tam says such a rule wouldn’t work Canada-wide. She says local health officials may choose to make the recommendation for face masks mandatory in their jurisdictions. Even Prime Minister Trudeau says he is now covering his face when he’s out of his home and can’t keep a guaranteed two metres away from others.

Here are Dr. Tam’s remarks from yesterday:

Don’t Judge People Not Wearing Masks:

With the new recommendation for Canadians to wear non-medical masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the country’s chief public health officer is admitting the practice may be dangerous for some and problematic for others. Doctor Theresa Tam is also warning against judging those who can’t wear them — for health or wellness reasons. Asthma Canada says merely wearing a mask could increase the risk of an asthma attack in some people.

Ontario Cases:

Ontario had a small decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases yesterday. There were 390 reported, along with 43 more deaths. More than 18,000 cases are now resolved. Hospitalizations also increased slightly, but the number of people in intensive care and on ventilators decreased.

Ford Angry About the Testing Numbers:

Premier Ford says he’s shocked by the recent drop in COVID-19 tests in the province. Data shows less than 10,000 tests have been processed on each of the past three days. The lag comes at a time when the number of new cases is holding steady and the province is entering the first phase of its economic recovery plan. Ford says the number of tests must increase. Premier Ford is warning that he won’t hesitate to re-impose tougher restrictions if there is a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Here is Premier Ford’s news conference from yesterday:

NDP Agrees with Conservatives – Want Parliament Sitting Again:

Unless the four main parties can reach an agreement, Parliament is scheduled to resume as usual next Monday. The House of Commons has been holding tri-weekly meetings — one in-person and two remotely — since last month, after largely adjourning in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Liberals are proposing to keep the current format, while the Bloc Quebecois is willing to play ball provided improvements are made to a number of existing support programs. But both the NDP and the Conservatives favour a hybrid model of both physical and virtual attendance adopted by lawmakers in the U.K.

Finance Minister on Relief Funding:

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Canadians depend on large companies, and Ottawa’s new COVID-19 loan program for Canada’s largest corporations is there so they can stay open and keep employees on their payrolls. Morneau says the government has taken steps to protect Canadian taxpayers and to make sure they share in any upside that borrowers see in the economic recovery. Companies that receive bridge financing through the program will have to give the government the option to take an ownership stake, or provide a cash equivalent. Recipients would also have to agree to limits on executive compensation, dividend payments and share buy-backs, as well as show they are contributing to the Liberals’ goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Here are the Finance Minister’s remarks:

TTC Now Recommending Masks:

The Toronto Transit Commission is asking riders to wear face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The TTC says it is a simple step that protects others. The messaging is in line with the province and the federal government who say masks should be worn when physical distancing is not possible.

FBI Warning About Zoom Chats:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is issuing a warning about video teleconferencing — something that has taken off during the COVID-19 pandemic and work-from-home restrictions. The FBI’s Gregory Takacs says what started out as simple pranks, dubbed Zoom-bombing, is now shifting to something very dark and ugly. Takacs noted a recent incident involving a Zoom participant who was able to broadcast a video depicting child sexual abuse material during a conversation. He says that example is not an isolated incident.

Diabetics And COVID-19:

Patients with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from coronavirus – and being obese increases the risk even further, research reveals.  A third of deaths from the virus have occurred among individuals with diabetes, which is linked to excess weight and a lack of exercise.  The study by the NHS and Imperial College London also found that those with Type 1 diabetes –which is not linked to obesity – were three and a half times more likely to die.

Cannabis May Be Able to Block the Coronavirus:

A team of Canadian scientists is testing whether or not marijuana compounds can block coronavirus infection.  Researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta looked at 400 cannabis strains and focused on about a dozen that showed promise in preventing the virus from “hijacking” our cells.  They say extracts of cannabidiol (CBD), the main non-psychoactive component of pot, helped lower the number of cell receptors available for coronavirus to attach to by more than 70 percent.  However, the team says people should not rush out and buy cannabis products and that clinical trials are needed to confirm the results.

Wuhan Bans Eating Wild Animals:

The Chinese city of Wuhan has banned the eating of wild animals, a practice believed to have caused the coronavirus pandemic.  The new policy went into effect on May 13 and will stay in place for five years, according to a notice released by the Wuhan government yesterday.  Experts in China said in January that the virus had likely jumped onto humans from wild animals sold as food at a wet market in the city of 11 million.

Indigenous People Say Ottawa is Not Doing Enough:

A Canadian organization representing thousands of Indigenous People who live off-reserve and in urban centres says Ottawa is not coming through for its members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congress of Aboriginal People’s national chief, Robert Bertrand, told a Commons committee last week that the amount of federal aid the C.A.P. has received is a slap in the face. In mid-March, the government created the Indigenous Community Support Fund. Still, only $15 million of the $305-million-dollars was allotted for off-reserve organizations, even though they serve more than half of Canada’s Indigenous population. The federal government says it will introduce additional funding today.

Stats Can Inflation:

Statistics Canada says gasoline prices plunged by 39.3 per cent last month, the largest year-over-year decline on record. Falling energy prices helped push April’s annual inflation rate down 0.2 per cent, slightly more than economist expectations of 0.1 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. However, StatsCan reports prices for other consumer goods were up, particularly for cleaning products, toilet paper and food.

CFL Delays Season:

Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tigercats fans won’t see their teams back on the field for at least three and a half more months. Yesterday the Canadian Football League announced the 2020 season wouldn’t start until September at the earliest. The league commissioner says the format of a shortened season is still under discussion. The CFL also says the Grey Cup game, originally scheduled to take place in Regina, will instead be posted by the team in the finals with the best record. Hamilton is still set to host the final next year.

Restrictions Being Lifted In KW:

Lots more restrictions are being lifted on outdoor spaces in Waterloo Region. Basketball courts, sports fields, skate parks, outdoor furniture like benches & picnic tables, picnic areas and more are all part of the local plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions. Some are already open and the rest will be after a bit of maintenance. Officials are reminding everyone that while they are using these facilities, you still have to physically distance, not gather in groups of more than 5, wash your hands regularly and practice good cough etiquette. You should also note that due to the provincial state of emergency: playgrounds, park washrooms, outdoor gym equipment, splash pads, and pools remain closed until May 29.

More Conservation Areas Reopening:

The Grand River Conservation Authority is reopening more parks this weekend. As of Saturday you can visit: Laurel Creek in Waterloo or Shade’s Mills in Cambridge. Also opening are Belwood Lake, Conestogo Lake, Guelph Lake and Rockwood conservation areas for limited activities such as walking and birdwatching. They will be open from 8am until 6pm.

Waterloo Region Numbers:

The numbers from Waterloo Region public health were a little discouraging yesterday. They reported 12 new COVID-19 cases and another death. That death was at Trinity Village long-term care, where 18 people have now died. The new Regional case count is 1,049 with 675 considered resolved. The death toll is at 112. There were 5 new cases yesterday in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. They are now up to 354 but 208 cases are resolved. Of the 135 cases in Guelph itself, 95 have recovered.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot



Posted in COVID19, News
Scott Fox and Kat Callaghan