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Spike in local cases spurs deep dive into transmission sources – OrilliaMatters



After a “substantial jump” in COVID-19 cases, the region’s medical officer of health undertook a deeper investigation into transmission sources for the 27 new cases reported since Tuesday. 

During what is supposed to be the downward slope of the first wave of COVID-19 infections, Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) logged the highest number of cases ever reported in a single day – 25 today.

“I became aware of it late yesterday,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for SMDHU. “I had to understand what was happening … because you can only respond to something when you understand it.” 

The outcome of the investigation revealed several factors behind the increase in cases. 

Nine of the new cases are linked to an outbreak on a Simcoe County farm. There are two farm outbreaks at unnamed locations in the county.

There have been nine cases linked to the first farm outbreak and 15 cases linked to the second. Not all those who have tested positive for COVID-19 live in the Simcoe Muskoka jurisdiction, so not all have been included in the total cases reported by the health unit. 

Gardner confirmed there is one temporary foreign worker living on the first farm in outbreak who has tested positive and nine temporary foreign workers have tested positive at the second farm. 

He said in all those cases, transmission happened locally and each of the workers had already completed a 14-day isolation before contracting COVID-19. 

“We have done a site assessment on both of those farms from an infection control perspective,” said Gardner. “Some sanitation issues were identified and managed.”

Gardner noted there is a “high vulnerability” for workers at a farm, particularly if they are living in bunkhouses on site. Because people are working and living together, there is more potential for the virus to spread. 

The health unit has ordered everyone working at the two farms in outbreak be tested for COVID-19. 

There has also been one more outbreak declared at Stayner Care Centre after a staff member tested positive at the long-term facility. All long-term care staff are now required to be tested once every two weeks. 

Outbreaks previously declared at Creeden Valley Care Community (Creemore) and Owen Hill Care Community (Barrie) have now been declared over. Owen Hill was previously out of outbreak when a staff member tested positive. There were no other positive tests since then. At Creeden Valley, one staff member tested positive. 

With the remainder of the cases considered “sporadic” or not linked to an outbreak, Gardner said it’s significant there were 11 people who tested positive but have no symptoms of COVID-19. 

“I wanted to understand why people got tested,” said Gardner. 

With case follow-up, Gardner and the health unit determined there were four people who were tested because they had contact with a known case, and four others who got tested because they wanted to visit a family member at a long-term care facility or retirement home. 

A negative test result is one of the province’s requirements for going to visit someone in a nursing or retirement home. 

Additionally, each of the people working at the farms in outbreak had to be tested regardless of symptoms. 

“The fact that we’ve got a large number that were asymptomatic due to requirements … was of note to me,” said Gardner. “It tells me something about the fact that we might expect more of such positive test results as a result of that kind of thing. It is bringing to the surface cases we wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”

It is possible some of the cases confirmed today, especially those people who have no symptoms of COVID-19, received false-positive results on their test. When the likelihood of the virus is low, such as in an asymptomatic person, the possibility of a false positive is increased. 

“We’re treating all tests as positives because that is the safest thing to do,” said Gardner. “You are never able to clearly determine, at the end of the day, that someone had a false positive.” 

Testing in the region increased by about three-fold when Premier Doug Ford announced anyone could get a COVID-19 test even without symptoms. 

Gardner said it’s stayed pretty steady over the past few weeks. The region’s per cent positivity statistics have gone down from about two to three per cent of all tests being positive to about 0.7 per cent of all tests done in the region being positive. 

“There’s a lot of testing happening in order to get that low of a per cent positivity result,” said Gardner. 

Since the province announced stage two of its reopening plan, it has made case and contact tracing a little more work for the health unit, but Gardner said he’s not willing to attribute the region’s spike in cases to the stage two reopening. 

“I think it’s a bit too soon to be able to say transmission of these cases would be related to moving to stage two,” said Gardner, noting it’s only been one week with fewer restrictions.

“We’ve noted it has complicated our investigations … we’ve had more contacts and more social environments outdoors than was the case before we moved into stage two.” 

Today’s spike in cases is what prompted Gardner to host a media briefing. He said it was a good reminder to continue practising physical distancing, proper handwashing, and to wear a mask where physical distancing isn’t possible. 

“We need to not let our guard down, because clearly the potential for community transmission is there,” said Gardner. 

Of today’s 25 new cases, 10 were listed as community-acquired, nine were linked to outbreaks on the two farms, and the remainder were close contact or are still under investigation. You can find more information on the cases reported today here.

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21 new cases of COVID-19 detected in BC Wednesday, no new deaths –



Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said they were “concerned” about the recent growth in COVID-19 case numbers, as they provided an update on B.C.’s caseload Wednesday.

In a written statement, the health officials reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 but no new deaths related to the disease. 

it follows the announcement Monday of 62 new cases over the weekend and 13 new cases Tuesday.

Henry and Dix say community transmission is becoming a problem in the province and urged people to obey advice to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check.

“We are concerned about the increase in new cases in recent days, as COVID-19 continues to silently circulate in our communities,” they said in their statement. “While early on, many of our long-term care and assisted living facilities were impacted, most of the new cases are in the broader community.

“As we spend more time with others, we need to find our balance with COVID-19. We need to minimize the number of cases, manage new cases as they emerge and modify our activities accordingly.”

With Wednesday’s case numbers included, the province has had a total of 3,149 novel coronavirus cases to date and 189 deaths have been connected to COVID-19, while 2,753 people have recovered.

Two of Wednesday’s cases were epidemiologically linked cases, meaning they were never tested but are presumed to have the disease as they are showing symptoms and were in close contact with someone who tested positive for the disease.

No new outbreaks

The province also put the number of known cases that are still active at 207.

Fourteen people are in hospital, including five in intensive care. The rest are recovering at home in self-isolation, the officials said.

No new outbreaks were reported in either health-care settings or the community Wednesday. That leaves B.C. with two long-term care or assisted-living facilities with active outbreaks and one acute-care setting with an active outbreak.

There remains one active outbreak in the community, the statement said, “in addition to several community exposure events.”

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B.C. reports more than 20 COVID-19 cases for 6th time in a week –



British Columbia reported 21 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and no new deaths.

The province did not hold a live briefing, but reported the numbers in a statement.

Read more:
B.C. reports 13 new cases of COVID-19, no new deaths

It is the sixth time in the last week that the province has reported 20 or more cases in a 24-hour period, after new cases stayed in the teens or single digits for more than a month.

On Monday, the province reported 62 cases of the disease over a three-day span. On Friday, health officials reported 25 COVID-19 cases, the most since May 8. Twenty cases were reported on Thursday.

B.C. sees slight increase in daily COVID-19 cases

B.C. sees slight increase in daily COVID-19 cases

The province saw the number of new cases begin to top 20 almost exactly two weeks after B.C. moved into Phase 3 of its pandemic reopening plan.

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Read more:
B.C. forecasts $12.5B deficit due to COVID-19 spending, massive drops in tax revenues

B.C. has now recorded 3,149 cases of COVID-19, 14 of which are epi-linked. Of those, 2,753 people have recovered, and 189 people have died, leaving 207 active cases.

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Fourteen people are in hospital with the virus Wednesday, five of them in critical care.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,023 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,659 in the Fraser Health region, 135 in the Island Health region, 216 in the Interior Health region, 65 in the Northern Health region and 51 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Moderna's coronavirus vaccine ready to advance to final phase of testing – CBS News



The first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported Tuesday. The shots are poised to begin key final testing. 

“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press.

The experimental vaccine, developed by Fauci’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will start its most important step around July 27: A 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.

But Tuesday, researchers reported anxiously awaited findings from the first 45 volunteers who rolled up their sleeves back in March. Sure enough, the vaccine provided a hoped-for immune boost.

Those early volunteers developed what are called neutralizing antibodies in their bloodstream — molecules key to blocking infection — at levels comparable to those found in people who survived COVID-19, the research team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A view of Moderna headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 8, 2020. The company is working on developing a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

Getty Images

“This is an essential building block that is needed to move forward with the trials that could actually determine whether the vaccine does protect against infection,” said Dr. Lisa Jackson of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle, who led the study.

There’s no guarantee but the government hopes to have results around the end of the year — record-setting speed for developing a vaccine.

“Our goal is to have a vaccine available for broad distribution by year-end or early next year,” Moderna president Stephen Hoge told “CBS This Morning” in May, after seeing preliminary data on the Phase 1 trial. “If we and others build data that shows that the vaccine has a potential for benefit, that it’s safe and has a potential for efficacy, then, of course, there are circumstances where the vaccine could be deployed to high-risk populations earlier under something called an Emergency Use Authorization. Really though, that’s a decision that regulators, in particular the FDA, have to make.”

Moderna outlines vaccine progress


The vaccine requires two doses, a month apart.

There were no serious side effects. But more than half the study participants reported flu-like reactions to the shots that aren’t uncommon with other vaccines — fatigue, headache, chills, fever and pain at the injection site. For three participants given the highest dose, those reactions were more severe; that dose isn’t being pursued.

Some of those reactions are similar to coronavirus symptoms but they’re temporary, lasting about a day and occur right after vaccination, researchers noted.

“Small price to pay for protection against COVID,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a vaccine expert who wasn’t involved with the study.

He called the early results “a good first step,” and is optimistic that final testing could deliver answers about whether it’s really safe and effective by the beginning of next year.

“It would be wonderful. But that assumes everything’s working right on schedule,” Schaffner cautioned.

And Tuesday’s results only included younger adults. The first-step testing later was expanded to include dozens of older adults, the age group most at risk from COVID-19. Those results aren’t public yet but regulators are evaluating them, and Fauci said final testing will include older adults, as well as people with chronic health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus — and Black and Latino populations likewise affected.

Nearly two dozen possible COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world. Candidates from China and Britain’s Oxford University also are entering final testing stages.

The 30,000-person study will mark the world’s largest study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine so far. And the NIH-developed shot isn’t the only one set for such massive U.S. testing, crucial to spot rare side effects. The government plans similar large studies of the Oxford candidate and another by Johnson & Johnson; separately, Pfizer Inc. is planning its own huge study.

Already, people can start signing up to volunteer for the different studies.

People think “this is a race for one winner. Me, I’m cheering every one of them on,” said Fauci, who directs NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“We need multiple vaccines. We need vaccines for the world, not only for our own country.”

Around the world, governments are investing in stockpiles of hundreds of millions of doses of the different candidates, in hopes of speedily starting inoculations if any are proven to work.

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