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COVID and N.S. pulp mill closure a 'perfect storm' for province's forestry sector – CTV News

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The global COVID-19 pandemic is being described as the latest addition to the “perfect storm” facing Nova Scotia’s beleaguered sawmill industry, leading some companies to cease purchasing fresh supplies of logs.

Robin Wilber, the spokesman for the Wood Products Manufacturers Association in Nova Scotia, says the recent mothballing of the Northern Pulp factory is combining with the challenges of depressed prices for some forestry products due to the global pandemic.

The owner of Elmsdale Lumber says he and some other sawmills in the province will stop buying new supplies of logs as of Friday, and instead use existing inventories of logs on their property as the COVID-19 crisis works its way through the global economy.

Wilber says the pandemic has intensified a crisis the industry was already going through in the Maritimes after the closure of the subsidiary of Paper Excellence in Pictou County.

The pulp mill closed after the province rejected its request to continue pumping treated effluent into a lagoon behind a Mi’kmaq community, prompting the mill to stop production on Jan. 31.

The mill had purchased wood chips the mainland Nova Scotia sawmills produced as a byproduct of their lumber production, and the mills say they’ve struggled to find alternative markets for their chips since its closure.

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Six people can be added to existing double bubbles, government announces – NTV News

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The provincial government announced Friday that residents can expand their bubbles effective immediately.

Up to six more people can be added to an existing double bubble. The new members do not have to be from the same household, but cannot change once added. The government still advises people to keep their bubbles as small as possible.

More guidance can be found online here: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/individuals-and-households/expansion-of-household-bubble/

Dr. Proton Rahman is scheduled to release new projections Friday on how the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding.

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Dr. Fitzgerald announced no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

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Ontario ramps up COVID-19 testing – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com

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A new testing strategy for COVID-19 will see “targeted campaigns” to check workers in Ontario communities with hot spots and key sectors where the virus spreads easily, including auto manufacturing, food suppliers and major retailers.

Officials unveiled the new blueprint Friday, with elements echoing what Premier Doug Ford has been saying for more than a week — and what epidemiologists have been pushing for much longer — to get a better picture of the illness as the economy reopens.

“It’s really to be proactive and understand what’s happening,” said Dr. Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario, who was instrumental in cobbling together a network of provincial, hospital and private labs to expand testing capacity.

For example, workers at LCBO stores were offered testing in the last few days along with Toronto police, said Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner, who was brought in to lead the testing strategy. Several liquor store workers have tested positive in the last few months.

If there are concerns about the virus in a particular business, mobile teams will be sent in to test, he added.

There are also plans to support “enhanced testing” for hospital workers and their families, residents and staff in retirement homes, and more testing in nursing homes, where a first testing blitz of all residents and staff was completed two weeks ago after the new coronavirus raced through hundreds of facilities. About 30 per cent of retirement home testing has been completed.

That testing will continue next week in addition to testing open to the public at Ontario’s 131 assessment centres, which changed their criteria two weeks ago to allow anyone with one symptom of COVID-19 to be swabbed, along with people with no symptoms but occupational risk of exposure, such as health-care workers, their families and grocery-store workers.

Previously, people with mild or moderate symptoms were turned away from testing centres and told to self-isolate at home. Confusion over eligibility prompted Ford to issue a plea for people to get checked under the new criteria.

The goal going forward is to “identify, contain and monitor” new cases and spread of COVID-19, officials said, releasing figures showing 55 per cent of test results are available the next day and 82 per cent within two days.

Aside from communities with a higher number of cases, officials will also focus on “high-risk” individuals, such as hospital patients and cross-border workers.

Officials are aiming to increase Ontario’s lab capacity to get ready for the fall, when more respiratory symptoms will pop up and create “a need for greater testing,” Allen said.

Ontario’s testing for COVID-19 has ramped up this week and is close to peaks rarely reached as the number of cases since the illness arrived four months ago approached 29,000 with almost 2,300 deaths.

Ministry of Health figures released Friday show 18,525 nasal swabs were processed at a network of provincial, hospital and commercial labs across the province the previous day.

The provincial daily lab capacity is just over 20,000.

Results were in progress on another 13,351 samples and there have now been 680,687 tests processed in the province of 14.5 million, or 4.7 per cent of the population.

There were another 391 confirmed and probable cases as of 11 a.m. Friday, according to a Star compilation of data from health units in the previous 24 hours.

That raised the total number of cases to 28,544 and 2,272 deaths.

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About 66 per cent of cases have been in the Greater Toronto Area.

To date, at least 1,625 nursing-home residents have died, and there are outbreaks in 123 homes, down six from the previous day. But 1,476 nursing-home residents and 1,113 staff members are still fighting active cases of the highly contagious virus that spreads easily in close quarters.

The Ministry of Health said there were 826 Ontarians in hospital for COVID-19, with 129 in intensive care and 100 on ventilators. While the first two numbers were down from the previous day, there were six more patients who had to be put on ventilators to breathe.

Just under 21,000 Ontarians have recovered from the virus.

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What's open Ottawa: H&M reopens Rideau Street store | CTV News – CTV News Ottawa

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OTTAWA —
Malls remain closed in the capital, under provincial orders, but stores with street entrances are allowed to reopen, and that means a popular fashion brand has reopened one of its stores in Ottawa.

H&M announced Thursday that its store at the Rideau Centre would reopen via its Rideau Street entrance.

Only 15 people will be allowed in the store at one time. The hours are to 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

There are markers on the floor for physical distancing. Fitting rooms have been closed and there is no garment recycling program for now.

Hand sanitizer is being provided.

While the store accepts cash, they are encouraging card use. There is one line for cash users and one line for card users at the registers.

Employees will be wearing masks, and will be behind barriers at the register. The store will be cleaned more often.

H&M will still accept returns, but says it will hold all returned items for at least 24 hours before putting them back on the sales floor.

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