The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Wednesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
10:05 p.m.: The head of the Chicago police officers union has called on its members to defy the city's requirement to report their COVID-19 vaccination status by Friday or be placed on unpaid leave.
In the video posted online Tuesday and first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara vowed to take Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration to court if it tries to enforce the mandate, which requires city workers to report their vaccine status by the end of the work week. After Friday, unvaccinated workers who won't submit to semiweekly coronavirus testing will be placed on unpaid leave.
Catanzara suggested that if the city does enforce its requirement and many union members refuse to comply with it, “It's safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up."
In the video, Catanzara instructs officers to file for exemptions to receiving the vaccine but to not enter that information into the city's vaccine portal.
He said that although he has made clear his vaccine status, "I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history.”
9:16 p.m.: About 800 San Francisco city workers have asked for medical or religions exemptions to avoid a looming deadline for them to get vaccinated or lose their jobs, but so far the city has not approved a single request, a human resources official said Wednesday.
About 1,900, or 5.5 per cent of the city's 35,000-employee workforce, have not complied with the mandate to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1, said Mawuli Tugbenyoh, chief of policy at San Francisco’s Department of Human Resources.
Police officers, firefighters and other employees who work in high-risk settings were expected to be vaccinated by Wednesday. However, among that group 260 police, fire and sheriff's employees sought religious or medical waivers, he said.
Tugbenyoh said the requests were being reviewed “as quickly as possible,” but would not say how many have been considered and denied.
San Francisco announced the mandate on June 23, becoming the first large city in the country to require all of its employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, unless they have a valid religious or medical exemption.
Even if waivers are accepted, unvaccinated employees could still be reassigned to another role, put on leave, asked to work from home or let go from their jobs if they continue to refuse the shot, the human resources department said.
About 120 police officers face termination because they didn't meet Wednesday's deadline, said Tom Saggau, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association.
“With over 90 per cent of police officers vaccinated and more being vaccinated every day, the rush to fire cops makes little sense,” the union said in statement Wednesday.
Police officials are prepared to reassign officers in case of a staffing shortage caused by employees who did not meet the deadline, Mayor London Breed told reporters.
9:05 p.m.: The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has issued a subpoena to a former Justice Department lawyer who positioned himself as an ally of Donald Trump and aided the Republican president's efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election.
The subpoena to Jeffrey Clark, revealed Wednesday, came amid signs of a rapidly escalating congressional inquiry. At least three of the people who were involved in organizing and running the rally that preceded the violent riot are handing over documents in response to subpoenas from the committee.
The demands for documents and testimony from Clark reflect the committee's efforts to probe not only the deadly insurrection but also the tumult that roiled the Justice Department in the weeks leading up to it as Trump and his allies leaned on government lawyers to advance his baseless claims that the election results were fraudulent. Trump loyalists who wrongly believed the election had been stolen stormed the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.
Clark, an assistant attorney general in the Trump administration, has emerged as a pivotal character in that saga. A Senate committee report issued last week shows how he championed Trump's efforts to undo the election results and clashed as a result with Justice Department superiors who resisted the pressure, culminating in a dramatic White House meeting at which Trump ruminated about elevating Clark to attorney general.
“The Select Committee’s investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” the chairman of the committee, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, wrote in a letter to Clark announcing the subpoena.
8:30 p.m.: A vaccine clinic is being set up this week at Silverthorn Collegiate Institute, the Etobicoke high school currently closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The clinic is open to the community and will be run out of the school cafeteria on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with an additional three days planned for next week, according to the school board.
On Monday evening, Toronto Public Health said it was investigating 11 cases among students at the Mill Road school and dismissed all in-person classes, making it the first Toronto school to close this academic year.
As of Wednesday, there were seven active cases there, while four had resolved.
8:25 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford will lift COVID-19 capacity limits in restaurants, bars, and gyms when he unveils additional benchmarks for further reopening Ontario’s economy.
Ford, who is expected to meet with reporters Friday, hopes to deliver encouraging news for restaurateurs and others — such as publicans and fitness centre owners — who are concerned about restrictions on their businesses.
The premier’s news conference will come days before his Progressive Conservative government unveils detailed steps for reopening next week.
It’s been about three months since Ontario entered the current “step three” of reopening.
“We’re calling it ‘pandemic plan 2.0’ — but it’s not just about reopening,” a senior government official told the Star on Wednesday, confirming a CBC report that broke the news.
The plan will include key health markers like intensive care unit capacity in hospitals, daily COVID-19 case counts, and vaccination rates to enable the government to reinstate pandemic prohibitions if need be.
8 p.m.: The TTC’s largest union is ramping up its fight against the transit agency’s vaccine mandate, claiming in new legal filings that the policy requiring employees to get their COVID-19 shots is a violation of provincial labour law.
In a pair of applications made to the Ontario Labour Relations Board on Tuesday, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents nearly 12,000 TTC employees, alleges management has engaged in unfair labour practices by imposing two COVID-related policies in recent weeks. The applications have not been tested at the board.
The crux of the union’s case in both filings is that its collective bargaining agreement with the TTC expired at the end of March. The two sides are in arbitration over a new contract, but Local 113 argues that until an agreement is in place the Labour Relations Act and other provincial legislation mandates a “freeze” period during which the TTC is barred from changing members’ conditions of employment.
The vaccine policy the TTC introduced on Sept. 7 requires all 16,000 of its workers be fully vaccinated by Oct. 30. Although there are limited exceptions, compliance is a “precondition to employment.” Local 113 claims the policy “constitutes a substantial and dramatic change from the status quo” that “is expressly prohibited” during the freeze.
In a second application, the union claims the TTC also violated the freeze by delaying the date bus, streetcar and subway operators can sign up for their November shifts until after the Oct. 30 vaccination deadline. The TTC says the move is necessary to address potential labour shortages if a significant number of employees are not vaccinated on time.
7:30 p.m.: For many of this country’s snowbirds, the U.S. plan to reopen its land border to Canadians comes too late to change the COVID-19 contingency plans they’ve already made.
That’s very much the case for Bob Slack and his wife.
For the past 22 years, the retired Ontario couple have made the trek to Winter Haven, Fla., northwest of Orlando, there to spend the winter soaking up sun.
Though that streak was broken last year by COVID, Slack had every intention of resuming their annual migration this November. But with the U.S. border still closed to Canadian land traffic at the time they were planning, the couple, who usually drive to Florida, had to make alternative arrangements.
Like many of Canada’s estimated one million snowbirds, that meant flying across the border and having their vehicle shipped to them, at considerable expense.
7 p.m.: A standardized vaccine passport that would pave Canadians’ way for easier domestic and international travel could be coming in a matter of weeks, with recent delays less about buy-in from provinces and more about the technology behind the system.
Ottawa first began working on a national vaccine passport this spring. Days before the federal election was called in August, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino — who leads the federal department tasked with implementing a proof of vaccination system for international travel — said the government’s hope was to launch a vaccination credential program “as early as early fall.”
While it missed that target, the goal now is to have a vaccine passport available “within weeks,” a senior government source told the Star. If that deadline isn’t met, “it won’t be longer than a week or two after that,” the source said.
That timeline would align with the federal government’s requirement for all travellers on planes, interprovincial trains and some maritime vessels to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Oct. 30.
It will be up to operators to establish their own processes to manually or digitally verify a traveller’s vaccination status.
6:33 p.m.: Tofino General Hospital on Vancouver Island has joined the list of 19 acute care, long-term care or assisted-living facilities in B.C. with a COVID-19 outbreak.
A statement from the Health Ministry says there have been 605 new cases diagnosed, bringing the active case count to 5,172.
There have been four more deaths in the province, including three in the Northern Health area, where the health minister has said the vaccination rate is lower than the rest of the province.
There are 374 people in hospital, of whom 153 are in intensive care units.
More than 4.1 million people, or almost 89 per cent of eligible residents, have had their first COVID shot, while 82.7 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Those people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 68 per cent of the diagnosed cases in B.C. between Oct. 5 to 11.
6:20 p.m.: Two-year-old Maddi has only spent 30 days with her dad over the past 19 months.
“He’s missed almost all of her being two,” says mother Jaslyn DeClercq.
DeClercq, a Canadian citizen, lives with Maddi in Tillsonburg, Ont. Thomas Musgrave, Maddi’s father and DeClercq’s fiancé, is an American who lives and works full-time in Findlay, Ohio.
When DeClercq got off work Tuesday night and heard the U.S. land border would be opening to vaccinated Canadians next month, she rushed to pick little Maddi up from her grandparents to tell her the good news.
“I told her that we were going to be able to go see Dad and Pop Pop and she got so happy,” DeClercq told the Star on Wednesday, choking back tears. (Maddi’s paternal grandparents also live in Ohio.)
Canada re-opened its border to fully vaccinated Americans in August, but the U.S. has remained shut to non-essential travel at its land and ferry crossing points. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would be lifting those restrictions for vaccinated travellers starting next month.
6:03 p.m.: One of the challenges for Erin O’Toole, in staying on as Conservative leader, will be deciding whether his MPs must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the House of Commons.
Mandatory immunization has been called for by the Liberals and Bloc Québécois, and supported by the NDP, as parties prepare for Parliament to resume following last month’s federal election.
It’s unclear when MPs will return, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced a vaccine mandate set to take full effect Dec.1 that will require air and train passengers to be immunized in order to board.
Included in that policy will be federal politicians travelling to Ottawa from different parts of the country.
Conservative whip and Alberta MP Blake Richards said negotiations around returning to the House of Commons haven’t started yet and “we will continue to follow all public health guidelines and encourage every Canadian who is able to get vaccinated.”
He added “under no circumstances will Conservatives support virtual Parliament,” with members participating via videoconference. His office has yet to clarify whether it supports or opposes the calls for MPs to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
During the campaign O’Toole opposed the Liberal plan to make vaccination the rule for federal public servants, people working in government-regulated industries and domestic travellers.
But he was silent last week when a re-elected Trudeau unveiled the policy, with British Columbia MP Mark Strahl tweeting the mandate is “discriminatory, coercive and must be opposed.”
“We must continue to demand reasonable exemptions and accommodations, like rapid testing, for those unable or unwilling to be vaccinated.”
O’Toole’s office has yet to provide a response as to whether the Conservative leader remains opposed to the federal mandate. It also didn’t reply when asked about his message to Conservative MPs who might not be fully vaccinated, given he didn’t make immunization a requirement for candidates during the campaign.
4 p.m.: On weekends when the Bills are playing a home game at Highmark Stadium, Mike Shatzel usually starts hearing plenty of Canadian accents at the bars and restaurants he runs in the Buffalo area.
But, for the last two seasons, the trickle of people heading into Cole’s, Allen Burger Venture and Thin Man Brewing have been pretty much all been Western New York locals.
News that the Biden administration was set to open the U.S. land border after almost 18 months of COVID-related closure was more than welcome.
“We’ve missed you guys. It’ll be nice to have you back,” said Shatzel. “It’s great for everybody. Restaurants, hotels, malls, the Sabres and Bills. This is fantastic news.”
Wednesday’s announcement that the U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada would open in November for fully vaccinated visitors sparked relief and near-giddiness for tourism and hospitality businesses in Buffalo, Detroit and other U.S. border cities that have long counted on Canadian visitors to bolster their bottom lines.
3:42 p.m. Saskatchewan is preparing to send some of its critical COVID-19 patients to Ontario as its hospitals are over capacity.
Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said Wednesday that the province is preparing air ambulance flights.
Transfers to Ontario could likely happen this week, he said, but that depends on the admissions to Saskatchewan’s intensive care units.
“We’ve been in discussion with Ontario to provide care to Saskatchewan residents in the event that we will not be able to care for them within our standard of care,” Livingstone said.
On Tuesday, the province was two patients shy of having 116 people in its ICUs — the threshold that would trigger sending ICU patients out of province.
The number also means Saskatchewan’s ICUs are nearing 150 per cent capacity, which is when the province has said it would activate its triage protocol.
Saskatchewan has stopped all elective surgeries, started cancelling urgent surgeries and admitted adults into its children’s hospital. Additionally, more than 160 health-care workers have been redeployed.
“We are seeing unprecedented rates of hospitalizations and ICU admissions. This is pushing the system to a place where we are not providing care to non-COVID patients across this province as we should be,” Livingstone said.
He added that a major medical event would result in doctors choosing who does and does not get an intensive care bed.
“We’re making sure we’re prepared for the worst,” he said.
Ottawa has offered help to Saskatchewan.
Marlo Pritchard, president of Saskatchewan’sPublic Safety Agency, who is also leading its emergency operations centre, said the province has not applied for federal help.
Last week, Premier Scott Moe said Saskatchewan is being “realistic,” as the Armed Forces and Red Cross have finite resources.
Andrew MacKendrick, a spokesman for the federal health minister, said the federal government is committed to helping.
“The COVID situation across the country varies, and so would the additional supports required,” he said.
“Our officials will continue their conversations and stand ready to assist in co-ordinating as much support as can be provided to align with the support that the province or territory needs.”
3:10 p.m. It just so happened that on the day the U.S. announced that it was finally, after all these months, going to reopen its land border to Canadian travellers, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland — the Trudeau government’s all-purpose handler of important stuff — was in Washington. Standing in a park in front of the White House as anti-pipeline environmentalist protesters shouted behind her, she was asked Wednesday morning about the long-awaited good news for snowbirds, cross-border shoppers, and those who miss their families and friends living in the U.S.
Her answer touched on why, although fully vaccinated Canadians will soon be able to travel to the U.S. for non-essential reasons such as tourism or family visits, they might think twice about whether they should.
“There are two different issues, right? Personal safety and what we should all be doing collectively to keep Canadians collectively as safe as possible in the face of this fourth wave, and of new and more contagious COVID variants,” Freeland said. “I think it’s really important for Canadians to listen closely to the advice from medical authorities.”
Read the full story by the Star’s Edward Keenan: Canadians will soon be able to drive across the U.S. border again. Here’s why that might be a bad idea
2:30 p.m. Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting that another five people in the province have died as a result of COVID-19.
That brings the number of COVID-19-related deaths in the province to 80.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the pandemic’s fourth wave, fuelled by the Delta variant, is hitting the province harder than any previous wave.
Health officials reported 82 new cases of COVID-19 today, and the number of active cases is 1,074.
There are 68 people hospitalized due to the virus, including 27 in intensive care.
All New Brunswick hospitals have instituted protocols that permit them to postpone non-urgent medical procedures and redeploy staff to maintain emergency operations.
2:10 p.m. Don’t plan on visiting the Toronto Zoo if you’re not double vaccinated.
Wednesday, the zoo announced it is implementing a mandatory vaccination requirement.
This new policy, which applies to eligible “guests, members, business partners, contractors and all other visitors ages 12+,” goes into effect on Monday, Oct. 25.
Proof of vaccination will be checked at the zoo’s front entrance.
In an Oct. 13 news release, the Toronto Zoo said throughout the pandemic they have been “consistently reviewing operations and developing processes to ensure the safety of all.”
This latest move is part of that effort, CEO Dolf DeJong said in the release.
Read the full story here: Toronto Zoo announces mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for visitors
2 p.m. Romanian doctors sent an open letter Wednesday titled “a cry of despair” as the country’s overwhelmed and deteriorated health care system copes with a record-setting surge of coronavirus infections and deaths.
The College of Physicians of Bucharest, a nongovernmental organization representing doctors in Romania’s capital, said in a letter addressed to Romanians that the medical system has “reached the limit” and that low vaccination rates reveal a “failure of trust” between doctors and the population.
“We are desperate because every day we lose hundreds of patients who die in Romanian hospitals,” the letter reads. “We are desperate, because, unfortunately, we have heard too many times: I can’t breathe.… I’m not vaccinated.”
Romania, a country of 19 million people, is the European Union member nation with the population second-least vaccinated against COVID-19. Just 34 per cent of its adults are fully inoculated, compared to an EU average of 74 per cent.
1:50 p.m. The Russia-backed separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday reported the largest spike in new coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic, saying the health care system has been overwhelmed.
The separatist authorities have asked Russia for more assistance, and a convoy is expected to deliver Russian vaccines, ventilators and other medical equipment on Thursday.
The health authorities in the Donetsk region of 2.2 million reported 1,005 new confirmed infections and 97 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours. The regional Health Department described the situation as “extremely tense,” saying it’s facing a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen.
“Despite the titanic efforts by medical workers, the number of patients with COVID-19 and pneumonia has overwhelmed the health care system’s potential,” the separatists said in a statement. “The situation is extremely tense and it’s exacerbating by the day.”
1:15 p.m. Two of Florida’s largest cities have ended water emergencies now that COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined drastically in the state.
Back in August, the city-owned Orlando Utilities Commission asked residents to stop watering their lawns or washing their cars because liquid oxygen that is used for treating the city’s water was being diverted to hospitals for patients suffering from the virus. The utility made the decision as it faced the prospect of getting only half of its usual shipment of liquid oxygen used for water treatment.
Around the same time, the Tampa Water Department started using chlorine instead of its usual liquid oxygen method to disinfect its water of viruses and bacteria because liquid oxygen was being diverted to local hospitals.
Utility officials in Orlando said Tuesday that residents can resume their normal water use, including irrigating their lawns and washing their cars. In Tampa, water department officials also said they were going back to treating the 310 million litres of drinking water it produces each day with liquid oxygen.
1 p.m. The Durham District School Board is dealing with an “extreme rate” of staff absenteeism that could result in school closures as a last resort.
Director of Education Norah Marsh told trustees at the October standing committee meeting that the absences “are due mostly to COVID-19 management” and noted it’s a challenge being seen across the province.
“We are getting dangerously close in some situations in terms of having to make the tough decision that the school cannot operate on that particular day due to high staff absenteeism. Of course, that’s going to be a last resort,” Marsh said.
The DDSB also faced this issue last year — but not until the spring when COVID-19 screening rules were tightened.
12:42 p.m. Several Ontario hospitals are enacting mandatory vaccination policies for visitors, in addition to mandates for their staff.
University Health Network in Toronto, which enacted an early vaccine mandate for staff that went beyond a provincial directive, is now planning to ask visitors for proof of full vaccination starting Oct. 22.
Spokeswoman Gillian Howard says the hospital network cares for some of the most immune-compromised and immune-suppressed people in the province, so they want to do everything possible to protect the patients.
Beginning on Oct. 25, Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga and west Toronto will require proof of vaccination from people going to visit patients, except for partners of patients in labour and delivery, patients at the end of life, pediatric patients, and those in the emergency department.
They say they will not be accepting a negative test in lieu of full vaccination for all other visitors, in order to devote staff resources to focus on patient care.
Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance says it will require family and caregivers to be fully vaccinated starting Nov. 1, with similar exceptions as Trillium Health Partners.
“Our primary responsibility to those needing our hospitals for care and to our team is to provide as safe an environment as possible,” president and CEO Andrew Williams said in a statement.
12:15 p.m. Saskatchewan is a few intensive care patients away from having to activate its triage protocol, which means doctors in the province could soon have to decide who can and cannot get care in intensive care units.
Data from the Saskatchewan Health Authority shows there were 114 people in ICUs across the province yesterday afternoon and 79 of those patients had COVID-19.
The ICU numbers change throughout the day, but the province was just two patients away from having to activate its “red zone,” which is triggered when there are 116 people in intensive care.
John Ash, executive director of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said last week that additional nurses would need to be brought in, more surgeries would have to be cancelled and ICU patients would need to be transferred out of province when the red zone is triggered.
Saskatchewan has already stopped all elective surgeries, started cancelling urgent surgeries and admitted adults into its children’s hospital.
Hospital data shows the province was also about five ICU patients away from having a 150 per cent surge capacity in its ICUs — a number that would trigger the province to activate its triage protocol.
The province is expected to provide more information during a COVID-19 briefing later Wednesday.
12 p.m. Twenty-three of the 24 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in Nova Scotia are in the central health zone, which includes Halifax.
Health officials say the remaining new case is in the western zone.
They say the coronavirus continues to circulate in the central zone among people aged between 20 and 40 who are unvaccinated.
Officials are also reporting 32 more recoveries.
Nova Scotia has 187 active reported cases of COVID-19 and 16 people in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care.
Officials say there have been COVID-19 exposures at five more schools in the province.
11:40 a.m. Quebec is delaying its deadline for health-care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 until Nov. 15.
Health Minister Christian Dubé says the potential departure of thousands of health-care workers presents too great a risk for the province’s health system.
He told reporters today that starting Monday, all unvaccinated health-care workers in the public sector will be tested for COVID-19 at least three times a week.
The province had imposed a deadline of this Friday for all health-care workers in the public and private sector to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face suspension without pay.
Ontario has administered 29,857 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 22,119,312 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.
According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 11,362,377 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 87.2 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 76.4 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.
11:10 a.m. Starting in November, fully vaccinated Canadians will be allowed entry into the United States by land or ferry ports of entry.
The land border has been closed to Canadians since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
The U.S. lifting land border restrictions in November coincides with the new international air travel system that will also be implemented next month, which will allow fully vaccinated, foreign national air travellers into the country.
10:30 a.m. A Texas man will have to appear in Baltimore to answer a charge of threatening a Maryland doctor who has been a prominent advocate for COVID-19 vaccines, federal prosecutors said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore announced that Scott Eli Harris, 51, of Aubrey, Texas, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of sending a threat across state lines. He was expected in court in Plano, Texas, on Wednesday ahead of an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore at a later date, according to the news release.
The one-count indictment alleges that on July 12, Harris sent a threat from his cell phone to the doctor, identified in court documents only as “Dr. L. W., who had been a vocal proponent of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
10:05 a.m. Ontario is reporting 306 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, according to Dr. Jennifer Kwan; 202 cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 104 are in fully vaccinated individuals.
In Ontario, 22,119,312 vaccine doses have been administered. 87.1 per cent of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 82.5 per cent have two doses, according to a tweet from Health Minister Christine Elliott.
10 a.m. Nearly 1,500 hospital staff and physicians are unvaccinated against COVID in Hamilton and potentially face termination after November.
The stricter staff vaccine policies come as Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) and St. Joseph’s Healthcare already have hundreds of unfilled jobs between them.
It’s also at the same time that the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has warned that burnout has increased over the pandemic “to levels that pose a threat to maintaining a functioning health-care workforce.”
“Health worker burnout is now threatening Ontario’s overall health workforce, and will probably outlast the pandemic,” the science table said in a tweet Tuesday. “Ontario needs to pay particular attention to those most at risk of burnout: nurses, ICU and emerg staff, women, recent graduates and trainees. Even small changes have big effects on patient safety, absenteeism and mental health.”
8:45 a.m. Need new snow tires? Better start shopping now before the opportunity rolls away.
The same COVID-related supply-chain woes that have hit everything from microchips to food to used cars means it will be harder than usual to get winter tires this year. (You can also thank a lousy harvest for rubber trees in Southeast Asia, the world’s largest source of natural rubber.)
A director at one of Canada’s biggest tire retailers said the company has been working hard to keep an adequate supply on hand. Still, Ron Pierce says customers should probably hedge their bets.
8 a.m. TTC stations are holding vaccination clinics this week, Mayor John Tory tweeted Wednesday:
They will be held at Wilson station Oct. 13 — Oct. 15 from 8 a.m. — 8 p.m. and at Victoria Park station Oct. 14 — Oct. 15 8 a.m. — 8 p.m.
7:50 a.m. Russia on Wednesday reported another record of daily coronavirus deaths amid a slow vaccination rate and authorities’ reluctance to tighten restrictions.
The government coronavirus task force reported 984 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, the pandemic’s new high. The country has repeatedly marked record daily death tolls over the past few weeks as infections soared to near all-time highs, with 28,717 confirmed new cases reported Wednesday.
The Kremlin has attributed the mounting contagion and deaths to a laggard vaccination rate. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Tuesday that about 43 million Russians, or about 29 per cent of the country’s nearly 146 million people, were fully vaccinated.
President Vladimir Putin has emphasized the need to speed up the vaccination rate, but he also has cautioned against forcing people to get the shots by applying administrative pressure. Experts have attributed the slow pace of vaccination to widespread vaccine skepticism and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
The Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide lockdown like the one during the first months of the pandemic that badly crippled the economy and dented Putin’s ratings, delegating the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.
Some Russian regions have restricted attendance at large public events and limited access to theaters, restaurants and other places to people who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19 or tested negative in the previous 72 hours.
7:35 a.m. Puerto Rico’s governor announced Tuesday that he would be lifting a curfew and a ban on alcohol sales as the U.S. territory reports a drop in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
Current restrictions prohibit certain businesses from operating between midnight and 5 a.m. and also bar alcohol sales during that time, two measures that will be lifted Thursday.
However, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said other restrictions, including an indoors mask requirement, remain in place.
He noted that 70 per cent of the island’s 3.3 million people are vaccinated, and that the positivity rate for coronavirus tests dropped to 3 per cent, compared with 10 per cent in August.
Puerto Rico has reported more than 150,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 3,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus.
7:22 a.m. Florida has issued its first fine to a county it accuses of violating a new state law banning coronavirus vaccine mandates and for firing 14 workers who failed to get the shots.
The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday issued the $3.5 million fine for Leon County, saying the home to the state capital of Tallahassee violated Florida’s “vaccine passport” law that bars requiring people to show proof of vaccination.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says that “no one should lose their jobs because of COVID shots.”
The law is being challenged in court and conflicts with a Biden administration order that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to be vaccinated or face weekly testing.
The Leon County administrator says the county believes its vaccination mandate is legally justifiable and necessary to keep people safe.
6:15 a.m.: A growing chorus of health experts and business groups are questioning the recent decision by the Ford government to allow large venues to return to 100 per cent capacity while leaving strict capacity rules in place for bars, restaurants and gyms.
The announcement, which came into effect Friday at midnight, means that large venues where proof of vaccination is required — including movie theatres, concert halls and arenas — can now fill every seat. Masks are recommended but are not required for patrons who are enjoying a cold beer or hot dog in the stands, perplexing many who say such venues are less safe than restaurants where patrons can also remove masks to eat and drink.
Epidemiologist Colin Furness said the announcement doesn’t make sense to him.
“It’s anti-science,” said Furness, a professor at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. “What you don’t want is large gatherings. You want small gatherings.”
6 a.m.: The puck will drop on a new NHL season tonight for most of Canada’s teams.
Fans attending the games in Toronto and Edmonton in person will be subject to restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
This campaign is also the end of the one-and-done North Division, which had all seven Canadian teams play each other — and no one else — last season. The North Division was necessary as the Canadian-American border was closed to non-essential travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the border has reopened, Canada’s NHL teams are returning to their usual divisions.
5:40 a.m.: Wages and COVID-19 restrictions pushed workers out of the restaurant and food services industry and into professional service roles in white-collar sectors, according to an analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
By February 2021, almost a quarter-million workers in Canada who used to be employed in food and accommodation had found new jobs outside that sector, many of them switching to roles as secretaries or assistants for accountants, lawyers, architects and more, the study finds.
Employment in food services is now 14.8 per cent below its pre-pandemic level, according to Canada’s September labour-force survey. That’s an improvement from the worker shortages during third-wave restrictions earlier this year, but it means there are still 180,000 workers who left food-service positions in February 2020 and never returned.
5:20 a.m.: Yvonne Binda stands in front of a church congregation, all in pristine white robes, and tells them not to believe what they’ve heard about COVID-19 vaccines.
“The vaccine is not linked to Satanism,” she says. The congregants, members of a Christian Apostolic church in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, are unmoved. But when Binda, a vaccine campaigner and member of an Apostolic church herself, promises them soap, buckets and masks, there are enthusiastic shouts of “Amen!”
Apostolic groups that infuse traditional beliefs into a Pentecostal doctrine are among the most skeptical in Zimbabwe when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, with an already strong mistrust of modern medicine. Many followers put faith in prayer, holy water and anointed stones to ward off disease or cure illnesses.
The congregants Binda addressed in the rural area of Seke sang about being protected by the holy spirit, but have at least acknowledged soap and masks as a defense against the coronavirus. Binda is trying to convince them to also get vaccinated — and that’s a tough sell.
5:15 a.m.: It’s hard to know where Kyrie Irving is getting his vaccination information. Hope it’s not the same sources that had him convinced for a while the Earth was flat.
So maybe it wasn’t much of a surprise Tuesday, when science tripped up the seven-time All-Star again. Hemmed in by a New York COVID-19 vaccine mandate that covers pro athletes and would have limited Irving to playing road games only, the Brooklyn Nets gave him an ultimatum: a.) take the shot; or b.) take the 2021-22 season off.
The argument for a.) is pretty straightforward. The Nets are paying Irving $34 million per year to blend with Kevin Durant and James Harden — two of the best players in the game — and maybe deliver an NBA title to Brooklyn. But b.) is not bad, either.
Irving can stay glued to his couch and still collect a cool $16 million or so. That’s because Nets general manager Sean Marks and owner Joe Tsai, who together decided the “half-a-loaf” approach wasn’t worth the disruption, also said Irving would be paid for road games where he would have been eligible to play.
“Will there be pushback from Kyrie and his camp?” Marks said at a news conference. “I’m sure that this is not a decision that they like. … But again, this is a choice that Kyrie had, and he was well aware of that.”
Irving has ducked questions about whether he was vaccinated, saying three weeks ago in a Zoom interview with reporters, “I think I just would love to just keep that private, handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with the plan.”
Whatever that plan is, Marks made clear that Irving, a vice president of the NBA Players Association, was not among the 96% of players the union said had taken the jab. “If he was vaccinated,” Marks said, “we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
5 a.m.: The U.S. government is planning in early November to allow fully vaccinated Canadians to cross its land border with Canada, officials said Tuesday night. The border has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
In a statement, New York Rep. Brian Higgins broke the news, which was also confirmed by senior Biden administration officials who previewed the new policy to the Associated Press.
“At long last, there is action by the United States to open the doors and welcome back our Canadian neighbours,” Higgins said in the statement. The U.S. lawmaker, a Democrat, has been pushing for the border between the two countries to re-open for months now.
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel in November, as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., such as truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated.
Source : https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/10/13/covid-19-coronavirus-updates-toronto-canada-march-19.html7838