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California reports its first coronavirus death of a child as fatalities soar

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California health officials reported the state’s first coronavirus death of a child on Friday as the statewide tally of fatalities surpassed 9,000, saying the victim was a teenager who had other health conditions.

The teenager’s death occurred in the Central Valley, but officials at the state Department of Public Health released no other details, citing privacy rules. The Central Valley is the state’s major agricultural region and recently has become one of California’s hot spots for the virus.

It’s extremely rare for children to die of the coronavirus. As of mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 228 children had died of the disease in the U.S., less than 0.2% of the nation’s deaths at the time.

In California, more than 9,000 people have now died from the virus, and three-quarters were 65 and older. Only about 9% of California’s nearly half-million confirmed virus cases are children, and very few have suffered conditions serious enough for hospitalization, according to state data.

In March, Los Angeles County officials said a 17-year-old boy died of the virus. At the time it was believed to be the first death of a child, but days later local health officials walked back the initial finding, saying it was possible he died from something else. County health officials said the case would need to be evaluated by the Centers for Disease Control.

Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, said the boy from his city died from septic shock after being admitted to the hospital with respiratory issues.

How likely children are to contract and spread the virus is a key question as leaders in California and elsewhere determine if and how to safely reopen schools this fall. Most California counties are now on a state monitoring list because of rising virus cases and and may not reopen schools for in-person instruction until they are off the list for 14 days.

Statewide, 96 deaths were reported in the last day, according to figures released Friday. Cases are still increasing by the thousands each day, but the curve appears to be flattening. The average number of new cases per day over the past week was 8,322, compared to 9,881 in the previous week.

The average percentage of people testing positive dropped to 6.5% over the past seven days, compared to 7.2% over 14 days.

Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged more support for the Central Valley on Monday, including $52 million in federal money for eight counties to improve testing and find places for people to isolate or quarantine if they can’t do so at home. The eight counties, including Fresno and Kern, home to major cities, had positive test rates between 11% and 18% at the beginning of the week.

For many people, the coronavirus causes no symptoms and for others only mild or moderate illness, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and be fatal.

 

Source:- Globalnews.ca

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Parents, epidemiologists unsurprised by COVID cases in Sask. schools – CBC.ca

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Eight cases of COVID-19 have now been identified in Saskatchewan schools — the latest was found earlier this week at Valley Manor Elementary School in Martensville, Sask. 

However, a professor in the department of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, says this was to be expected as children returned to their classrooms this fall.

“I’m certainly not surprised,” said Dr. Cory Neudorf. “We’ve known right from the start that this pandemic tends to affect adults and older people more in terms of symptoms. And since a lot of the testing has been focused on people with symptoms and those wanting to go back to work, we haven’t had as much uptake in testing from children. 

“Now that we’re doing a little more testing in that age group, we expect to be finding a certain number of positives, both in terms of those who may have had mild symptoms and those with no symptoms at all.”

Professor Cory Neudorf, an epidemiologist from the University of Saskatchewan, says parents should take their children for a flu shot as soon as possible. (Saskatoonhealthregion.ca)

Janine Muyres’ three children attend City Park School in Saskatoon. For her, the transition to distance learning last winter was “kind of like having labour — when you’re in it, it’s hell, and when you’re out, you think ,’Well, that wasn’t so bad.'”

When Muyres found out her children could go back to their classrooms this fall, she was relieved to know that distance learning was off the table, at least for now. 

Janine Muyres (second from right) with her children Niko, Stella and Macy. (Submitted by Janine Muyres)

“I remember telling my coworkers, ‘I don’t care if the kids have to wear a HAZMAT suit, they’re going back to school,’ she said.

“I’d been hanging on all summer with my fingers crossed, thinking ‘It’s got to go back, because I can’t do that to my kids again. I can’t put them through that.’ 

“I was just so busy with work. I couldn’t watch over them and make sure their assignments were getting done.”

Flu season

With cold and flu season on the horizon, as well as fall allergies to contend with, Neudorf urged parents to take their children for flu shots as soon as possible and exercise caution when sending them to school with any health symptoms in the months ahead. 

“I can imagine it’s going to get very frustrating to have mild symptoms leading to multiple tests being done and disruptions to work and family life,” he said. “This is the short-term reality we’re in this year. 

“In the meantime, we do what we can with physical distancing, mask wearing, washing hands, using sanitizer and limiting your close circle of who you’re interacting with.”

For Neudorf, a case of COVID-19 in a school community can be a sign for administrators and public health officials to review their existing policies and question what could be done differently going forward. 

“Whenever we see cases in a school, that’s a chance to re-look and ask if there is anything we could have done differently in terms of screening, keeping kids home when they’re sick … and contact tracing,” he said.

“Every time there’s a case or a cluster, it’s time to look at that in the context of that school and say, is there anything we could be doing differently here? We’re essentially learning as we go.” 

Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, is concerned about how quickly teachers are being asked to change on a dime as the school year progresses. 

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation president Patrick Maze says teachers are still being reassigned to other positions. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

“From what I’m hearing, lots of teachers are kind of hanging by a thread and hoping that they can get through day to day at this point,” he said. “It is an unprecedentedly stressful time. 

“I have lots of members who have been told — this late into the month already — that they’re changing their positions, switching subjects or going to online learning. And we’re asking that teachers be patient and roll with the punches, but at some point, we get to the fact that it’s very difficult to change what you teach this late into September.”

Maze has commended school faculty and staff for their thorough implementation of COVID safety protocols, but believes large class sizes and after-school activities may still fuel in-school transmission. 

“Whether it’s practices or different events in the community, it’s a bit frustrating, because I know that schools have put in a tremendous amount of work to cohort students … and do block scheduling,” he said. “And that will all come undone if we continue to try to run things as normal in the evenings, as far as clubs and activities and events. So we’re hoping that the community can also do its part in order to help us keep the measures that have been put in place in schools to keep everyone safe.”

As for Muyres, she is working on sending her children out the door in the morning with a realistic perspective on this unique school year. 

“I tell my kids, we’re not going to live in fear,” she said.

“We’re not going to let this consume our life, and nobody’s going to develop anxiety over this. This is here, it’s happening right now, here’s what you can do to prevent it. And we’re just going to go ahead until otherwise directed by health officials.” 

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COVID-19 in Sask: Here's what we know ahead of the next update – CTV News

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REGINA —
Here’s what we know ahead of Saskatchewan’s next update on COVID-19 cases in the province.

SASKATCHEWAN CASES

Saskatchewan reported 10 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 146.

In a release, the province said six new cases are in Saskatoon, two are in Regina, one is in the far north east zone and one is in the central west zone.

Two of the new cases in Saskatoon are linked to a previously reported outbreak identified at Brandt Industries. To date, 19 cases have been connected to this cluster, the province said.

MOE REMINDS RESIDENTS TO KEEP GATHERINGS LOW

Premier Scott Moe says people should keep gathering sizes low to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, stressing they could face penalties if they don’t comply.

He said on Monday the vast majority of people are obeying the rules, but there have been some instances of individuals going out of bounds.

“We need to be careful,” Moe said during a press conference. “One infected person at the wrong place at the wrong time can turn into dozens of additional cases.”

The warnings come after a house gathering in Saskatoon caused cases to increase in that city.

SASK. RAMPING UP TESTING

The province announced on Tuesday it will be increasing testing in Saskatchewan, hoping to meet a goal of 4,000 tests per day.

Starting this week, Saskatchewan Health Authority labs will implement pooled testing of asymptomatic swabs.

This will allow labs to test more specimens with fewer testing materials and increase testing output, the SHA said in a news release.

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Sask. police visiting recent travellers to check compliance with mandatory self-isolation – CBC.ca

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Police in Saskatchewan are checking-up on people who are in mandatory self-isolation after returning from international travel.

Regina Police Service spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said Tuesday that police receive a daily list from the Saskatchewan Health Authority of people who have recently travelled. 

“We dispatch a police car to the home address to ensure that the person is in fact doing that mandatory 14-day isolation,” said Popowich. 

“And if they’re not, then we refer it back to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) for further action as per the public health order.” 

Saskatoon police and the RCMP are also doing visits to check on compliance with the provincial order, which states anyone who has travelled internationally must isolate for two weeks. 

People who are isolating are allowed to be outside on their own property, such as a backyard or balcony, and they can take solitary walks if they do not have symptoms. 

Non-compliance referred back to health authority

Popowich said police do not issue immediate fines if a person does not open the door. Instead, they report back to the SHA to follow up. 

CBC has contacted the SHA for more information about the police visits and who initiated them.

Regina and Saskatoon police have both been doing check-ups since April.

‘There are consequences’ 

Police could issue a fine if someone is found to be repeatedly violating isolation after multiple checkups, but Popowich said she is not aware of any such fines being issued so far.

She said there are some instances where people may not receive a visit from police, for example if there is a mistake in the address or if police receive the information late in the quarantine period.

“Don’t risk getting a fine. Certainly don’t risk potentially carrying an infection to someone who is not as easily able to handle the illness,” she said.

“Treat it as though you could be paid a visit if you’ve been out of the country and you’re not self-isolating. If you’re not, then there are consequences.”

Popowich said Regina police have enough resources to take on the role of checking compliance. 

“Those calls get dispatched at a time when typically our other call loads are lower,” she said. 

In April, a Regina woman who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 was fined $2,800 for allegedly not complying with the order to self-isolate.

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