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N.S. eases restrictions on gatherings, eateries but recommends wearing masks – HalifaxToday.ca

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HALIFAX — The Nova Scotia government is moving ahead with plans to further reopen the province now that it hasn’t reported a case of COVID-19 in the past 17 days.

However, Premier Stephen McNeil warned Friday that with limits being raised on how many people can gather at bars, restaurants and organized events, the risk of a resurgence in infections was also increasing.

As a result, the province has issued an emphatic recommendation for residents to wear non-medical masks when physical distancing among strangers becomes difficult.

McNeil said Nova Scotians must get in the habit of wearing a mask, noting that he has had to change his own habits.

“Even when I saw others wearing them, I didn’t always where one myself,” he told a virtual news conference.

“I’ve had to rethink this and do a bit of soul-searching. After all, when someone is wearing a mask, they are protecting me and others. So I need to do the same for them.”

The premier then offered a slogan of sorts to promote the use of masks.

“Don’t think of it as a task. When in doubt, wear a mask.”

The province’s previous advice was to ask residents to “consider” wearing a mask when physical distancing couldn’t be maintained.

But the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, said he wants to “normalize” the wearing of masks to reduce the inherent risks that come with allowing larger gatherings.

As examples, Strang said masks should be worn when entering grocery stores or malls, using public transit or at public gatherings with limited space.

“Wearing a mask is a way of showing that we care about other people,” he said.

Meanwhile, the province announced Friday that all bars and restaurants will be allowed to operate at full capacity and continue serving until midnight, effective immediately.

However, that change assumes establishments will continue to adhere to physical distancing rules, which has required bars and restaurants to create more space for patrons by moving chairs and tables farther apart.

The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity, and all public pools can reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.

As of next Friday, Nova Scotia will increase the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations.

That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which will increase to 250 people if they are outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they are indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.

These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.

Last week, the province announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.

Though the province announced these groups did not have to be exclusive, Strang said Friday there seemed to be confusion over what that actually meant.

“We’re telling people that you can chose who is in your group of 10, but this is limited,” he said, adding that it was wrong to think any random gathering of 10 people was acceptable. “Ideally, people would have a single, closed social group.”

A total of 1,061 people in Nova Scotia have tested positive for the virus — and 63 of those people have died, most of them in a long-term care facility in Halifax. Two people remain in hospital, though their cases are considered among the 998 officially resolved cases.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2020.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press


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COVID-19 deaths take a long-expected turn for worse in US – The Tribune India

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New York, July 12

A long-expected upturn in US COVID-19 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 namely Florida and Texas saw explosions in cases and hospitalisations — and reported daily US infections broke records several times in recent days.

Scientists warned it wouldn’t last. A COVID-19 death, when it occurs, typically comes several weeks after a person is first infected. And experts predicted states that saw increases in cases and hospitalisations 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 US 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. 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 healthcare 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 1,30,000 people in the US 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 US 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 unrecognised 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 health conditions. That means that in the Northeast at least “many of the vulnerable people have already died,” Halkitis said.

Now, the US is likely in for “a much longer, slower burn,” Hanage, the Harvard researcher, said, adding: “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.” AP

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COVID-19 deaths take a long-expected turn for the worse – FOX 11 Los Angeles

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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.

RELATED: Atlanta Public Schools still planning for football, despite plan for virtual classes

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.

RELATED: Coronavirus outbreak at University in California linked to fraternity parties

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 health 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 other virus-related developments:

— Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are reopening Saturday; Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow four days later. The move comes as there has been a surge in the number of Floridians testing positive for the coronavirus and the state set a record of nearly 500 confirmed deaths in a week.

— The number of New Yorkers hospitalized with the coronavirus — 799 — has fallen to the lowest point since March 18. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo fears a resurgence in cases is inevitable amid outbreaks in other states.

Kristin Urquiza is worried things may get dramatically worse soon in at least some American 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.

RELATED: President Trump wears mask in public for first time during pandemic

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 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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Interior Health identifies more potential COVID-19 exposure locations in Kelowna – Globalnews.ca

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Interior Health, after further testing of individuals, has identified additional Kelowna locations where people may have been exposed to COVID-19 between June 25 and July 6.

Individuals who visited the following locations on the dates noted are asked to self-monitor themselves closely for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if they have those symptoms:

* Cactus Club, #1-1370 Water St., from July 3-6.
* Pace Spin Studio, #5-1717 Harvey Ave, Kelowna from July 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9.

Interior Health is also reminding individuals who attended gatherings at the following locations on the dates noted to self-isolate and monitor themselves closely for symptoms:

* Discovery Bay Resort (1088 Sunset Dr., Kelowna) from July 1 to 5.
* Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge (3519 Lakeshore Rd., Kelowna) on July 1.

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IH says public health contact tracing is under way, and where possible, health officials are reaching out directly to exposed individuals.

Anyone who participated in events in the Kelowna downtown and waterfront area between June 25 and July 6 is asked to monitor closely for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if they develop symptoms.

Individuals seeking a test should call their primary care provider, family physician, nurse practitioner or the closest Interior Health community testing and assessment centre.

Testing is recommended for anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or loss of sense of taste or smell.

Other milder symptoms may include runny nose, fatigue, body aches (muscles and joints aching), diarrhea, headache, sore throat, vomiting and red eyes.

IH reminds everyone of the importance of following COVID-19 precautions:

* Stay home and avoid travel if you have symptoms, even mild ones.
* Maintain physical distancing (two metres apart) and use masks when distancing is not possible.
* Wash your hands regularly and do not touch your face.
* Do not plan or attend gatherings of more than 50 people. Limit gatherings to out of doors whenever possible.

For answers to frequently asked questions, you can go to the Interior Health public website https://news.interiorhealth.ca/news/frequently-asked-questions/

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