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Hirji worried Niagara is abandoning COVID-19 prevention – NiagaraFallsReview.ca

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He has fretted about it for weeks, and recent behaviour by Niagara residents taking advantage of warm weather and the economic reopening has done little to ease the fears of Dr. Mustafa Hirji.

Over the weekend, as the temperature rose above 30 C and businesses everywhere reopened, people who have been in pandemic lockdown for months gathered on patios and beaches.

But photos of some of those places, including some Niagara beaches, bespoke a lack of concern for infection control. Physical distancing and masks appear to be the exception rather than the rule in some locations. And given how COVID-19 has spread easily among big gatherings in the United States, Hirji worries about the increased spread of the novel coronavirus in Niagara.

“I worry about this a lot,” said Hirji. “It does seem that some people are taking the reopening as a sign that this is over, and they can, you know, return to their previous behaviours. But that is not the case. The pandemic is not over.”

Hirji said Stage 2 of the reopening is not written in stone. If cases spike, the region can be forced back into lockdown. And even if the reopening doesn’t collapse, Niagara is a long way from a pre-pandemic normal.

“It is a slow, phased-in approach. We have to get through Phase 2 without having to reimpose those measures and then go onto Phase 3,” he said. “Beyond that is going to be the new normal that will have to persist until we have a vaccine.”

That said, Hirji said Niagara is not Florida, where beachgoers helped fuel viral spread, and the risk here is lower than it is in the Sunshine State. Where Florida never got control of the virus spread before reopening Niagara sees a low daily case count.

On Thursday, for instance, Niagara had three new confirmed COVID-19 cases. Two were connected to a previous case and the other is an essential worker who is employed on the American side of the border.

In Florida, the daily case count is presently in the thousands.

Despite his concerns, however, Hirji remains disinclined to follow the actions of his Guelph counterpart or his colleagues in Alberta in calling for mandatory masking in public.

In Guelph, the medical officer of health issued an order making masks mandatory in businesses for customers and staff. And in Alberta, every medical officer of health in the province has urged the provincial government to make masks mandatory in public after a rise in cases in some jurisdictions.

Hirji said nothing in the past week has changed his previous view that it is not the place of the public health department to issue such a sweeping order that should come from elected officials.

Moreover, he said while masks are useful, they are not the fool-proof anti-virus shield some people appear to believe they are.

“Masks are your second line of defence,” Hirji said. “Why would you make your second line of defence mandatory but not your first and best line of defence, which is physical distancing?”

He said people have become “enamoured” with masks, but points out their recommended use is as an extra layer of protection when physical distancing is not possible. They are not meant to take the place of physical distancing.

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Hirji said as the reopening of the economy heads into its first full week, the health department has been receiving calls about businesses or other locations where infection control measures — including distancing and masking — are not being followed.

“If you see that happening, our recommendation is that first, you raise it with the business owner or manager and if you want to take a step further, you should bring it to the attention of your municipality’s bylaw office and they will handle it,” Hirji said.

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Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

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By Canadian Press

Jul 12, 2020

OTTAWA — Canada’s public health experts have been racing to stop the spread of COVID-19 by trying to figure out how everyone is getting it, and whom they might have given it to.

But even the best efforts over the last four months have left doctors stymied about the source of more than one-third of this country’s known COVID-19 infections.

Now, medical researchers are using supercomputers to turn genetics labs into detective agencies and starting the work to figure out how almost every case in Canada arose.

Andrew McArthur, director of the biomedical discovery and commercialization program at McMaster University, says his group will make a big push over the next month to compare the genetic material from versions of novel coronavirus isolated from blood samples of thousands of Canadians.

Source:- Nanaimo News NOW

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Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse – CityNews Edmonton

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NEW YORK — A long-expected upturn in U.S. coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the South and West, according to data on the pandemic.

The number of deaths per day from the virus had been falling for months, and even remained down as states like Florida and Texas saw explosions in cases and hospitalizations — and reported daily U.S. infections broke records several times in recent days.

Scientists warned it wouldn’t last. A coronavirus death, when it occurs, typically comes several weeks after a person is first infected. And experts predicted states that saw increases in cases and hospitalizations would, at some point, see deaths rise too. Now that’s happening.

“It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.

According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the U.S. has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10 — still well below the heights hit in April. Daily reported deaths increased in 27 states over that time period, but the majority of those states are averaging under 15 new deaths per day. A smaller group of states has been driving the nationwide increase in deaths.

California is averaging 91 reported deaths per day while Texas is close behind with 66, but Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey and South Carolina also saw sizable rises. New Jersey’s recent jump is thought to be partially attributable to its less frequent reporting of probable deaths.

The impact has already been felt by families who lost kin — and by the health care workers who tried to save them.

Rublas Ruiz, a Miami intensive care unit nurse, recently broke down in tears during a birthday dinner with his wife and daughter. He said he was overcome by the number of patients who have died in his care.

“I counted like 10 patients in less than four days in our ICU and then I stopped doing that because there were so many,” said the 41-year-old nurse at Kendall Regional Medical Center who lost another patient Monday.

The virus has killed more than 130,000 people in the U.S. and more than a half-million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true numbers are believed to be higher.

Deaths first began mounting in the U.S. in March. About two dozen deaths were being reported daily in the middle of that month. By late in the month, hundreds were being reported each day, and in April thousands. Most happened in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in the Northeast.

Deaths were so high there because it was a new virus tearing through a densely populated area, and it quickly swept through vulnerable groups of people in nursing homes and other places, said Perry Halkitis, the dean of the Rutgers University School of Public Health in New Jersey.

Many of the infections occurred before government officials imposed stay-at-home orders and other social-distancing measures. The daily death toll started falling in mid-April — and continued to fall until about a week ago.

Researchers now expect deaths to rise for at least some weeks, but some think the count probably will not go up as dramatically as it did in the spring — for several reasons.

First, testing was extremely limited early in the pandemic, and it’s become clear that unrecognized infections were spreading on subways, in nursing homes and in other public places before anyone knew exactly what was going on. Now testing is more widespread, and the magnitude of outbreaks is becoming better understood.

Second, many people’s health behaviours have changed, with mask-wearing becoming more common in some places. Although there is no vaccine yet, hospitals are also getting better at treating patients.

Another factor, tragically, is that deadly new viruses often tear through vulnerable populations first, such as the elderly and people already weakened by other heath conditions. That means that, in the Northeast at least, “many of the vulnerable people have already died,” Halkitis said.

Now, the U.S. is likely in for “a much longer, slower burn,” Hanage, the Harvard researcher, said. “We’re not going to see as many deaths (as in the spring). But we’re going to see a total number of deaths, which is going to be large.”

In Houston, Gregory Compean, who owns the Compean Funeral Home, is already seeing the effects. He says it’s odd when he receives a call for someone who didn’t die from the coronavirus.

Families these days, he says, aren’t pushing back on restrictions placed on services.

“Their eyes are wide open, and they’re afraid,” he said. “They’re wanting to co-operate, and I think everyone is concerned at this point because the numbers are going through the roof.”

Kristin Urquiza is worried things may get dramatically worse soon, in at least some cities. Like Phoenix, where her 65-year-old father died recently.

When the dangers of the virus first became known, Mark Anthony Urquiza, a quality assurance inspector, took precautions such as wearing a face mask and staying home as much as possible, his daughter said.

But that changed after Gov. Doug Ducey ended Arizona’s stay-at-home order on May 15, eased restrictions on businesses, and initially blocked local lawmakers from requiring residents to wear masks.

By June 11, the elder Urquiza had developed a fever and cough. He was hospitalized and eventually placed on a ventilator. He died June 30.

“His life was robbed. I believe that terrible leadership and flawed policies put my father’s life in the balance,” Kristin Urquiza said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Ducey, a Republican, has more recently changed direction, closing many businesses and allowing mayors to make mask-wearing mandatory.

But Kristin Urquiza is worried. Her father received the care at a time when beds in intensive care units were readily available. Now some Arizona hospitals ICUs are becoming swamped.

“Other families are not going to be reassured the hospitals will have the capacity to give (coronavirus) victims the dignity and the health care that they deserve. And that breaks my heart,” she said.

___

Associated Press writers Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Mike Stobbe And Nicky Forster, The Associated Press

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Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse – Medical Xpress

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COVID-19 antibody testing and diagnostic testing are administered at a converted vehicle inspection station, Tuesday, July 7, 2020, in San Antonio. Local officials across Texas say their hospitals are becoming increasingly stretched and are in danger of becoming overrun as cases of the coronavirus surge. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A long-expected upturn in U.S. coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the South and West, according to data on the pandemic.

The number of deaths per day from the virus had been falling for months, and even remained down as states like Florida and Texas saw explosions in cases and hospitalizations—and reported daily U.S. infections broke records several times in recent days.

Scientists warned it wouldn’t last. A death, when it occurs, typically comes several weeks after a person is first infected. And experts predicted states that saw increases in cases and hospitalizations would, at some point, see deaths rise too. Now that’s happening.

“It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.

According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the U.S. has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10—still well below the heights hit in April. Daily reported deaths increased in 27 states over that time period, but the majority of those states are averaging under 15 new deaths per day. A smaller group of states has been driving the nationwide increase in deaths.

California is averaging 91 reported deaths per day while Texas is close behind with 66, but Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey and South Carolina also saw sizable rises. New Jersey’s recent jump is thought to be partially attributable to its less frequent reporting of probable deaths.

The impact has already been felt by families who lost kin—and by the who tried to save them.

Rublas Ruiz, a Miami intensive care unit nurse, recently broke down in tears during a birthday dinner with his wife and daughter. He said he was overcome by the number of patients who have died in his care.

“I counted like 10 patients in less than four days in our ICU and then I stopped doing that because there were so many,” said the 41-year-old nurse at Kendall Regional Medical Center who lost another patient Monday.

The virus has killed more than 130,000 people in the U.S. and more than a half-million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true numbers are believed to be higher.

Deaths first began mounting in the U.S. in March. About two dozen deaths were being reported daily in the middle of that month. By late in the month, hundreds were being reported each day, and in April thousands. Most happened in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in the Northeast.

Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse
In this June 27, 2020, file photo, medical personnel prepare to test hundreds of people lined up in vehicles in Phoenix’s western neighborhood of Maryvalefor free COVID-19 tests organized by Equality Health Foundation, which focuses on care in underserved communities. The personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the initial weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running out again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Deaths were so high there because it was a new virus tearing through a densely populated area, and it quickly swept through vulnerable groups of people in nursing homes and other places, said Perry Halkitis, the dean of the Rutgers University School of Public Health in New Jersey.

Many of the infections occurred before government officials imposed stay-at-home orders and other social-distancing measures. The daily toll started falling in mid-April—and continued to fall until about a week ago.

Researchers now expect deaths to rise for at least some weeks, but some think the count probably will not go up as dramatically as it did in the spring—for several reasons.

First, testing was extremely limited early in the pandemic, and it’s become clear that unrecognized infections were spreading on subways, in nursing homes and in other public places before anyone knew exactly what was going on. Now testing is more widespread, and the magnitude of outbreaks is becoming better understood.

Second, many people’s health behaviors have changed, with mask-wearing becoming more common in some places. Although there is no vaccine yet, hospitals are also getting better at treating patients.

Another factor, tragically, is that deadly new viruses often tear through vulnerable populations first, such as the elderly and people already weakened by other heath conditions. That means that, in the Northeast at least, “many of the vulnerable people have already died,” Halkitis said.

Now, the U.S. is likely in for “a much longer, slower burn,” Hanage, the Harvard researcher, said. “We’re not going to see as many deaths (as in the spring). But we’re going to see a total number of deaths, which is going to be large.”

In Houston, Gregory Compean, who owns the Compean Funeral Home, is already seeing the effects. He says it’s odd when he receives a call for someone who didn’t die from the coronavirus.

Families these days, he says, aren’t pushing back on restrictions placed on services.

“Their eyes are wide open, and they’re afraid,” he said. “They’re wanting to cooperate, and I think everyone is concerned at this point because the numbers are going through the roof.”

Kristin Urquiza is worried things may get dramatically worse soon, in at least some cities. Like Phoenix, where her 65-year-old father died recently.

Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse
In this June 25, 2020, file photo, a physician assistant prepares to collect a nasal swab sample from a patient for COVID-19 testing at Xpress Urgent Care in Tustin, Calif. The personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the initial weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running out again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

When the dangers of the virus first became known, Mark Anthony Urquiza, a quality assurance inspector, took precautions such as wearing a face mask and staying home as much as possible, his daughter said.

But that changed after Gov. Doug Ducey ended Arizona’s stay-at-home order on May 15, eased restrictions on businesses, and initially blocked local lawmakers from requiring residents to wear masks.

By June 11, the elder Urquiza had developed a fever and cough. He was hospitalized and eventually placed on a ventilator. He died June 30.

“His life was robbed. I believe that terrible leadership and flawed policies put my father’s life in the balance,” Kristin Urquiza said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Ducey, a Republican, has more recently changed direction, closing many businesses and allowing mayors to make mask-wearing mandatory.

But Kristin Urquiza is worried. Her father received the care at a time when beds in intensive care units were readily available. Now some Arizona hospitals ICUs are becoming swamped.

“Other families are not going to be reassured the hospitals will have the capacity to give (coronavirus) victims the dignity and the health care that they deserve. And that breaks my heart,” she said.


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Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse (2020, July 11)
retrieved 12 July 2020
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