The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
11:20 am Many US companies that began producing personal protective equipment with patriotic optimism have scaled back, shut down or given up, according to an Associated Press analysis based on numerous interviews with manufacturers. Some already have sold equipment they bought with state government grants.
As COVID-19 was stress hospitals and shuttering businesses in 2020, elected officials touted the need to boost US production of protective gear. Yet many manufacturers who answered the call have faced logistical hurdles, regulatory rejections, slumping demand and fierce competition from foreign suppliers. After the initial scramble for PPE subsided, many industry newcomers had difficulty selling products.
“At the end of the day, when everybody said they wanted American-made, nobody’s buying, not even the state,” said Tony Blogumas, vice president of Green Resources Consulting, a rural Missouri firm that received an $800,000 state grant but has sold only a few thousand masks. “We’re kind of upset about the whole situation.”
10:30 am Ontario is reporting 1,090 people hospitalized with COVID-19, and 184 in ICU. There were 2,401 new cases and 3 deaths reported. Positivity rate is 17.6 percent.
10:15 am The Honda Indy is returning to Toronto from July 15-17. Tickets go on sale on April 14 at 10 am at hondaindy.com The even was canceled the last two summers because of the pandemic.
10:07 am Toronto’s board of health is meeting this morning. Dr. Eileen de Villa is expected to provide a COVID update. The Board will also discuss health impacts of COVID on children and youth, and a report on climate change and public health.Dr. de Villa acknowledges we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 activity, which is “not unanticipated.” However, health system indicators are still declining.
Dr. de Villa says there were fewer hospitalizations during the Omicron surge compared to previous waves, but hospitalizations are now starting to increase.
Dr. de Villa says public health is updating how it is reporting on the pandemic due to “changing availability and accuracy of data sources.” It will focus more on wastewater trends, less on percent positivity.
9:55 am When Ontario launched its rapid testing program in the fall of 2020, Premier Doug Ford touted the swabs as “game changers” in the pandemic battle. The infections ripped through front-line workers in hard-hit areas like Brampton and Toronto’s northwest corner, the province hailed the initiative as a vital tool to stem the tide.
Over the next 10 months, however, just one-fifth of the 20.7 million taxpayer-funded COVID-19 rapid tests distributed through the program went to hot spothoods, according to provincial neighbor data obtained by the Star and never before seen by the public.
And while the province got rapid tests to some crowded workplaces and areas of high transmission at this crucial time when vaccines were only just rolling out, the internal data show that only a fraction of the tests went to communities the province designated internally as “high priority” .”
CIYMI: Read the full story from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Rachel Mendleson and Andrew Bailey
9:42 am Matisse Thybulle took a seat, took a breath and took a moment to explain why he made a choice — one the Philadelphia 76ers defensive specialist admitted he tried to keep hidden — not to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Thybulle’s choice will cost him playing time in the postseason, and could cost the Sixers their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against Toronto.
Thybulle is barred from Canada because unvaccinated foreign nationals are currently prohibited from entering the country and limited exemptions to the rule no longer apply to professional athletes.
8:30 am Signs of life are beginning to show in the travel industry as visitor numbers to international destinations begin to rise.
ForwardKeys research showed that a return to normalcy began in Central America and the Caribbean in 2021 driven by pent-up demand from US travelers and Europeans.
Now, ForwardKeys has found that hunger has a new focus: Africa and the Middle East. The US outbound market could aid recovery in the fragile tourism sector in Africa, according to ForwardKeys.
The company found that the volume of flight searches from the US to South Africa has grown by 2 per cent from January to February 2022. The overall volume of flight searches from the South Africa for the same period is up by 30 per cent.
7:55 am COVID-19 is manageable now without masks and restrictions, despite some people’s concerns Nunavut’s public health emergency measures might be ending too soon, says chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson.
“I understand that some will be worried about these changes, but we are confident that we are in a place where we can start living normally again,” he said in a COVID-19 virtual press conference Thursday.
Patterson also said the territory will soon announce details on how people can get a second booster shot.
The Health Department confirmed Wednesday the territory’s public health emergency will be lifted April 11, after originally announcing that date in early March. It had been in place since March 18, 2020.
7:30 pm Ontario’s top doctor is set to provide an update Monday at 1 pm on COVID-19 and access to antiviral treatment in the province.
It will be the first such update from Dr. Kieran Moore since early March.
Wastewater surveillance suggests cases have been on the rise since mid-to late March.
The scientific director of Ontario’s panel of COVID-19 advisers has said the latest wastewater data suggest daily cases are around 100,000 to 120,000.
Dr. Peter Juni said last week it’s unclear how long this wave of the pandemic will last since limits on testing make it difficult to know how many people have been infected and have a bit of immunity.
7:30 am “Feels like it went from ‘We’re all in this together’ to ‘You’re on your own’ real quick,” wrote Dr. Andrew Boozary (@drandrewb) on Twitter recently.
Hard to sum it up better than that.
If you’ve spent the last few weeks astonished by all the unmasked shoppers in the grocery store, you can likely report. It often feels as if half the world has been keeping an eye on spiking BA. 2 case rates in Denmark and elsewhere, and the other half is celebrating the “end” of the pandemic like it’s prom and they’ve graduated from high school.
It’s not even clear it’s their fault. Not everybody has time to keep track of case rates in Scandinavia and Toronto wastewater levels. Many simply believed, not unreasonably, that if the provincial government thought it was time to remove vaccine and mask mandates, the threat from COVID-19 must have ended.
Read the story from Christine Sismondo
7:05 am The daughter of an 87-year-old Oakville nursing home resident is forbidden from speaking to front-line workers. Her family’s daily phone calls with her mom have been eliminated and, as of February, she’s been banned from all but two locations within the home.
The manager called her a harasser of staff. The woman said she’s still waiting to find out why.
Written accusations of “harassment” or “vexatious behavior” exposed in a recent Star story about visiting restrictions placed on 80-year-old Margaret Calver by her husband’s Markham facility have been used within the last year by at least four other operators, a mix of for-profit, municipal and not-for-profit homes.
The pandemic has been a time of chaos in long-term care and for many sons or daughters, watching a parent decline has led to guilt, anger — and a sharp focus on the operations of homes. Tempers are high on both sides. Families are furious. And operators, like Sienna Senior Living or Villa Colombo, are defending their employees.
Read the full story from the Star’s Moira Welsh
Monday 5:56 am: Christine Enns said she was shocked when a rapid test showed she had tested positive for COVID-19.
Enns, who received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot, already had the virus in early February and thought reinfection was rare.
“I started feeling sick three to four days ago thinking, ‘This feels like COVID.’ I took five tests and … today it came back positive, ”the bakery owner said Friday from her home in Warren, Mba., About 45 kilometers north of Winnipeg.
“It did come as a surprise to me because of all the things I put in place to not get it. Now that I had it twice, I don’t feel quite as invincible.”
Reinfection of COVID-19 was considered unusual, but then the Omicron variant arrived.
“Because Omicron is so different, previous infection doesn’t protect you,” Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said last week.
He said public health data suggests up to 10 percent of infected Canadians who have recently had BA.2 — a sub-variant of Omicron — previously had BA.1 or a previous infection, like the Delta variant.
This aligns with recent studies done in England that suggest 10 percent of reported cases are reinfections.
“That shows just because you got Omicron once doesn’t mean you’re bulletproof now,” Shahab said.
Read Sunday’s coronavirus news.
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