The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Sept. 28
- Coronavirus tracker: Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data as cases surge in parts of Canada
- As COVID-19 cases surge, Montreal and Quebec City set to enter highest alert level
- COVID-19 may delay Liberal pledge to end long-term boil-water advisories on First Nations
- Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists
- Read more: Canada failed to protect elderly in 1st wave of COVID-19 — will the same mistakes be made again?; Why nobody's likely to win a federal-provincial turf war in a pandemic; What it will take to fix COVID-19 test lineups
Ontario sees single-day record of 700 new COVID-19 cases as calls grow to return to tighter restrictions
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the province's record-setting new COVID-19 case count Monday "deeply concerning" but announced no new public health measures, despite calls by a group of doctors and medical experts calling for a return to stricter restrictions.
The province's 700 new cases of COVID-19 is the most reported on a single day since the outbreak began in late January. Speaking to reporters, Ford said Ontario is indeed embarking on its second wave, which will be "more complicated, more complex — it'll be worse" than the first wave. Monday's count surpasses the previous high of 640, which came on April 24, when community transmission of the novel coronavirus was thought to be at its peak in the province.
Still, asked about calls by the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) to re-implement restrictions to limit the spread of the virus, Minister of Health Christine Elliott said, "We don't want to turn back a stage unless we absolutely have to." As for how high the case count needs to climb to get to that point, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams wouldn't say. Williams suggested the province is considering "targeted" measures, but didn't specify what measures might be under consideration, where, or at what point they might be implemented.
Elliott said in a series of tweets that about 60 per cent of new cases Monday were found in people under 40 years old. Thirty-six are "school-related," and a total of 224 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools, or 4.64 per cent, have reported at least one case of the illness. Meanwhile, 44 long-term care facilities throughout the province are reporting outbreaks, a figure that has been slowly increasing in recent weeks.
The number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to steadily rise, and now sits at 128. Twenty-eight of those patients are being treated in intensive care, while 17 are on ventilators.
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As COVID-19 cases surge, Montreal and Quebec City set to enter highest alert level
Quebec's two largest cities are set to be put under the province's highest COVID-19 alert level Monday, bringing new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. Premier François Legault was expected to hold a news conference at 5:30 p.m. ET to outline the change. Quebec reported 750 new cases on Monday, 245 of which were on the island of Montreal.
Health Minister Christian Dubé announced Sunday on Tout le monde en parle, a talk show on Radio-Canada, that both cities would move from the orange to red alert level in the coming days. "Montreal and Quebec City are the hardest-hit areas at the moment. They're very close to the red zone," he said. "We're going to announce it in the coming days because I think we've arrived at that point. We're there and we have to act because people are expecting us to be transparent."
Dubé said that difficult decisions lie ahead and strongly hinted that bars and restaurants in both cities could face more restrictions. Last week, he urged the public to stop socializing for the next month in order to slow the spread of the virus, but said he was reluctant to close bars and restaurants because it would lead people to have gatherings in their homes.
Provincial authorities have said they hope to keep schools open even if a region is moved into the red. Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's health director, said outbreaks in schools have been minimal compared to spread in the community, and that the benefit of a school closure would have to be weighed against the toll put on families.
COVID-19 may delay Liberal pledge to end long-term boil-water advisories on First Nations
The pandemic has put some of the Liberal government's key deadlines of its reconciliation agenda in jeopardy, including a promise to end all long-term boil-water advisories on First Nations by next March. Last week's throne speech indicated a shift in language around the commitment to eliminate the long-term advisories. It dropped mention of the 2021 deadline, which was clearly stated in the previous throne speech in 2019.
A senior government source told CBC News the Liberals are not as comfortable with the March 2021 target date they set as they were before COVID-19 hit. The virus has added an extra layer of complications for the government to fulfil the promise first made during the 2015 election.
Ottawa was already dealing with short construction seasons in communities that rely on ice road transport for heavy equipment and resupply. Now, some communities are not letting outside contractors in, to protect themselves from COVID-19, which may push construction deadlines back even further.
Currently, there are 61 long-term water advisories in effect on Indigenous reserves. Eighty-eight have been lifted since November 2015.
Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists
Canadian ski resort operators planning for a season that begins in about two months are being forced to balance profits with protecting the health of their guests in view of a COVID-19 pandemic that shows few signs of ending, The Canadian Press reports. Although medical experts agree there's little chance of infection while flying through the powder on a steep double-black-diamond ski run, they say the risk increases dramatically when riding a packed gondola to the top of the hill or enjoying a cocktail in a jammed resort bar.
Resorts say skiers and snowboarders will have to wear masks on lifts and gondolas and when indoors, and physical distancing will be encouraged by removing tables and chairs in bars and restaurants. They are vowing more frequent cleaning and sanitizing. But few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill.
The lockdowns last March eliminated as much as 25 per cent of the season for some mountain resorts, said Christopher Nicolson, CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, which represents 92 ski hills west of the Manitoba-Ontario border. Limits on international travel pose a major challenge because 10 to 30 per cent of skiing guests are from outside of Canada, he said. On the other hand, Canadians will find it harder to travel outside the country this winter, so that could result in more domestic ski visits.
Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data from Canada and around the world.
Ontario's 2nd wave of COVID-19 forecast to peak in October
Fresh projections suggest that Ontario's second wave of COVID-19 will peak in mid-to-late October and will likely send enough patients to intensive care that hospitals will need to scale back non-emergency surgeries. The forecasts come from the COVID-19 Modelling Collaborative, a joint effort of scientists and physicians from the University of Toronto, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Hospital.
Based on how quickly Ontario's infection rate has been rising in recent weeks, the model projects the province is on track to exceed 1,000 new cases per day by the middle of October, unless stricter public health measures slow the accelerating spread.
The best-case scenario would mimic Ontario's first wave in March and April, when case numbers increased rapidly but were then reined in by a lockdown. Two moderate scenarios would resemble how a second wave hit jurisdictions comparable to Ontario: the Australian state of Victoria (home to Melbourne, a city of five million), and the U.S. state of Michigan. None of those three scenarios shows COVID-19 patients filling Ontario's hospital wards or ICUs beyond their capacity. That happens only in the modellers' worst-case scenario: a second wave as severe as the first wave that hit Italy when the pandemic began.
However, in all but the best-case scenario, the researchers foresee ICU demand that exceeds the capacity required for patients undergoing scheduled surgeries.
Lights, camera, COVID compliance: How film, TV sets tackle pandemic shoot safety
There's a new job on film and TV sets: COVID compliance officers. They make sure cast and crew are wearing personal protective equipment, practising physical distancing and washing hands.
Josh Van Altenberg, typically a paramedic on film and TV sets around Toronto, has expanded the scope of his job. It now includes performing temperature checks and making sure cast and crew are adhering to safety protocols — no matter how famous they may be. "COVID doesn't care what tax bracket we're in," Van Altenberg told CBC News.
If someone does get sick on set, they would be isolated immediately. Productions are being advised to track where people have been and who they may have worked with. That way, parts of the set can be deep-cleaned and others told to isolate, if necessary.
Scott Thom, a carpenter working on productions in Sudbury, Ont., sits on the executive of his local union, representing film technicians in northern Ontario and Ottawa. He helped craft the framework to get the industry back to work — and thinks these new rules will help them keep working. "It's a little difficult to try and get your head around. We're so used to just all blending and zigging and zagging in and out of the workspace," he said.
Find out more about COVID-19
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With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters