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As US grapples with virus, Florida hits record case increase – iNFOnews

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Worshipers attend Mass at the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, marking the reopening of places of worship since the beginning in March of the COVID-19 lockdown, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, July 12, 2020. By order of President Jovenel Moise and the recommendation of Haiti’s health authorities, churches reopened after having been closed for months due to social distancing rules to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery

July 12, 2020 – 1:00 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – With the United States grappling with the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, Florida hit a grim milestone Sunday, shattering the national record for a state’s largest single-day increase in positive cases.

Deaths from the virus have also been rising in the U.S., especially in the South and West, though still well below the heights hit in April, according to a recent Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

“I really do think we could control this, and it’s the human element that is so critical. It should be an effort of our country. We should be pulling together when we’re in a crisis, and we’re definitely not doing it,” said University of Florida epidemiologist Dr. Cindy Prins.

Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, called mask-wearing in public, which has been met with resistance in some U.S. states, “absolutely essential.”

Giroir, the assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that “if we don’t have that, we will not get control of the virus.’’

President Donald Trump wore a mask in public for the first time Saturday, something Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday showed he has “crossed a bridge.”

Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she hopes it means the president “will change his attitude, which will be helpful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.”

In Florida, 15,299 people tested positive, for a total of 269,811 cases, and 45 deaths were recorded, according to state Department of Health statistics.

California had the previous record of daily positive cases — 11,694, set on Wednesday.

The numbers come at the end of a grim, record-breaking week as Florida reported 514 fatalities — an average of 73 per day. Three weeks ago, the state was averaging 30 deaths per day.

Researchers expect deaths to rise in the U.S. for at least some weeks, but some think the count probably will not go up as dramatically as it did in the spring because of several factors, including increased testing.

Meanwhile, countries in Eastern Europe were also facing rising waves of coronavirus infections, leading to riots in Serbia, mandatory face masks in Croatia and travel bans or quarantines imposed by Hungary.

“We see worrisome signs about an increase in the number of cases in the neighbouring countries, Europe and the whole world,” said Gergely Gulyas, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff. “Now, we have to protect our own security and prevent the virus from being brought in from abroad.”

Hungarian authorities said Sunday they have sorted countries into three categories — red, yellow and green — based on their rates of new coronavirus infections, and will impose restrictions, including entry bans and mandatory quarantines, depending on which country people are arriving from.

Serbia, where health authorities are warning that hospitals are almost full due to the latest surge, reported 287 new infections on Sunday, although there have been increasing doubts about the accuracy of the figures. Officially, the country has over 18,000 confirmed infections and 382 deaths since March. Sunday’s report of 11 coronavirus deaths was the country’s second-highest daily death toll.

Serbian police clashed with anti-government protesters for four nights last week, demonstrations that forced the Serbian president to withdraw plans to reintroduce a coronavirus lockdown. Many of the increasing infections have been blamed on crowded soccer matches, tennis events and nightclubs.

In Bulgaria, authorities reintroduced restrictions lifted a few weeks ago because of a new surge in cases.

Albania also has seen a significant increase in infections since mid-May, when it eased lockdown measures. The Balkan nation reported 93 new cases, over twice as many as the highest daily figures in March and April, and the health ministry called the situation at the main infectious disease hospital “grave.”

“Don’t lower vigilance and respect hygiene rules,” Albanian health authorities urged.

Croatia, whose island-dotted Adriatic Sea coast is a major tourist destination, is making wearing masks mandatory in stores beginning Monday.

Yet the numbers of infections in Eastern Europe pale in comparison to daily coronavirus reports from India, South Africa and Brazil, whose virus-denying president has tested positive.

India, which has the most cases after the United States and Brazil, saw a record surge of 28,637 cases reported in the past 24 hours. Authorities also announced a weeklong lockdown beginning Tuesday in the key southern technology hub of Bangalore, where the offices of top tech companies like Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are located.

South Africa has reported over 10,000 new daily cases for several days in a row, including 13,497 new infections announced Saturday night. Johannesburg’s densely populated Soweto township is one of the virus hot spots. With over 264,000 cases and 3,971 deaths, South Africa accounts for over 40% of all the reported coronavirus cases in Africa.

Meanwhile, in Taiwan, which kept its coronavirus outbreak to a few hundred cases, an annual film festival wrapped up with an awards ceremony this weekend where actors and others lined up for photo shoots with no social distancing, and participants didn’t wear masks.

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Gorondi reported from Budapest, Hungary. Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report.

___

News from © The Associated Press, 2020

The Associated Press

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COVID-19 conspiracies creating a 'public health crisis' in Canada, experts say – CBC.ca

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A lively crowd gathered outside François Legault’s office in downtown Montreal in mid-July to send a message to the Quebec premier: His government cannot force them to wear masks in indoor public spaces to fight the spread of COVID 19.

“Long live freedom without a mask,” read one sign at the rally, which drew several dozen people. “My body, my choice” read another, alongside a drawing of a medical mask with a line across it.

The anti-mask movement is not unique to Quebec, nor are masks the only source of conflict in the country when it comes to public health directives around the novel coronavirus. But the issue is one of several at the heart of a growing online movement of disinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

Researchers say conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are spreading at an alarming rate across the country — and they warn misinformation shared online may lead to devastating consequences and push Canadians to shun important safety measures.

“I think that people should be enormously concerned,” said Aengus Bridgman, a PhD candidate in political science at McGill University and co-author of a study published last month on COVID-19 misinformation and its impact on public health.

Social media can drive misinformation about COVID-19: study

The study found the more a person relies on social media to learn about COVID-19, the more likely they are to be exposed to misinformation and to believe it, and to disregard physical distancing and other public health guidelines.

About 16 per cent of Canadians use social media as their primary source of information on the virus, Bridgman said in a recent interview.

His research team surveyed nearly 2,500 people and examined 620,000 English-language Twitter accounts, but Bridgman said COVID-19 misinformation also spreads on other social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Instagram and Tumblr.

For example, a Facebook group called “Against mandatory mask-wearing in Quebec” has over 22,000 members to date, while another group with a similar mission has nearly 21,000 members.

People are dying because of these conspiracy theories and we’ve got to stop them.– Alison Meek, history professor at Western University.

The posts on these pages vary, from questioning the science behind wearing masks and lambasting Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s public health director, for the mandatory mask rule, to accusing the World Health Organization of bias and Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates of creating the virus.

Another study published in May at Carleton University indicated 46 per cent of Canadians believed at least one of four unfounded COVID-19 theories: the virus was engineered in a Chinese lab; the virus is being spread to cover up the effects of 5G wireless technology; drugs such as hydroxychloroquine can cure COVID-19 patients; or rinsing your nose with a saline solution can protect you from infection.

Bridgman said the speed at which these conspiracy theories circulate online makes it difficult to verify where they originate.

And while some right-wing groups in Canada are pushing these falsehoods, Bridgman said people across the political spectrum are vulnerable to them.

“This is a Canadian challenge,” he explained. “People across levels of education, across age groupings, across political ideas, all are susceptible to misinformation online. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to a particular community.”

COVID-19 protestors echo anti-vax movement

Protests have taken place across Canada since the provinces put COVID-19 lockdown measures in place earlier this year, from Vancouver, to Toronto and Quebec City, where hundreds rallied at the provincial legislature July 26 against mandatory mask-wearing.

Alexandre Barriere was among dozens of protesters denouncing the mask rule on July 19 outside Legault’s Montreal office.

He compared mask-wearing to a dog muzzle and said he didn’t believe the COVID-19 pandemic exists.

“We live to be free. We’re not in the world to be controlled like animals,” the 29-year-old said in an interview.

Another protester, 65-year-old Antonio Pietroniro, said the pandemic was “bogus” and warned that, after making masks mandatory, the government would force people to get vaccinated against the virus.

“They’re going to say you have to take the vaccine even though it hasn’t been proven to be safe,” he said, echoing the anti-vaccination movement that has gained prominence in Canada, the U.S. and other countries in recent years.

As people have emerged from COVID-19 isolation in their homes, several cities have implemented mandatory mask policies for indoor spaces, including stores, where physical distancing is difficult. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Alison Meek, a history professor at Western University, said there are similarities between COVID-19 conspiracy theories and the anti-vaccination movement.

Misinformation intentionally spread about COVID-19, she added, is also comparable to the conspiracy theories that circulated in the ’80s and ’90s during the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“When you’re scared, when you’re frustrated, you want someone easy to blame … We want to point to somebody and say, ‘Aha! You’re the one — there’s a bad guy here that did it,’ as opposed to, ‘this is just how these pandemics actually work,’ ” Meek said in an interview.

Governments have had to adapt their public health directives to keep up with rapidly evolving science about the virus.

Public uncertainty around the scientific process, combined with mounting frustrations with lockdown measures and a struggling economy has created a perfect storm in which conspiracy theories can flourish, Meek said.

“All of those things are coming together right now to make these conspiracy theories a real public health crisis that’s getting more and more difficult to deal with.”

She said conspiracy theories need to be countered with facts and evidence, adding that people should be encouraged to think critically about where they are getting their information.

Both she and Bridgman lauded social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook for removing videos and other posts that spread misinformation about COVID-19 — but both academics also said more needs to be done.

“People are dying because of these conspiracy theories and we’ve got to stop them,” Meek said. “We’ve got to somehow figure out how to challenge them.”

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Today's coronavirus news: COVID-19 tracing app faces criticism; Conspiracy theories spreading at alarming rate – Toronto Star

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KEY FACTS

  • 7:15 a.m.: The federal government’s COVID-19 contact tracing app is facing criticism for its download requirements

  • 7:01 a.m.: Researchers say conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are spreading at an alarming rate across Canada

  • 5:33 a.m.: “Girls” mastermind Lena Dunham shares her “Covid Story”

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.

11:25 a.m.: A Norwegian cruise ship line halted all trips and apologized Monday for procedural errors after a coronavirus outbreak on one ship infected at least 5 passengers and 36 crew members. Health authorities fear the ship also could have spread the virus to dozens of towns and villages along Norway’s western coast.

The confirmed virus cases from the MS Roald Amundsen raise new questions about safety on all cruise ships during a pandemic even as the devastated cruise ship industry is pressing to resume sailings after chaotically shutting down in March.

The Hurtigruten cruise line was one of the first companies to resume sailing during the pandemic, starting cruises to Norway out of northern Germany in June with a single ship, then adding cruises in July to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.

The 41 people on the MS Roald Amundsen who tested positive have been admitted to the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the ship currently is docked. The cruise line said it suspended the ship and two others — MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Spitsbergen — from operating for an indefinite period.

11:15 a.m.: The U.S. reported more than 47,000 new coronavirus cases, the smallest daily increase in almost four weeks, despite signs of an uptick in new infections in some northeast and midwest states.

Total coronavirus cases world-wide surpassed 18 million Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S. accounting for more than a quarter of the tally. The U.S. death toll was approaching 155,000.

California reported 9,032 new cases for Saturday, higher than the previous day but down from its peak of more than 12,000 cases on July 21, according to the California Department of Health. The state has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, according to Johns Hopkins.

Florida, another hard-hit state, reported 7,084 new cases among residents, with more than 481,000 cases counted there since the start of the pandemic, according to the Florida Department of Health. The state closed some state-supported testing centers through Tuesday because of the now Tropical Storm Isaias.

10:39 a.m.: Danish organizers say the Tour de France start due to take place in Copenhagen next year has been moved to 2022 to avoid being held in the same month as the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and the European Championship soccer tournament.

Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen says the move means the three-stage Tour start in his city will now be planned for July 1-3, 2022, adding that he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will have passed by then.

The 2021 Tour was scheduled set to start on July 2.

The Tour’s French organizers have yet to announce a replacement city for Copenhagen, although there have been reports that the three-week event could start from the French region of Brittany in 2021.

This year’s Tour, which was supposed to start in June, will now be held Aug. 29-Sept. 20 — starting in Nice.

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7:15 a.m.: The federal government’s COVID-19 contact tracing app is facing criticism for its download requirements, which restrict some Canadians from accessing and using the app.

The app requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system.

Christopher Parsons, a senior research associate at Citizen Lab, part of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Policy, says that makes the app inaccessible for older Canadians and other marginalized groups.

“The worst affected by (the pandemic) are Black, Indigenous, people of colour, people who often have a lower socio-economic bracket. Who’s not going to be able to install the application? That same group … that’s a problem,” he said.

Parsons says criticism should be directed at the federal government, not those who designed the app.

7:01 a.m.: Researchers say conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are spreading at an alarming rate across the country — and they warn misinformation shared online may lead to devastating consequences and push Canadians to shun important safety measures.

“I think that people should be enormously concerned,” said Aengus Bridgman, a PhD candidate in political science at McGill University and co-author of a study published last month on COVID-19 misinformation and its impact on public health.

The study found the more a person relies on social media to learn about COVID-19, the more likely they are to be exposed to misinformation and to believe it, and to disregard physical distancing and other public health guidelines. About 16 per cent of Canadians use social media as their primary source of information on the virus, Bridgman said in a recent interview.

5:33 a.m.: “Girls” mastermind Lena Dunham has shared her “Covid Story” in a lengthy Instagram post detailing her experience battling the virus as someone who suffers from chronic illness.

On Friday, the writer, actress and producer revealed she tested positive for COVID-19 in March after being “reluctant” to add her voice “to a noisy landscape on such a challenging topic.” Her early symptoms included achy joints, a high fever and “crushing fatigue.”

“Seeing the carelessness with which so many in the United States are treating social distancing … I feel compelled to be honest about the impact this illness has had on me, in the hopes that personal stories allow us to see the humanity in what can feel like abstract situations,” she wrote. “Suddenly my body simply… revolted. The nerves in my feet burned and muscles wouldn’t seem to do their job. My hands were numb. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises.

“I couldn’t sleep but I couldn’t wake up. I lost my sense of taste and smell. A hacking cough, like a metronome keeping time. Inability to breathe after simple tasks like getting a glass of water. Random red rashes. A pounding headache right between my eyes. It felt like I was a complex machine that had been unplugged and then had my wires rerouted into the wrong inputs. This went on for 21 days … that blended together like a rave gone wrong.”

Click here to read more coverage from Sunday

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No new cases of COVID-19 today – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
COVID-19/HEALTH/WELLNESS
*************************

As of today, August 3, Nova Scotia has two active cases of COVID-19. No new cases were identified on Sunday, August 2.

The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 215 Nova Scotia tests on August 2 and is operating 24-hours.

To date, Nova Scotia has 64,412 negative test results, 1,071 positive COVID-19 cases and 64 deaths. There are currently no people in hospital as a result of COVID-19. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

1005 cases are now resolved. Cases have been identified in all parts of the province. Cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama. 

If you have any one of the following symptoms, visit https://811.novascotia.ca to determine if you should call 811 for further assessment: 
— fever (i.e. chills, sweats)
— cough or worsening of a previous cough
— sore throat
— headache
— shortness of breath
— muscle aches
— sneezing
— nasal congestion/runny nose
— hoarse voice
— diarrhea
— unusual fatigue
— loss of sense of smell or taste
— red, purple or blueish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers without clear cause

When a new case of COVID-19 is confirmed, public health works to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with that person. Those individuals who have been confirmed are being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.

Anyone who has travelled outside of Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days. As always, any Nova Scotian who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better. 

It remains important for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health order and directives – practise good hand washing and other hygiene steps, maintain a physical distance when and where required. Wearing a non-medical mask is mandatory in most indoor public places. 

As of July 3, interprovincial travel within Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, without the requirement to self-isolate for permanent Atlantic Canadian residents, is permitted. All public health directives of each province must be followed. Under Nova Scotia’s Health Protection Act order, visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories must self-isolate for 14 days. Other visitors from outside the Atlantic provinces who have self-isolated for 14 days in another Atlantic province may travel to Nova Scotia without self-isolating again.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .

Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia .

Quick Facts:
— testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus 
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and extended to Aug. 9.

Additional Resources:
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus

Government of Canada information line 1-833-784-4397 (toll-free)

The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)

Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)

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