The Canadian Press
The Latest on Week 17 in the NFL (all times EST):___7:40 p.m.The Tennessee Titans needed the game of Derrick Henry’s career and another big comeback to win their first AFC South title since 2008.They also needed a lucky bounce.Replacement kicker Sam Sloman banked a 37-yard field goal off the right upright as time expired Sunday to lift Tennessee past Houston 41-38. The Titans had to win with Indianapolis beating Jacksonville 28-14 or they would have have been a wild-card.The Titans had to rally after giving up 20 straight points to turn a blowout into a nail-biter. Houston tied it up at 38 with a field goal with 18 seconds left, setting up Tennessee’s latest rally for a win.Henry ran for a career-high 250 yards and became the eighth man to run for at least 2,000 yards in NFL history. He finished the season with 2,027 yards, the fifth-best rushing total in a season.The Titans now will host Baltimore, Indianapolis is going to Buffalo with Cleveland visiting Pittsburgh in the wild-card round for the AFC.Green Bay clinched home-field throughout in the NFC with a 35-16 win over Chicago. Arizona’s 18-7 loss to the Rams eliminated the Cardinals and allowed the Bears to clinch a wild-card spot in the NFC.The last berth still undecided is in the NFC. Washington can clinch the NFC East with a win over Philadelphia on Sunday night.___7:20 p.m.Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans now has the fifth-best rushing total in NFL history.Henry became the eighth man to run for at least 2,000 yards in league history midway through the fourth quarter, and he has a career-high 246 yards rushing against the Houston Texans. That gives him 2,023 yards for the season.That trails only Eric Dickerson (2,105 in 1984), Adrian Peterson (2,097 in 2012), Jamal Lewis (2,066 in 2003) and Barry Sanders (2,053 in 1997). O.J. Simpson ran for 2,003 yards in a 14-game season in 1973.Henry also has the franchise record, topping Chris Johnson who had 2,006 yards in 2009.___7:17 p.m.Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller caught pass No. 105 to break Tim Brown’s team record for receptions in a season.Waller etched his name in the record book with his 15-yard catch in the fourth quarter against Denver. Brown had the franchise record with 104 receptions in 1997.Earlier in the game, Waller became the first tight end in team history to turn in back-to-back seasons with 100 or more catches and 1,000 or more yards.___7:11 p.m.Jonathan Taylor has broken the Colts’ single-game rushing record.After scoring his second TD on a 45-yard run with 3:35 to go, giving the Colts a 28-14 lead over Jacksonville, Taylor now has 27 carries for 241 yards.His rushing total is 22 yards more than Edgerrin James had at Seattle in October 2004. James had the only other 200-yard game in franchise history, running 204 at Chicago in November 2004.Taylor also has broken Alan Ameche’s rokkie record, 194 yards, against Chicago on Sept. 25, 1955.Earlier in the game, Taylor become the first Indianapolis rookie to rush for 1,000 yards since Joseph Addai in 2006.___7:07 p.m.Derrick Henry has become the eighth man in NFL history to run for at least 2,000 yards in a single season.Henry came into Sunday’s regular season finale needing 223 yards rushing to become the second man in franchise history to reach 2,000. He came in as the NFL’s rushing leader for a second straight season with a career-best 1,777 yards rushing.The two-time Pro Bowl running back appeared ready to run for the 18 yards he needed for that mark late in the third quarter only to be stripped of the ball by Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham. Houston scored to pull within 31-28. The Texans scored 20 straight to go up 35-31.Henry ran for 6 yards on second-and-5 to give him 2,003 yards with 7:46 yards left, and he has time to add to that total.The Titans still need a win to grab their first AFC South title since 2008.___6:53 p.m.Justin Herbert has accounted for the most touchdowns by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.Herbert, the sixth overall pick by the Los Angeles Chargers in April’s draft, has four touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs (three passing, one rushing) as the Chargers have a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter.Herbert’s 48-yard TD throw to Mike Williams late in the third quarter was his 36th of the season. He has passed for 31 and had five rushing. Cam Newton had the previous mark with 35 for Carolina in 2011 (21 passing, 14 rushing).It is another in a series of rookie records for Herbert. Earlier in the game he surpassed Carson Wentz’s 379 completions with Philadelphia in 2016. He is also the youngest QB in NFL history to reach 30 passing TDs in a season at 22 years, 299 days.___6:50 p.m.Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs has gone over the 1,000-yard mark with a third-quarter run against Denver.It was his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. The only other Raiders running backs to accomplish that feat were Marcus Allen (1983-85) and Mark van Eeghen (1976-78).Jacobs rushed for 1,150 yards last season for the Raiders as a rookie out of Alabama.___6:46 p.m.Kyler Murray has returned at quarterback for Arizona early in the fourth quarter with the Cardinals trailing the Los Angeles Rams 18-7.Murray suffered an ankle injury during Arizona’s first possession. Chris Streveler directed the Cardinals to a touchdown on his first series, but the offence has been stuck in neutral since. Arizona went three-and-out on three of the next seven possessions.The Cardinals must win to get their first playoff berth since 2015.___6:30 p.m.The Panthers have benched starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater midway through the third quarter with Carolina trailing 19-7 after he threw his second interception in the end zone.His replacement, P.J. Walker, threw an interception on his first possession leading to a Saints touchdown run by Tayson Hill to make it 26-7.Both of Bridgewater’s interceptions were thrown into double coverage resulting in easy interceptions for the Saints. Bridgewater entered the game 15 touchdown passes and nine interceptions and was 13 of 23 for 176 yards on Sunday with no touchdowns and two picks.___6:15 p.m.Derrick Henry came into the Tennessee Titans’ regular season finale already assured of becoming the NFL’s first back-to-back rushing champ since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006-07.Now Henry is 88 yards away from making some more history.Henry came in with 1,777 yards rushing this season, and he now is 88 yards away from becoming the eighth man in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards.He has a pair of TD runs against Houston, one for 52 yards and a second for 6 yards putting him at 135 yards for the game. Henry ran for 212 and 211 yards in his past two games against the Texans.___6:05 p.m.John Wolford has shaken off his rocky opening series to produce a solid first half for the Los Angeles Rams as they close in on a playoff spot.Wolford passed for 125 yards and rushed for 47 in his first half of NFL action with the Rams, who led Arizona 12-7 at halftime after cornerback Troy Hill’s 84-yard interception return for a touchdown.Wolford went 13 of 23 in the first half, although his offence scored only three points. Cam Akers fumbled at the goal line to short-circuit its best drive, giving the Rams at least one turnover in every game this season.Arizona quarterback Chris Streveler and his offence can’t move the ball at all against the Rams’ No. 1-ranked defence, managing just 55 yards in the first half. The offence also gave up two points on a safety when Justin Pugh held A’Shawn Robinson in the end zone.The Rams will reach the playoffs for the third time in four years if they win or if Green Bay beats Chicago. The Cardinals must win to get their first playoff berth since 2015.___5:55 p.m.The Green Bay Packers are a half away from clinching the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a bye week for the playoffs.The Packers lead Chicago 21-13 at halftime, a loss that would eliminate the Bears from the playoffs.The Titans lead Houston 17-9 at halftime with NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry running for 113 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Henry is 110 yards shy of becoming the eighth man in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards. A win by the Titans clinches the AFC South for the first time since 2008.The Colts lead Jacksonville 20-7 at halftime needing a loss by Tennessee to win the division.The Los Angeles Rams lead Arizona 12-7 at halftime. The Rams need a win or a Chicago loss to clinch an NFC wild-card berth. Arizona needs a win or a Chicago loss to grab a playoff berth.___5:50 p.m.The Saints don’t have Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray due to the running back tandem being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list earlier this week. The Saints still lead the Panthers 16-7 at halftime.Drew Brees has completed 13 of 16 passes for 114 yards, including touchdown tosses of 18 yards to Jared Cook and 8 yards to Emmanuel Sanders. For Cook, it marked the fourth straight game he has scored against Carolina.The Saints have an outside shot to win the NFC’s top seed if they beat the Panthers, the Packers lose and the Seahawks win.___5:50 p.m.Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has been knocked from the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the final minute of the first half by a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from safety Juan Thornhill.Ekeler was bobbling a pass over the middle when the crown of Thornhill’s helmet colliding with his face mask.Ekeler lay on the turf for several minutes, surrounded by teammates and trainers, before he walked off the field on his own. Thornhill was given a personal foul penalty for the helmet-to-helmet hit.___5:45 p.m.The Seattle Seahawks have a 6-3 halftime lead over the San Francisco 49ers after Jason Myers connected on field goals from 36 and 30 yards.The Seahawks are in the running for the No. 1 overall seed and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, but they must beat the 49ers and hope the Packers lose and the Saints lose or tie.Seattle had two promising drives bog down in the red zone during the first half. Russell Wilson has completed 11 of 19 passes for 101 yards.San Francisco’s third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard is making his second straight start. He’s 8 for 13 for 67 yards, one week after helping the 49ers beat the Cardinals 20-12.The 49ers are playing their third straight “home” game in Arizona because of coronavirus restrictions in their home county. San Francisco lost the first two games.___5:09 p.m.The Green Bay Packers have set an NFL season record for second-quarter points.Aaron Rodgers threw a 3-yard touchdown to Robert Tonyan on the first play of the period against the Chicago Bears, giving the Packers 205 second-quarter points this season. The New England Patriots had the NFL record for second-quarter points in a season with 199 in 2007, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.Rodgers also matched a career-high with his 45th touchdown pass.___5:09 p.m.DK Metcalf has set the Seattle Seahawks single-season record for yards receiving, a mark that had stood for 35 years.Metcalf surpassed Hall of Famer Steve Largent’s franchise record on his second reception on Sunday against San Francisco.Largent set the record of 1,287 yards in 1985. Metcalf entered the day six yards shy of Largent’s mark and set the new record with consecutive catches of 5 and 4 yards in the second quarter.Tyler Lockett also went over 1,000 yards for the season on a 26-yard catch to start the second quarter. It’s the second time in franchise history the Seahawks have two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. Joey Galloway and Brian Blades accomplished the feat in 1995.Lockett just caught his 95th pass of the season, which is also a franchise record. Bobby Engram and Doug Baldwin had the previous mark with 94.___4:55 p.m.Kyler Murray has hurt his ankle, and Chris Streveler led the Arizona Cardinals to a touchdown on his first drive against the Los Angeles Rams.Murray was in for the first series and had 14 yards of offence (7 rushing, 7 passing) before the Cardinals were forced to punt near midfield. Arizona quickly got it back when Jordan Hicks intercepted John Wolford’s pass at the Rams 20 and returned it 6 yards.Streveler, who had never thrown a pass in an NFL game, was 2 for 2 for 14 yards giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.Murray is questionable to return. Arizona needs to win or have Chicago lose to Green Bay to clinch a playoff berth.___4:53 p.m.It’s a second straight 100-catch season for Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller with his two grabs in the first quarter against Denver.Waller becomes the first tight end in team history to turn in back-to-back seasons with 100 or more catches and 1,000 or more yards.He moved five catches away from breaking Tim Brown’s franchise record for most catches in a single season. Brown caught 104 passes in 1997.___4:45 p.m.The Kansas City Chiefs rested many of their starters to guard against injuries with the AFC’s top seed already secured, only to lose second-round draft pick Willie Gay when the linebacker hurt his ankle on their third defensive play.The injury left the Chiefs with only two healthy linebackers in Damien Wilson and Darrius Harris. Anthony Hitchens is on the COVID-19 list and Ben Niemann is inactive with a hamstring injury.Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins are among the other players inactive for Kansas City.___4:41 p.m.Indianapolis quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown his 421st touchdown pass to break a tie with Hall of Famer Dan Marino for No. 5 on the NFL’s all-time list.It came on a 6-yard scoring play to T.Y. Hilton with 10:16 left in the first quarter to give Indy a 7-0 lead over Jacksonville.Marino retired as the career record-holder for TD passes following the 1999 season.For Hilton, it was career TD catch No. 50 and tied him with the late Jimmy Orr for fourth on the Colts’ career list. Orr died in October. The only players ahead of Hilton on the franchise list are Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (128), Reggie Wayne (82) and Hall of Famer Raymond Berry (68).Rivers needs 10 more passing attempts to pass Eli Manning (8,119) for No. 6 in NFL history.Hilton and the 39-year-old Rivers both have expiring contracts after this season.___4:40 p.m.The Chicago Bears averted a disaster against the Green Bay Packers on the opening kickoff.Barely.Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby sent the kick toward the sideline, and Chicago returner Cordarrelle Patterson appeared to down the ball at the 1 as he slipped. But the officials ruled he was out of bounds when he touched it, giving the Bears the ball at their 40.The Packers challenged the ruling, but the play was upheld.Green Bay is looking to clinch the top seed for the NFC playoffs with its sixth consecutive victory. Chicago secures a playoff spot with a win.___4:20 p.m.The Baltimore Ravens are in the playoffs again, and the Cleveland Browns ended lengthy drought between berths by earning their first post-season trip since 2002.The Ravens earned a possible trip to Tennessee in the wild-card round by routing Cincinnati 38-3. Cleveland had to hold off Pittburgh 24-22 to grab its wild-card spot.The Titans clinched a playoff berth with Buffalo routing Miami 56-26, which left the Dolphins needing an Indianapolis loss to Jacksonville to salvage their playoff hopes. The Bills earned the No. 2 seed in the AFC.Tennessee has its third playoff spot in four seasons. A Tennessee win in Houston would give Tennessee its first AFC South title since 2008 and the AFC’s No. 4 seed.Dallas had a chance to keep its hopes alive until Sunday night if the Cowboys could beat the Giants while needing a loss by Washington in the final game of the season. But the Giants intercepted Andy Dalton in the end zone with 1:15 left and pulled out a 23-19 victory.Now it’s the Giants waiting to see if Philadelphia loses to Washington to make New York the first six-win team to make the playoffs in a 16-game regular season as the NFC East champs.The NFC still has three berths up for grabs along with Green Bay needing a win over Chicago or a loss by Seattle to San Francisco to clinch the No. 1 seed and first-round bye.___3:22 p.m.Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has matched a single-season franchise record with his 10th interception.Howard picked off Buffalo Bills backup Matt Barkley in the third quarter.With the interception, Howard matched the record set by Dick Westmoreland in 1967. He also became the NFL’s first player to have 10 interceptions in one season since Antonio Cromartie had that many with the Chargers in 2007.Buffalo leads Miami 35-13 late in the third quarter.___2:45 p.m.Daniel Jones and the New York Giants are rolling toward the brink of playoff history.The 5-10 Giants lead Dallas 20-9 at halftime of a game that could decide the NFC East — the winner will claim the division if Washington loses against Philadelphia later Sunday. The Cowboys would also make the playoffs with a win and a Washington tie.New York would be the first six-win team to make the playoffs in a 16-game regular season — and after a 1-7 start no less.The Giants’ 31st-ranked offence outgained Dallas 239-113 in the first half. Jones threw for 150 yards and two TDs, including a 33-yarder to Dante Pettis with 45 seconds left.A week after gaining 513 yards in a 37-17 win over Philadelphia, the Cowboys were a mess offensively early. Andy Dalton misfired on a number of passes, perhaps struggling with his grip on a chilly day in New Jersey, and New York sacked him three times.Dallas got the ball moving late, with 79 coming on its final two drives, leading to two Greg Zuerlein field goals, including a 57-yarder as the half expired.___2:30 p.m.The Buffalo Bills are doing their best to clinch the No. 2 seed and end Miami’s playoff hopes at the same time.The Bills lead Miami 28-6 at halftime with Josh Allen throwing three touchdowns. Buffalo is so in control of this game that wide receiver Stefon Diggs was caught flossing on the sideline, practicing dental hygiene rather than the dance.A Miami loss leaves the Dolphins rooting for Jacksonville to snap a 14-game skid by beating Indianapolis to get into the post-season.Baltimore has a 17-3 lead over Cincinnati early in the third quarter needing a win to grab one of the AFC’s four playoff berths still available when the final day began. Cleveland is up 10-6 on Pittsburgh needing a victory for the Browns’ first playoff berth since 2002.The NFC had three playoff berths available on the final day.The Giants lead Dallas 20-9 at halftime, and a New York win eliminates the Cowboys. The Giants then will be waiting and watching to see if Philadelphia can beat Washington to grab the NFC East title.___2:35 p.m.The Detroit Lions have given up a franchise-record 6,496 yards of offence through the first half while trailing Minnesota 21-16.Fittingly, they broke the record set by their 2008 winless team when two defenders missed a tackle while safety Duron Harmon stood and watched Chad Beebe score on a go-ahead, 40-yard touchdown catch.___2:20 p.m.Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie has scored three touchdowns, including one on an 84-yard punt return, to put Buffalo up 21-3 over the Miami Dolphins with 5:22 remaining in the second quarter.McKenzie also scored on 7 and 14-yard touchdown catches in a game the that means far more for the Dolphins, who need a win to secure their third playoff berth in 18 years.McKenzie became Buffalo’s sixth player to score an offensive touchdown and on a return in the same game. The punt-return TD was the Bills’ first since Marcus Thigpen scored against Green Bay on Dec. 14, 2014.McKenzie’s 3-score game comes after teammate Stefon Diggs scored three times in a 38-9 win at New England on Monday night.— John Wawrow reporting from Orchard Park, New York.___2:20 p.m.Matt Prater now has the NFL record for most field goals made of 50 yards or longer.Prater made a 54-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to give Detroit a 16-14 lead over Minnesota. It was his 59th field goal from 50-plus yards, breaking a tie with Sebastian Janikowski who made 58 from that range between 2000 and 2018.___1:53 p.m.Josh Allen has set the Buffalo Bills’ single-season record for yards passing.Allen upped his total to 4,363 with a 6-yard completion to Devin Singletary on the opening play of the second quarter in Buffalo’s game against Miami. The third-year starter topped the mark of 4,359 yards set by Drew Bledsoe in 2002. No other Bills player has topped 4,000.Allen finished the drive with 7-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah McKenzie to put Buffalo up 7-3. That increased his season total to 4,396 yards passing. The touchdown was his 35th passing of the season, extending the single-season record he set last weekend.Allen has gone 9 of 13 for 76 yards with a touchdown and interception in three series.Buffalo can grab the No. 2 seed in the AFC with a victory or a Steelers loss, and the Bills can fall no further than No. 3.— John Wawrow reporting from Orchard Park, New York.___1:35 p.m.Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans limped off the field late in the first quarter of the Buccaneers’ regular season finale against the Atlanta Falcons.Evans appeared to hurt his left knee trying to catch a throw to the end zone from Tom Brady, slipping on the turf. The injury occurred one play after Evans made a 20-yard reception that made him the first player in NFL history to begin a career with seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.The receiver was eventually helped to feet and limped toward the tunnel to the locker with assistance from a trainer.___1:30 p.m.The Baltimore Ravens scored on their first two drives against the Cincinnati Bengals to take a 10-0 first-quarter lead.A Justin Tucker field-goal capped the first Baltimore drive, and then Lamar Jackson threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Miles Boykin to extend the lead.The Ravens can clinch a wild-card playoff spot with a win over the Bengals.Bengals rookie receiver Tee Higgins injured his left hamstring on a pass play that was negated because of an offensive pass interference penalty on Cincinnati’s first drive. His return is questionable.___1:15 p.m.Cam Newton could be playing his final game in New England, but he has earned a place in the franchise’s record book.Newton’s 49-yard run on the Patriots’ opening drive Sunday against the Jets was the longest by a quarterback in franchise history. Steven Grogan held the previous record, twice posting 41-yard runs.With the run Newton also passed Grogan for the single-season team record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Newton entered the game 26 yards behind Grogan, who had 539 rushing yards in 1978.The Patriots’ drive ended with a 7-yard TD pass from Newton to James White to put the Patriots in front 7-0.— Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.___1:15 p.m.Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb went over 1,000 yards with style.The Pro Bowler broke free on a 47-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers to eclipse 1,000 yards for the second straight season. The Browns will make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 with a win.Chubb, who rushed for 1,494 yards last season, missed four games earlier this season with a sprained right knee.As a rookie, Chubb went over 1,000 yards before he was thrown for a loss late in the season finale and finished with 996.___12:10 p.m.The Tennessee Titans will be trying to win their first AFC South title in 12 years without a defensive lineman.Tennessee placed rookie Teair Tart on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday hours before playing in Houston needing a victory over the Texans (4-11) to clinch the division. Tart has played seven games this season and got his first start last week in a loss at Green Bay.The Titans also will be without four-time Pro Bowl kicker Stephen Gostkowski who was placed on the COVID-19 list Monday. But three-time punter Brett Kern was activated off that list Saturday and will be available Sunday.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLThe Associated Press
Six cases of new UK variant of COVID-19 confirmed at Roberta Place LTC home in Barrie – Newstalk 1010 (iHeartRadio)
Simcoe-Muskoka health officials say another case of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the region.
The person infected – who did not travel abroad – was reportedly in close contact with someone who contracted the virus during the recent outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community.
Since January 14, six residents and three staff members there, have tested positive for COVID-19.
Health officials are investigating to see if the other cases are also tied to the U.K. variant.
They also reported that this seventh person in the region infected with the new strain of the virus, works at a retail outlet in Simcoe County. Officials did not provide the name of the store, but say it offered curbside pickup only. We have also earned that two other people associated with the retailer tested positive for the coronavirus.
As NEWSTALK 1010 first told you yesterday, the region confirmed six cases of the new U.K. variant at another long term care home – Roberta Place, in Barrie, Ontario. The home has been reeling from a deadly outbreak in recent weeks.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said genome sequencing on six COVID-19 samples from Roberta Place Retirement Lodge have been identified as the highly contagious variant.
Officials with the local health unit announced earlier this week that they had found a variant at the home and were conducting tests to determine what it was.
On Saturday, NEWSTALK 1010 learned that 127 of the 129 residents at the home, as well as 84 staff, have tested positive for the virus. At least 32 deaths have been reported there, up from 29 reported Friday.
“The rapid spread, high attack rate and the devastating impact on residents and staff at Roberta Place long-term care home has been heartbreaking for all,” Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said in a statement Saturday.
“Confirmation of the variant, while expected, does not change our course of action. We remain diligent in doing everything we can to prevent further spread.”
Speaking to the media Saturday afternoon, Gardner noted officials have no reason not to believe all the residents are infected with this new variant.
Known variant strains of the virus were first detected in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil.
An outbreak at Roberta Place was first declared on Jan. 8.
With nearly half of the the facility’s employees now self-isolating at home with the virus, additional help has been brought in from local hospitals and the Red Cross.
Meantime, CBC News is reporting that an employee, who brought COVID-19 to Roberta Place will not face charges. In a tweet, the CBC says the medical officer of health confirms that a staff member did travel, but there’s no evidence that the employee failed to quarantine, noting that person was asymptomatic when they returned to work.
The health unit, in partnership with the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, said it accelerated its immunization program on Friday and vaccinated all eligible residents and staff.
Officials said they planned to immunize residents at the other retirement homes throughout Simcoe Muskoka over the weekend.
As of Jan. 16, eligible residents of all long-term care facilities in Simcoe Muskoka have also received their first dose of immunization against COVID-19.
Ontario reported 2,359 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 52 more deaths related to the virus.
That was down marginally from Friday’s figures of 2,662 new cases and 87 more deaths. There was also a slight drop in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 1,501 reported on Saturday – 11 fewer than Friday.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said Saturday there were 708 new cases in Toronto, 422 in Peel Region, 220 in York Region, 107 in Hamilton and 101 in Ottawa.
Since the province’s report on Friday, nearly 63,500 tests had been completed and 11,161 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered in Ontario.
As of Saturday, a total of 276,146 doses have been administered in Ontario.
On Saturday the Ontario government also announced it’s expanding its “inspection blitz” of big-box stores to ensure they’re following COVID-19 guidelines this weekend.
The workplace inspections, which started in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas last weekend, will now stretch out to Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham regions.
Officials want to ensure workers and customers at the essential businesses are properly protected from COVID-19 during the provincewide shutdown.
The blitz was developed in consultation with local health units and also covers a variety of other workplaces, including retail establishments and restaurants providing take-out meals.
The province’s labour ministry says more than 300 offences officers, as well as local public health inspectors and municipal bylaw officers, will conduct the inspections.
Corporations can now be fined $1,000, and individuals can be fined $750 or charged for failing to comply with the orders.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said the province is confident that the majority of workplaces in Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham are following orders.
“However, if we find that businesses are putting the safety of workers and customers at risk, our government will not hesitate to take immediate action,” McNaughton added in a statement.
“The only way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and end the provincewide shutdown is for everyone – owners, customers and staff alike – to follow the proper guidelines.”
With files from The Canadian Press
Moderna shot protects against new virus variants; higher blood thinner dose keeps patients off ventilators
By Nancy Lapid
(Reuters) – The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Moderna vaccine protects against new variants
The COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc protects against the new virus variants found in Britain and South Africa, researchers reported on Monday on bioRxiv ahead of peer review. They found no reduction in the effect of vaccine-induced antibodies on the UK variant. They did see significantly reduced effectiveness of the antibodies on the South Africa variant, although Moderna still believes its two-dose vaccine will provide protection. The company said it will test a new booster shot aimed at the South Africa variant that could be made available if necessary. Dr. Paul Offit of the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel, said he was only mildly concerned that the vaccine would not protect against the variants. “It is a little worrisome that you see a lesser neutralizing antibody response,” he said, but even these lower levels may still be enough to protect against serious infections. “The goal of this vaccine is to keep you out of the hospital and to keep you out of the morgue. If you get a symptomatic infection or mildly symptomatic infection that is not a burden to the healthcare system,” Offit said. (https://bit.ly/3ocFUBD; https://reut.rs/2Mj0Z06)
Full-dose blood thinners help keep patients off ventilators
A trio of trials has found that giving full-dose blood thinning treatments to moderately ill patients hospitalized for COVID-19 reduced their need for vital organ support, such as mechanical ventilation, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on Friday. Blood clotting is a serious problem in COVID-19. The three trials, conducted at more than 300 hospitals on four continents, tested whether there is a greater benefit to administering a full dose of the blood thinner heparin compared to the lower dose typically used to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients. In December, the researchers reported that the higher dose was harmful in patients already on life support. The new data show “that when we give higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill, it is beneficial and should become standard of care,” study leader Matthew Neal of the University of Pittsburgh said in a statement. The researchers said the cheap, readily available treatment could help reduce the burden on intensive care units. The trials also suggest a possible survival benefit with full-dose heparin in patients not yet on life support, but that needs further study, the NIH said. The agency has not released the complete study data. (https://bit.ly/39j1BMp)
Lifetime smoking history linked with COVID-19 death risk
Former smokers who have quit still face higher risks from COVID-19 than never-smokers, a new study shows. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Health System in Ohio and Florida studied 7,102 COVID-19 patients, including 6,020 never smokers, 910 former smokers, and 172 current smokers. The risk of hospitalization and death went up with the cumulative amount patients had ever smoked and the increases in risk were similar for current smokers and former smokers, researchers found. Those who had smoked the most – the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for at least 15 years – had 2.25 times higher odds of hospitalization and were 89% more likely to die following a COVID-19 diagnosis when compared with never smokers, the researchers reported on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Lifetime tobacco smoking history is therefore linked with risk for hospital admission and death from COVID-19, the research team concluded, adding that illnesses typically linked with smoking, like heart and lung diseases, probably contributed to those poorer outcomes. (https://bit.ly/3caMeHu)
One-in-three with COVID-19 may not know it
At least one third of people infected with the highly contagious coronavirus may not realize it, a new report warns. Some of them are “presymptomatic,” meaning they have no symptoms but will eventually develop them. Others will remain asymptomatic for the duration of their infection. “Infection without symptoms … is important because infected persons can transmit the virus to others even if they have no symptoms,” the researchers said on Friday in Annals of Internal Medicine. They analyzed data from 43 studies that used gold-standard PCR testing to diagnose COVID-19 and 18 that used antibody testing to look for evidence of previous infection. These studies “provide compelling evidence that the asymptomatic fraction of SARS-CoV-2 infection is sizable,” they said. The researchers called for new strategies to control the spread of the virus, such as “inexpensive, rapid home tests to identify and contain presymptomatic or asymptomatic cases, along with government programs that provide financial assistance and, if necessary, housing to enable infected persons to isolate themselves.” It will be important to know whether vaccines are preventing asymptomatic infections, they said. (https://bit.ly/3oiHFNG)
Open https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.
(Reporting by Nancy Lapid, Manas Mishra and Caroline Humer; Editing by Bill Berkrot)
Spain’s COVID-19 infections hit new high as regions double down on measures
MADRID (Reuters) – Spain reported a record 93,822 new coronavirus infections over the weekend, while the two-week average jumped to a new high of 885 cases per 100,000 people on Monday as regional authorities scrambled to ramp up restrictions.
Infections now total 2,593,382, while the death toll increased by 767 to 56,208, health ministry data showed.
“Spain is not doing well and we have to be aware of it,” Health Emergency Coordinator Fernando Simon told a news briefing.
Simon stressed that further measures would be needed for transmission to fall quickly and ease pressure on intensive care units after weeks of gradual tightening have failed to tame a rampant third wave.
He said the highly contagious variant of the virus first detected in Britain was not responsible for the surge and only accounted for around 5% of current infections, although it could become the dominant variant by March.
With Spain’s 14-day incidence of the virus more than tripling from a month ago, regions have raced to curb infections – although national law bars them from imposing the harshest restrictions like home confinement.
Health Minister Salvador Illa, meanwhile confirmed he would step aside to run for election in Catalonia after leading Spain’s response to the pandemic.
Regional Policy Minister Carolina Darias, who has worked closely with Illa, is most likely to step in, a source close to the government said. Illa’s replacement will be announced on Tuesday, the prime minister’s office said.
The regions brought in a range of restrictions. Galicia imposed limited people to socialising only with members of their own household and ordered non-essential businesses to close at 6 p.m. for three weeks.
Regional leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo urged citizens to stay at home from 8 p.m.
Valencia and Murcia banned gatherings of more than two people. Madrid will bring forward a curfew by an hour to 10 p.m. and deploy drones and extra police to ensure compliance.
“It’s terrible because things were getting better, people were going out, but this is creating fear again,” said Baldomore Curas, manager of a bar in central Madrid.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Inti Landauro, Belen Carreno, Nathan Allen, Joan Faus, Elena Rodriguez and Michael Gore; Writing by Nathan Allen and Joan Faus; Editing by Alison Williams and Giles Elgood)
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