The United States has quickly become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 2,500 Americans have lost their lives due to the illness since the pandemic broke out, according to Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 143,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of Sunday night, more than China or Italy.
Simply by virtue of its size — the U.S. has 8.7 times as many people as Canada — the country was all but destined to have many more cases than Canada.
But the outbreak has gone far beyond that.
COVID-19 has brought the hardest-hit state of New York to a standstill. More than 1,000 people have died. Despite having a little over half the Canadian population, New York has more than 59,500 cases.
That’s more than nine times as many as Canada, which has about 7,405 confirmed cases, including 74 deaths.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said worst-case scenario projections show New York would require 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators in order to handle the peak of the outbreak.
Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says deaths from COVID-19 in New York could be in the thousands
What went wrong in the U.S. — and what was different in Canada?
While there have been widespread concerns about the availability of coronavirus testing in both countries, U.S. officials have faced sharp criticism for not making tests widely available until far too long after the virus arrived from China early this year.
A report in the New York Times concluded the failure was due to several factors, including technical issues, bureaucracy and a “lack of leadership at multiple levels.”
“The result was a lost month, when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread. Instead, Americans were left largely blind to the scale of a looming public health catastrophe,” stated the report, which was based on 50 interviews.
Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said the severity of the novel coronavirus was “largely ignored” by the U.S. government until there was already community spread.
“We were very slow to to prohibit travel into this country from China or regions in that area where the virus was circulating,” said Offit. “When we finally did that, it was too late.”
The country’s pandemic preparedness plan — put together in response to the 2005 H1N1 virus by Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci — was also scrapped by the Trump administration, which Offit said left the U.S. ill-prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak.
By comparison, Canada’s leaders from multiple levels and political parties have called on Canadians to self-isolate and physically distance themselves to contain the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asks Canadians to be ‘part of the solution’
The country’s strategy to deal with this pandemic has been adapted from its influenza preparedness plan, which was updated in 2018.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also consistently deferred to the “advice of health professionals” in his daily press conferences to inform Canada’s approach.
Experts who spoke with Global News said a number of factors are driving the stark differences between how the pandemic is unfolding in Canada and the U.S.
One of the big ones is how Canada’s provinces have been able to work together on a response, said Stephen Hoption Cann, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.
“What we’ve seen through this spreading pandemic is that there’s a lot of co-ordination on quarantine measures and closures from one province to the next, whereas you see the U.S., the 50 states — there’s quite large differences in what’s happening from one state to the next.”
The provinces have also been able to quickly ramp up testing, Hoption Cann said. As of Monday, more than 220,000 COVID-19 tests have been carried out in Canada.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have yet to release comprehensive numbers of Americans tested for COVID-19, but the COVID Tracking Project — a system run by data professionals that tallies every coronavirus test conducted in the U.S. — lists the total at around 850,000.
There’s also the differing structures of the health-care systems, he said. Canadians can access care without costs or insurance claims. And while some U.S. insurers have announced they’ll waive copay fees for testing, for example, there remain significant financial barriers in the system.
Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo pleads for healthcare workers across the U.S. to help New York
In New York City, high population density and social determinants of health such as income and housing are factors, according to Cynthia Carr, epidemiologist and owner of EPI Research in Winnipeg.
“You have people living in very overcrowded apartments and living situations, and those people will be at even higher risk,” she said.
The city has nearly 33,500 cases of the novel coronavirus and 776 deaths.
While there has been a large number in cases, Carr said the death rate in the city appears to be on par with other areas.
“The mortality rate, just like Canada, is still very much on the low side,” she said.
Sarah Albrecht, a social epidemiologist and assistant professor at Columbia University, added to this.
She said the city’s status as a travel hub for international and domestic tourism makes it particularly vulnerable when faced with a pandemic.
“In many ways, it’s what makes NYC a unique and exciting place,” Albrecht said.
“But when it comes to infectious diseases, the population density — having people so close together — is what makes it easy for them to take hold, and to spread so quickly.”
Coronavirus outbreak: New York’s Central Park converted into emergency field hospital for COVID-19 patients
The population density in New York City more than doubles that of major cities like Toronto, with 10,935 people per square kilometre, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Comparatively, figures from Statistics Canada in 2016 showed that Toronto had a population density of 4,334 people per square kilometre.
New York City also has large pockets of marginalized populations, who Albrecht said are at an even higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and experiencing more severe disease.
That state’s hospitals are not fully equipped for the pandemic outbreak, which Albrecht said could also be a factor.
Personal protective equipment like surgical masks and gowns that repel fluid are in short supply across the country, she said.
Albrecht added New York’s lack of ventilators has also put doctors in the “awful” position of having to decide which patients will have access to a ventilator and which will be forced to go without life-saving equipment.
In an email to Global News, Charles Branas, chair of the department of epidemiology at Columbia, said “extreme, unprecedented measures are being taken, like building ICU beds in a tented hospital in Central Park.”
Government departments working together to obtain and manufacture PPE supplies: Bains
The situation is much less dire in Canada, which has set aside more than $11 billion to combat the virus.
Provinces that were hit hardest during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak had ventilators stockpiled in case of emergency.
Ontario, which was hit hardest by the SARS pandemic, said Friday it had approximately 3,250 ventilators that were ready to be deployed.
As previously reported by Global News, the province of British Columbia has 1,272 ventilators, while Nova Scotia, who began tapping the private sector for supplies last week, reportedly has 240 ventilators and another 140 on order.
The Alberta government said it has 477 with another 50 on order while Manitoba health officials told reporters they had 243 ventilators with another 20 on order.
Saskatchewan has 91 adult ventilators for critical care, 80 additional subacute ventilators and 250 additional ventilators ordered.
Newfoundland and Labrador officials said they have 156 ventilators. Prince Edward Island has 19, with 15 on order.
Nunavut has the least amount of ventilators available at seven, but officials said all intensive care patients are transported out of the territory to be treated.
Trudeau promises “millions more items” of protective gear
Paul-Émile Cloutier, president of HealthCareCAN, said in earlier interview with Global News that as long as the outbreak doesn’t worsen and overwhelm Canada’s health care system, provinces should have enough ventilators to meet their current needs.
If that were to happen, Cloutier, whose group represents health care organizations and hospitals, said Canada may find it difficult to find suppliers able to meet a sudden influx in demand for supplies.
“If there was a surge of patients coming through to which they would need to be hospitalized, then you may have a shortage of ventilators,” he said.
“Their issue is where would you get them?”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Trump decries ‘lowlifes’ and racism in Canada; In The News for June 3 – CityNews Toronto
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 3 …
American anti-racism protests …
Undeterred by curfews, protesters streamed back into the nation’s streets Tuesday, hours after President Donald Trump pressed governors to put down the violence set off by George Floyd’s death and demanded that New York call up the National Guard to stop the “lowlifes and losers.”
But most protests passed peacefully, and while there were scattered reports of looting in New York City, the country appeared calmer by late Tuesday than it did a day earlier, when violence swept through multiple cities.
The president, meanwhile, amplified his hard-line calls from Monday, when he threatened to send in the military to restore order if governors didn’t do it.
“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD,” he tweeted. “The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!”
One day after a crackdown on peaceful protesters near the White House, thousands of demonstrators massed a block away from the presidential mansion, facing law enforcement personnel standing behind a black chain-link fence. The fence was put up overnight to block access to Lafayette Park, just across the street from the White House.
“Last night pushed me way over the edge,” said Jessica DeMaio, 40, of Washington, who attended a Floyd protest Tuesday for the first time. “Being here is better than being at home feeling helpless.”
The crowd remained in place after the city’s 7 p.m. curfew passed, defying warnings that the response from law enforcement could be even more forceful. But the protest lacked the tension of the previous nights’ demonstrations. The crowd Tuesday was peaceful, even polite. At one point, the crowd booed when a protester climbed a light post and took down a street sign. A chant went up: “Peaceful protest!”
COVID-19 in Canada …
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will continue today to make the case for a co-ordinated global response to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s poorest countries.
He’ll be among the leaders and heads of state to deliver remarks during a virtual summit of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).
Among other things, he is expected to promise that Canada will partner with developing countries, which stand to be the hardest hit by the pandemic, and help to rally the world behind measures like debt relief to help them survive the crisis.
That is similar to the message Trudeau delivered last week while co-hosting a major United Nations summit, alongside UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Without a global co-ordinated recovery plan, the UN estimates the pandemic could slash nearly US$8.5 trillion from the world economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year and potentially 130 million more over the course of the decade.
While no country has escaped the economic ravages of the deadly novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, developing countries, already in debt distress before the pandemic, cannot afford the kinds of emergency benefits and economic stimulus measures undertaken in wealthy, industrialized countries like Canada.
And this …
Nova Scotia’s largest nursing home is planning for a future of private rooms to keep residents safe, but it has taken a wrenching pandemic death toll to create the shift — and it remains unclear whether government will fund a long-term fix.
“We’re currently down to fewer than 25 rooms with shared accommodations at the Halifax campus,” Janet Simm, the Northwood facility’s chief executive, said in a recent interview.
That’s a huge shift from before the pandemic when more than 240 residents lived in two- or three-person units. Now, fewer than 50 people remain in the shared spaces, some of whom are couples or others who specifically request a roommate, Simm said.
But the facility’s desire to create more space, which its board sought for years before the pandemic, unfolded through tragedy rather than design.
COVID-19 illnesses spread among the 485 residents after asymptomatic workers brought the virus there in early April, and Simm says the bulk of the 53 who had died, as of Tuesday, and the 240 infected were in shared units.
COVID-19 in sports …
Khari Jones doesn’t have to look far for a reminder that racism exists in Canada.
The Montreal Alouettes head coach divulged during a teleconference Tuesday he received death threats while he was the quarterback of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers because of his interracial marriage. Jones is black and his wife, Justine, is white.
An emotional Jones — speaking just over a week after a white policeman kneeled on the neck of a black man, resulting in a tragic death in Minneapolis — said the threats came in the form of letters that remain in his possession.
“It’s just a reminder you always have to be on alert a little bit,” Jones said. “It could’ve been one person but one is still too many and to do that on the basis of a person’s skin colour is horrible.
“Every once in a while, every blue moon I take a look at them. They never found the person who wrote the letters — he used a fake name — but he’s still out there, people like him are still out there. That was 20-something years ago and it’s still happening.”
Interest rate announcement looms …
The Bank of Canada is expected to keep its key interest rate unchanged this morning on the first day of governor Tiff Macklem’s tenure.
Economists expect the central bank will maintain its target for the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent, which former governor Stephen Poloz has repeatedly said is as low as it can go.
Poloz and the bank’s governing council would have met over the past few days and finalized the rate decision last night.
Macklem likely would have been part of the meetings, but it’s unlikely that the language of the rate announcement will fully capture his views.
Instead of focusing on the rate itself, experts say they will be paying close attention to the language used in the rate announcement about the expected path for the economy in the coming weeks and months.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020
The Canadian Press
Canada’s daily coronavirus death toll surges from day prior as 705 new cases reported – Globalnews.ca
The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Canada more than doubled from the day prior, with 69 lives reported taken on Tuesday.
A further 705 new cases of COVID-19 were also identified across Canada as the country moved into its second week of daily cases ranging below the 1,000 mark.
Tuesday’s numbers brings Canada’s total lab-confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths to 92,399 and 7,395, respectively.
Of those total cases, over 50,000 people have recovered from the virus. Canada-wide coronavirus tests have also surpassed 1.8 million.
Ontario, which reported 446 new cases surpassed the total reported by Quebec at 239 for the second straight day however.
Until Monday, Quebec was generally considered the epicentre of Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak as both daily reported cases and deaths within the province topped the country over the course of the pandemic.
Both cases and deaths within the eastern province account for more than half of Canada’s totals.
Several other provinces have also announced new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday.
Coronavirus around the world: June 2, 2020
British Columbia reported only four new cases of the virus, whereas Alberta added another 13 infections. No fatalities linked to COVID-19 were reported by either province.
Manitoba also announced two new cases of the virus. The province’s death toll, however, has remained at seven since the first week of May.
In Atlantic Canada, only New Brunswick was the only province to report a new case of the virus.
More to come…
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
In their own words: political leaders in Canada weigh in on Trump's response to U.S. protests – CBC.ca
Canadian political leaders are weighing in on U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of anti-racism protests sweeping across the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement.
While most leaders were reluctant to single out Trump by name, both Nova Scotia’s premier and Ottawa’s mayor had plenty to say about behaviour that they described as “offensive” and “disgraceful.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Trudeau’s answer to a question about Trump’s decision to have protesters moved with tear gas and riot police — so he could have his picture taken outside a church — has been talked about more for what he didn’t say than for what he did say.
The prime minister took 21 seconds to think before delivering an answer that focused on the discrimination faced by people of colour in Canada.
When pressed further to respond to Trump’s threat to call in the military into deal with protesters, the prime minister said his focus was on Canadians, not United States domestic politics.
“My job as a Canadian prime minister is to stand up for Canadians, to stand up for our interests, to stand up for our values,” he said. “That is what have done from the very beginning, that is what I will continue to do.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland
The deputy prime minister followed Trudeau’s position closely, noting that Canada has its own problems with anti-black racism and unconscious bias.
“What I am concerned about, actually, is Canadian complacency. I think that it’s really, really important for us to set our own house in order and for us to really be aware of the pain that anti-black racism causes here in our own country,” she said.
“We as Canadians, all of us, need to take this very traumatic moment for many people in the world as an opportunity to look at what we are doing in Canada and to work hard to do better.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford
Ford also avoided directly criticizing how the United States’ leadership has handled the protests, but he did say that he is glad to live in a country that doesn’t suffer from the same racial divisions and systemic racism seen in the U.S.
“They have their issues in the U.S. and they have to fix their issues, but it’s like night and day compared to Canada,” Ford said. “I’m proud to be Canadian. I’m proud to be the premier of Ontario.
“Thank God that we’re different than the United States. We don’t have the systemic, deep roots they’ve had for years … The difference between the U.S. and Canada, for the most part, for the most part — we get along.”
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil
McNeil offered a less diplomatic comment when speaking about Floyd’s death and the Trump administration’s response to the protests that followed.
“When you watch what’s happened south of the border, where a black American was killed at the hands of law enforcement, you understand the outrage and hurt and anger that people are feeling,” he said.
“Quite frankly, the political response in the United States has been offensive … to the world.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
Watson offered what may have been some of the sharpest criticism of the Trump administration coming from a Canadian politician — singling out the president by name and calling his behaviour throughout the crisis “disgraceful.”
“I think it was disgraceful. Clearing out peaceful protesters so he could have a photo-op holding a Bible,” said Watson.
“Presidents and leaders of organizations should be calming the waters and instill a sense of hope, and not [creating] greater chaos. What we’ve seen in the United States is both sad and remarkable but unfortunately, with this president, somewhat predictable.
“He seems to like to take gas and throw it on the fire.”
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